SERIES- PART 1 OF 3 : How Global Culture is a Personal Concept

Photo of Robert Mairley. Courtesy of Robert Mairley himself.

Robert Mairley

“You have to have an open mind.”

Photo of Robert Mairley. Courtesy of Robert Mairley himself.

Mairley is an African-American man who was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. Cultural discovery has affected his cultural worldview.

1. The Military

Let’s start when Mairley first “met and associated with many different cultures:” in the military. At 19 years old, Mairley enrolled in the U.S. Military in the 1950s, and he served for two years.

“I met people from all over, and my attitude towards them was that they were soldiers like I was. If I didn’t like them it was on a personal basis rather than a nationality basis,” he said.

In a telephone interview, Mairley expressed the way he sees culture was based on “the way he was raised.”

He continued: “Well, my mother always taught me to approach people with an open mind.”

2. Family

Speaking of family, Mairley’s grandson is a typical cross-cultural kid (CCK). His grandson’s parents are Mairley’s African-American daughter and a Hispanic father.

3. Worldview

“I think [culture] is very important,” Mairley said. “It is important to understand people. We all have biases; it’s human nature. Without educating ourselves, we can’t eliminate these biases. You have to learn to accept the things that you don’t really know about.”

Mairley relates this quote to his real-life experiences, specifically as a volunteer and facilitator at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. When people come to ask him, “What is this?” or “How does this work?” He is not afraid to say, “I don’t know” if he does not know. However, he will always make sure that he puts in the effort to figure it out for the people who are curious, including himself.

4. Food and Interactions

Mairley said that “to really get to know a culture is to get to know the food and eat with the people.”

Taking that into action, he and his late wife used to invite people that they met from different countries over to their house for dinner. By doing so they exposed themselves to many different cultures such as Saudi Arabian, German and French.

5. The Three Rules

“Firstly, one should be introspective and know yourself. Secondly, is to keep an open mind. And lastly, to know that the way things seem on the surface is not necessarily the way they are.”




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