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A Fine Line

I chose to mainly focus on this link from the module: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/29/beauty-industry-women_n_5127078.html

The article mentioned that the adverting industry has always manipulated their consumers into buying their products and it can have some serious side effects, such as smoking cigarettes and all of the health risks they come with. The beauty industry also negatively affects its consumers, mentally and physically. Women feel pressured to buy their products to be seen as beautiful and be accepted by men. Cultural standards have changed over time but most of the ads shown are from the 20th century. They make outrageous claims that make no attempt to be subtle. Today, advertising still does all this but it is hidden. Some things have just become a cultural norm that is isn’t seen as ridiculous anymore. In fact its ridiculous if you do the opposite, like shaving for example.

The ads told women that they were too ugly to be seen without makeup, too skinny to be around men, or even their skin was too dark to be seen as beautiful. Dangerous products ensued. Sometimes those trends turn around. Now tanning is all the rage, and skin lightening is a thing of the past, but in some cultures it is still present. Women are also dying their hair more normally than before and it isn’t seen as a big deal. Most people as me if that is my natural hair color just because I am blonde, does it even matter?

There is a fine line between telling women whats wrong and whats right for them. At first people were outraged by this ads telling women how to be beautiful and that their sole purpose was to impress the men in their lives, but now there are countless articles and media stunts of women empowering others to be natural and wear no makeup because “it isn’t needed”. But why can’t women wear makeup just because they like it? If you don’t wear makeup you are told you look too tired or would be much prettier with it and if you do you are seen as unconfident and insecure because of these campaigns advocating for no makeup. Colbie Caliat recently made a music video about being untouched and not wearing any makeup but some commenters argued that she shouldve made a video and not pointed out the fact that it was untouched and not made a big deal about it. Whatever is done someone will be unhappy.

Here is an article I read today about a young women going a year without makeup, prompting yahoo’s makeup team to go a week without it: https://www.yahoo.com/beauty/would-you-go-one-year-without-makeup-92654012109.html

Now women who dress up are seen as trying to hard and women who are thin are being patronized just as women who are overweight are. There is always talk about what women should do next, nothing is ever good enough for the media and cultural norms, the ideals are always changing. Why can’t women wear what they want and do what they want to their bodies as men do? Who cares if someone wears makeup or not, if they are overweight or thin? As long as they are healthy and happy with themselves then nothing else should matter. Advertising companies should stop manipulating their consumers into believing they are never good enough.

In my life I experience sexism at work, the girls are only allowed to do the easier jobs, such as cashiering or bagging. Jobs such as slicing the meat or working on the grill are reserved for the boys. In Richmond there is plenty of cat calling. I ended up having to change my route to class every morning at 8 am from Broad Street to Franklin because I felt less scrutinized. I remember one day I was crossing the street with a few friends and a few boys yelled out of their car; “Y’all look nice today”. I ignored the comment, being oblivious I didn’t even know they were speaking to us. They boy then regarded my silence as rudeness and stated something along the lines of; “Okay then, not like I was calling you pretty or anything”. I had to yell back an awkward thank you and shuffle away. There are countless more examples of this. And as the book mentioned, especially with the poem about for every girl afraid to be strong there is a boy afraid to be weak, sexism occurs for men as well. It is imbedded in our culture of what gender is supposed to be and is not based on our sex or biological fact.

 

 

Sociology and Race

What I find most fascinating from the book is their look into how racism and the distinction of skin colors started. Race is not something I think about often and I admit I am slightly uneducated when it comes to it. For instance, I did not know the difference between race and ethnicity.

All of the readings in the module seemed to be focused on the fact that scientifically, skin color does not indicate race. They state the common fact that dark skin was a evolutionary trait evolved to protect people from the sun in certain areas of the world where it is hottest. Light skin also has its advantage in places where dark skin wouldn’t. We all can be traced back to Africa and more and more people today are becoming mixed races. A lot of Americans come from all over the world, we are a country of immigrants after all.

We have come a long way from slavery and segregation and new generations are growing to be more tolerant. It is interesting to see where it all started. Many minority groups in American still experience oppression. Housing is a big target of racial discrimination. It is the reason for growing segregation of neighborhoods. Blacks lag behind whites in education in a vicious cycle as the teachers have less experience and are teaching outside their fields of study. Health care affects hispanics and other minorities as whites tend to receive better care. The media also portrays stereotypes that lead to more racism and reinforce false ideals. Lastly, the book talks about how Blacks and Hispanics are three times more likely to experience poverty than whites. These are just a few of the ways that racial and ethic inequality determine American society.

