Usually people think of "culture" as something that a particular group of people have. Cultures roll around the planet like so many billiard balls, self-contained objects that might collide or bounce off the cushion but still retain their perfect round shape.I don't know that I've thought of culture this way, but it's an interesting argument and implies that cultures actually blend, rather than "retain their perfect round shape." Tibetan culture is undoubtedly changing while the Tibetans are living in India in this fast-paced, technologically savvy world, especially for their growing children. So what elements of Tibetan culture are traditional, what are new to the exiled location and circumstances, and what are unique to the time period? I have just realized that I must actually define Tibetan culture since I will be analyzing its preservation all summer!
Culture is something those people "have," but it's more than that. It's also something that happens to you when you encounter them. As long as they're just out there, just a different group of folks, you won't have to deal with them. When you deal with them, culture turns personal. Culture is no longer just what some group has; it's what happens to you when you encounter differences, become aware of something in yourself, and work to figure out why the differences appeared. Culture is an awareness, a consciousness, one that reveals the hidden self and opens paths to other ways of being.When I'm living in India, this culture that I am reading about in books and discussing in a classroom and trying to define on paper will no longer be an abstract concept but a part of me, of my life experiences, something personal about which I'll have fond and funny and unpleasant memories. What will happen to me? Will I be the same person in September that I am right now?