A cultural explanation for racial segregation explains that it is easier for us to socialize with people who look and act like us rather than those who look and different and have unfamiliar behavior. The latter makes us uncomfortable. The book suggests that stereotypes happen around the age of three as children are encouraged to socialize with those like them. I am currently working at a daycare at a Montesorri school. We have children of all different heritages and they all interact the same, the school also teaches them multiple languages right from the start so a lot of them speak to me in different languages. This is one way that progression is happening in schools. This is an example of contact hypothesis where individuals of different groups can reduce prejudices if they remain in contact. This also happens on many college campuses.

The readings also mention the interesting topic of “color-blind”. They raise a surprising point that this mentality actually reinforces existing racial and ethnic inequalities. The also call it reverse racism. They are rejecting efforts to reduce inequality . By denying that racism exists they are not helping reduce it when it actually does. Ignoring something does not make it go away.

 

 

Deviance in Group Work

My group, like many other students have mentioned in their blog posts, did not experience much deviation. The concept of an online class is hard as we do not have face to face interactions and have to rely solely on technology. Group projects are equally hard because you are relying on others to cooperate and most of the time you cannot control the outcome of their behavior. Put the two together and you have a difficult task to accomplish. My group was quiet at first when we were communicating through the forum but I believe that that was due to the setting. I found it hard to navigate to the page and we are so used to being notified when we are messaged that I often forgot to check if someone had responded in the forum. I was confused as to how five people could write an article together but the format of the assignment, with the ideas supposedly coming from different perspectives, it worked.

At first no one had taken the lead, we had to choose a topic and lay out who wanted to do what. After waiting a while and no one responding to my other group members in the forum I decided to choose a topic and create a google doc. I laid out the different tasks to be completed and had broken down the assignment. I emailed this to my group members.

There was no clear leader for my group. We all took our own parts equally and everyone stepped up in one way or another. The google doc did get confusing at times but we managed. Everyone helped each other out and chose their own parts. We collaborated on the finished product and made sure that we had met all of the requirements. I am usually one to go to bed earlier so it was almost deviant behavior from my perspective that the other students were finishing their work so late in the end. I had offered to post the final product so I had to wait until everyone had completed their part. I had left the computer for an hour while they were working and two of my group members posted the assignment on their own thinking I wasn’t coming back. It was hard to communicate with each other and make sure that this wasn’t happening  because all we had was emails and forum to contact each other through.

We all acted within the norms of student behavior and no one deviated from the other members. I can imagine this happening though because it happens with a lot of group projects during school. An example of deviant behavior during a class project would be someone not following the examples of their group. This would include being late on assignments, not putting in enough effort, etc. This can happen for any number of reasons but it may be due to the fact that the student did not have sufficient means to be in the norm, as stated in Merton’s Strain Theory of Deviance. This would be especially true in an online course such as this, technology and lack of time may come in the way. I was lucky enough to not experience any of this and have had an overall positive experience thus far with my group.

Inside Jersey Mike’s Subs

My summer, thus far, like most other students my age, has been consumed by a part time job. I began working at Jersey Mike’s Subs in early June. I had not heard of the franchise until one was opening in my small town of Ridgefield, Connecticut. I learned that this is a growing chain of restaurants just now expanding along the east coast. After applying online I went through the interview process and was hired a week later.

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Like any job, there is a training and orientation, but I missed all of this as I was away on vacation. I had to learn the ropes as I went along. My first day on the job we were sent out on a “grassroots” campaign, handing out free sub coupons to local businesses, hoping to make our first week a success. Opening day came and due to my lack to training I was told to be “the hostess with the mostess”, in other words, smile and hand out menus. As the days went by I picked up new tasks, cleaning the lobby, prepping lettuce, answering phones, etc. I graduated to more important tasks such as working the register and baking bread. After asking every employee and manager individually I soon learned how to operate successfully as a Jersey Mike’s employee.

This job, like many others, exhibits characteristics of sociology such as culture, power, and social structure. Culture, as defined by the textbook Experience Sociology by David Croteau and William Hoynes, is the collection of values, beliefs, knowledge, norms, language, behavior, and material objects shared by a people and socially transmitted from generation to generation. Jersey Mike’s has a specific culture within its workplace. The uniforms come to mind as material culture, physical objects produced by people of that culture (Croteau 59). We are required to wear khaki pants, nonslip shoes and are provided with a polo, hat, and apron all embellished with the company’s logo and colors. We are not permitted to wear jewelry besides a single stud earring and we must keep our hair pulled back and kept. Not only do these rules make us appear more professional but are in place for safety reasons. Unruly hair and dangling jewelry could be caught or set on fire in a restaurant.

Cultural knowledge is a range of information, awareness and understanding that helps us navigate our world (Croteau 64). Jersey Mike’s has a knowledge and specific skills that are taught to you during training and learnt throughout your time there. You must learn the menu in order to make the sandwiches, communicate with the customers, and complete a transaction successfully. Learning to interact with the customers is also key, we are told to always smile and be overly friendly. There is certain technology and equipments we must use, certain places where things are kept, how and when to do things etc. The most significant cultural item at Jersey Mike’s would be “Mike’s Way”. Mike’s Way includes onions, lettuce, tomatoes, vinegar, oil, and spices, in that order. It is their guaranteed way to top the sandwiches and we preach it to the customers each time they order a cold sub. Employees learn the history of the business and the inside is decorated a Jersey Shore-like appearance. Surfboards and pictures of the beach don the walls.

Norms are rules, expectations and appropriate behavior, this job, of course, has many of those. Addressing customers in a respectful and friendly manner is one way. There are many other ways you go about the workforce that is ingrained in us. Respecting and listening to your boss, coming in on time, wearing the uniform, receiving pay on a certain date, these are just a few examples of the norms in the workplace. My job has its own norms. You come in on time for your shift after being emailed a different schedule each week, you clock in on the register and make your way to your appropriate station. In the beginning I would wait until I was told to do something but now I know what needs to be done and when. I clock in and go straight to the register and ring up a customer.

The customers have their own norms. During my first week of the job, three women came into the store and two went into line while one decided to save a seat. Our store is very small so with a lot of people in line and sitting it can be cramped. The woman then decided to join her friends in line, but in order to save her the table she propped up the chairs on an angle. A family of four came over to the table not knowing what this women had done and proceeded to sit on the table. This caused the woman to be very angry saying things such as “that’s not right” when she realized what had happened. She then turned to me to solve the problem which I couldn’t do much. The customers feuded about a simple problem of seating. The woman set the chairs up thinking that she could save her seat but the accepted norm would be to be at the table in order for her to claim the seating. The same situation applies in movie theaters. Other movie-goers get frustrated when someone is saving several seats and they have no where else to sit. Some people accept that saving seats is an official practice while others disregard the idea.

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Equal to having a culture, there is a social structure throughout Jersey Mike’s. Each person has a status, I am an hourly employee, my bosses are the managers and the owners, and the people I serve are the customers. All of these are achieved statuses rather than ascribed ones. Each status comes with a role. The customer comes in and the employee greets them and takes their order, the manager watches over this and sometimes partakes in the process. The customer completes the transaction with the cashier giving them money for their goods and services. We all learn our roles overtime, the regular customers come in and order their meals quickly and efficiently and the employees get things done faster than before. There is also an organizational structure, the rules and routines within the job. I have discussed many of these before but some of the routines would be opening and closing. I have only closed once but there is an entire long checklist to complete. It may seem simple to make a sandwich and one might think that that is something everyone knows how but there are specific ways to do it that the job has. When “sprinkling” or placing toppings on the subs, you place three tomatoes on the regular size subs and five on the giant, two layers of lettuce, two lines of vinegar, and three lines of oil. There is even a certain way to grab the bottles and switch hands as you do it. In order to survive a day in the job you must know their way of doing things.

The statuses and structure also brings about the idea of power in Jersey Mike’s. The relationship of boss to employee is the most obvious example. Power is defined as the ability to bring about an intended outcome, even when opposed by others (Croteau 111). The managers have power over their employees, they must listen to them even if they don’t like it, because it would cost them their job if they  didn’t. This is a more official example of domination as the consequences are greater than just a parent grounding a child for disobeying. Employees do not have power over their co-workers and must use persuasion to get them to do something they desire. If one worker wants to have another cover their shift for them they must offer something in exchange, such as guaranteeing that they will cover them in the future. The bosses also use rewards to encourage compliance. If you do your job well and correctly then you get to keep it and you get payed well. It is as simple as that and doesn’t take much to keep the structure in working order. This would be referred to as “legitimate power” because the role of boss to employee is voluntarily accepted and not forced. Additionally, they have coercive power, the power to punish. Employees then use referent power, or a respect for once another. All of these are power tactics that people use to influence others. As much as I may be annoyed by the bosses and managers, if I want to keep my job I must listen to what they say.

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That is how culture, structure, and power specifically influence my life. These ideas can be applied anywhere if you begin to analyze deeply enough. A part time summer job that is run mostly by students is a place that many people know about and how to be successful. You do not realize that every time you go into work and you interact with the customers and other workers you are participating in a these sociological concepts. The culture at a job leads to other relationships with coworkers and friendships that grow in that environment. You bond over the hatred of the management or the stupidity of the simple tasks. You gain a certain status and the roles that come with it when you are hired, vowing to complete those roles accordingly in exchange for pay and employment. Without these statuses and roles the structure of the workplace would fall apart. And the power that these statuses come with depends on which one you have obtained, the owner has power over everyone and the managers have power over hourly the employees. The hourly employees obey their authority figures and conform to the status quo.

My last three weeks at Jersey Mike’s lie ahead and I will view my shifts differently, observing the sociological aspects of each day. I know what to say and when and who is available during my shifts. Slowly but surely I am learning how to work without constant guidance. Of course there is always something new to learn, even the managers know this. They must see how the locals react and what makes their store successful. They may follow a recipe sent down from corporate but each store is different, every town has their ways of doing things so they must figure out what culture, social structure, and power works for them.

Works Cited:

Logo of Jersey Mike’s. Digital image. Jersey Mike’s. N.p., 11 Apr. 2014. Web. 15 July 2014.

Sandwich with meats. Digital image. Jersey Mike’s. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 July 2014.

Croteau, David, and William Hoynes. Experience Sociology. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2013. Print.

My Social Connections

I was confused by this assignment at first but after reading the chapter I better understood what was micro level and what was meso and so on. I was able to think more thoroughly about my relationships and realize how they were all connected. Each time they grow more and more intimate, my friendships that I interact with on a daily basis are connected to a macro level group of education. I don’t think any connections were significantly more obvious than others. It was easy to figure out where I met certain people whether it be school, work, or a religious organization. There are more connections such as extracurricular activities and sports groups that I am not part of that would stem off from education. Some are interconnected, my church group for example I put under religion but I met my church group through school, which is under education.  Someone might have received a job through a connection with someone they met at school, or a friend or family member, therefore those macro level groups would be connected as well. All of the connections are important to me but during the summer it would be family, as I live at home, education, as I take an online class, and work, with my summer job. Education is a small part as I am away from my school friends and I am only doing one class. Work is a large part during the summer. Art is also an important part of my summer life as I complete projects that I do not have time for during the school year. Currently, I am painting a 6ft by 8ft oil painting in my room which I won’t be able to travel to school with or have any room to work on it. My current situation allows these connections to happen. Certain people I know from Connecticut that I do not see during the school year while I am in Virginia are part of my life for a short time. Old groups such as girl scouts can come together or family members that are living close by. I am taking advantage of the proximity. The importance of these connections is always changing depending on where I am or the time of year. Family becomes more important as I grow older to appreciate them but they also become less important as I move away from home and start a new life. I was more dependent on them at a younger time in my life. Education will be important always but mostly while I am in school, once I graduate the importance of work will overrule education. Art has always been significant but that changed once I decided to choose it as my career interest, I decided to make it more than just a hobby. Friends of course come and go, and we make new ones with each new organization or social interaction that occurs. Everything is connected and will always grow and change. We live with many social connections everyday without realizing how important they all are to each other.

Nature VS Nurture

I hadn’t heard of the term epigenetics before this module. There are two different sides to this debate, some argue that genes make our behavior while others counter that the social environment we are raised in determines our actions. Researchers have found that these go hand in hand. Two people might share the same gene for tallness but one might be slightly shorter than the other if they grew up in an environment with less nutrients. I believe that it shouldn’t be a debate between the two ideas but a combination of the concepts that will help us understand. Certain cases involving children who were isolated from birth show severe stunted social growth and skills. But it has been proven that if caught early enough, they can be put through rigorous therapy to make them functioning members of society. Another case was a man who was born American but grew up in a Chinese family shows no signs that he is not completely Chinese others than his appearance.

We also grow depending on others. The book discuses Mead’s “I” and Mead’s “me”. A concept that part of us is unpredictable and impulsive, you cannot even think about it or it won’t exist anymore. And the “me” part of us is what is learned through interactions with others. If you reflect on “I” it becomes part of “me”. This also depends on your environment when learning to balance the two in socialization.

There is a certain window where children are learning normal behaviors and if that window is missed they cannot grow normally. But part of that depends on the brain. Two men can have a gene for anti-socialness but only one will develop it in adulthood. That man grew up in an abusive childhood while the other had a happy life growing up. Researchers have found that certain genes can exist but are only important and will be activated depending on the individuals social upbringing.

Today we have technology and online communication that has drastically changed these ideas. Now because of smartphones and being virtually connected to the internet every minutes, users have a whole new level of social interactions that help them grow as individuals. Before the internet people had public selves and private selves. Private selves were parts that not many people knew about simply because they did not have access to share it. But now with social media and youtube people are able to share every part of their lives with no trouble. Now it is no secret what your friends do with their lives when you’re not around, you no longer have to inquire. Certain gaming communities allow us to become another identity and experience from that perspective. It has been found that games such as Second Life do not affect real life as much as real life affects Second Life. All of these are important because people can now experience life from another character without consequences. Playing a soldier in a war game without the risks of going to war. While it may not be even close to what it is like in real life, this technology has allowed us to be so much closer to one another and change the way we socialize for good.

 

Sociological Photograph

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I chose this image to represent protests and sociological change. I thought this was an important part of sociology and history. Many times we have seen groups who have brought about change this way. People who have common ideas that something needs to be changed has been discussed many times in our textbook. Cultures, inequality, racism, are just a few of the causes of this phenomenon. There are so many factors that go into and come out of protests.

http://pixabay.com/en/police-security-protection-people-106078/

Power in Daily Life

Once again the textbook for this course has caused me to think about a term as common as power in a new way and realize that there is so much more to the idea than I thought. Power has many  causes and effects. Because of certain social structures and statuses power exists and people react to that power. In my life power is present through my relationships with family and friends.

We use power everyday without even realizing it. My roommate and I, for example, negotiate on terms and come to agreements constantly, as those who live together should. Each of us has our own strategies to get the other to do what we want. If someone left the dishes out too long or wants to have the lights go off earlier at night we might causally mention it in passing or decide to talk the other party into the idea. Sometimes roommate can be stubborn towards one particular topic and it takes more than just simply suggesting an idea to come to an agreement. This would include the use of some of the power tactics mentioned in the textbook. Negotiate, request, persuade, persist, discuss, demand, complain, collaborate, are just a few of the strategies that would come into play in this situation. All of these would come naturally to a person and one would not even realize what they are doing is a play of power against the other. This roommate situation requires more discussion and work than an argument with a parent would because the roommates do not have power OVER each other. They can only suggest things and hope that it does not lead to coercion because they do not have to listen to one another by social standards.

This brings us to the idea of parent and child. If I am asked to fold the laundry I do it for several reasons, some being sociological. For example, my parents have domination and power over me just by social standards and traditions. It is their status as my guardians to be able to control my actions. I also feel I must help around the house because my parents were kind enough to raise me and pay for my schooling so the least I can do it a few chores. This would be power  out of respect for them. And lastly I would do it for the threat of what would happen if I didn’t. My parents were never one for harsh punishment because I never really misbehaved. I always had a feeling as to what would happen, an underlying threat that kept me from misbehaving. All kids know what would happen if they disobeyed their parents so they do not even bother to resist. All of these lead to the conclusion that I must do what my parents ask. At the end of the say I still have a choice, but it wouldn’t end well for me if I chose the latter. There would be a break in our relationship, I could be kicked out of the house etc.

The same goes for friendships, I do my friend a favor that I wouldn’t do for just anyone just because of a respect I have for them and an inclination to please and maintain the relationship positively. All of these factors cause us to see power in simple ways in our life, whether its intentional or not. Authority does not have to be defined by law or a title, it can be as simple as a relationship to another person.

 

Social Structure in America’s “Food Machine”

“Food Machine”, an episode from a series on PBS titled America Revealed, explored the vast and complex systems that make up the food industry that we know of today. Farming is immensely different than 100 years ago and is ever changing, farmers in California wouldn’t even call themselves farmer anymore, just production managers. Technology allows large production of food to be maximized not only by quantity but quality as well. Cows are bred artificially to be at their maximum potential. We no longer worry about the amount of food we are producing because there is plenty, but instead we focus on the healthiness of the food for us and the impact we are having on the environment.

But there is a hidden structure that is present at micro, meso, and macro levels in sociology. The food machine operates on a large scale level that effects something as small as a pizza delivery man. We have made it so efficient that almost everything is made from corn, even beef relies on corn. It is the cheapest and fastest way to feed cows and fatten them up before being shipped off to the slaughter house. In order to maximize potential farming in California  they make use of all the natural resources in the valleys but they are missing a key element, water. They built a large damn to bring water into the farms and create an extremely successful system.

Another element of success relies on honey bees. Without them we would lose much of our products today. The bees travel from Florida to California to pollinate almonds. They then move to apples in Pennsylvania and blueberries in Maine. There is, however, an issue, Colony Collapse Disorder. The bees are disappearing overnight, without the bees we will lose products, jobs, food will no longer be nomadic. The bees are a meso part of the system, they provide to micro level things such as grocery stores and the citizens who buy them, the things they make from the products, etc. The macro level will be the jobs that they provide, and the system of farming for the products that the bees pollinate. Without all this much would collapse besides just the bee colonies.

The large farms operate a macro level system, they provide jobs but they also put out jobs with all the technology they are now using.  This filters all the way down to the micro level of a customer receiving a pizza. All this is possible because of the amount of food we are producing and the way we use it. Corn has provided ingredients for everything. All this together combines a successful structure that runs the way we eat, the jobs we have, and the traditions of the food we eat.

 

Evolving Culture

I have always found the concept of culture fascinating but never indulged into the subject as much as I would’ve liked to. This chapter went in depth about how culture affects us, culture as a means of survival and fitting in, subcultures, language, etc. I never thought to think of the fans of Star Trek as a subculture in themselves. There is so much more than just a countries flag, a language, or the type of foods they eat. The modern world has made it possible to interact with so many different countries and their way of life that we are able to become more aware and tolerant of them. We are also creating new cultures in this way, the famous melting pot idea, for example.

I never thought to break down culture into material and nonmaterial subjects. The book also explained how these can be interconnected, bringing a broader understanding to the concept. There may be certain stigmas towards the way someone dresses and a style of fashion would be the physical aspect of that idea. I do believe that values can be universal but whats tricky is that they are rated as different importance. Sometimes concepts cannot be applied the same in different countries.

I believe that we should be tolerant and respectful of other cultures as long as they are not harming anyone in a universally morally wrong fashion. It is hard to say what is a violation of their beliefs or a violation of basic human rights. But this does not have to be across different counties. Culture Wars can happen within your own country.  Religious organizations, for example, can complain that something if offensive, such as a piece of art, and ask that it be removed. But who is in the right in this situation? Isn’t the church also violating the culture of the artist by saying it is not fit for society?

Another concept discussed in this chapter was having a certain knowledge and understanding to survive and succeed in certain cultures. Without this, one would experience culture shock. Something as simple as attending a fancy dinner party requires a certain sub-culture knowledge. This goes hand in hand with norms in society. All of these concepts are ever-changing. Slavery was acceptable at one point in time, but now it is seen as shocking and wrong. The same goes for housewives or gay couples. Every year norms are reevaluated to accommodate for changing ideas in society. There are many advocates for this type of change. For example, hippies were a subculture in the 70’s that vied for a change.    This can be achieved through protests or even magazine ads. But with the internet all of this is so much more plausible than ever before.

We as a society are constantly evolving quicker than ever in the modern age and are absorbing old and new traditions from all around the world. I for one am excited to see what the future has to offer.