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New Cultural Experience: Coptic Orthodox

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Essay title: New Cultural Experience: Coptic Orthodox

New Cultural Experience: Coptic Orthodox

It was 8pm on the 8th of April when I arrived at the St Mary and St Merkorious Coptic Orthodox church for my cultural experience. I was a little nervous at this stage as I did not know what to expect. I was worries that I may inadvertently insult or upset the people of this culture.

I was asked if I understood the Coptic language and after stating no, I was led down to a smaller room under the main church where they would be having a service in English. I was worried that this service would not be as fruitful as the traditional mass, but upon arriving at the English service found that they were singing the service in Coptic, and that things were much different to anything that I had experienced before.

The mass had started earlier than I anticipated as there were several men in white robes that were busy at the entrance to the church. I entered the church and attempted to stand at the back out of the way until things settled down only to find that I had inadvertently made my way to the Female side of the room. A young gentleman, Anton Gali informed me of my error and led me to the front of the church on the male side of the room (Left hand side after entry). This made me feel a little stupid and gave me the impression that the room was all containing their laughter at my error.

I took in my surroundings and noticed that there was a separation of males and females in the church. There were a large number of robed people that were seated in front of the Alter; I was surprised by the vast number of robed people that were displaying what seemed to be a rank on their robes. I asked Anton if I was able to take pictures, he informed me that it was not appropriate, I have therefore attained some Church Issued Leaflets instead.

The church itself was ornate, although not to the same degree as the mass that was taking place above. The priest looked as though he was from the Middle East having a large thick grey beard and a white robe on; he sung with a monotone voice in Coptic through the mass although at the end of mass he did switch to English.

The room was thick with smoke incense that made breathing difficult during the experience along with a number of strange customs such as the manner in which they shook hands with each other. Overall I felt as though I was out of place in this environment and was concerned that I may upset them with my presence. I was asked not to partake in some of the ceremony, (when they approached the Alter) as I did not come to this church regularly.

had trouble at the start of the service with smiling, when I am nervous or uncomfortable in a situation my trigger response is to smile and laugh, I was able to settle in through the service and contain myself as I was worried that through this action I would be seen as disrespectful to their culture

1. In Group/Out Group:

Out Group:

I believe that I was considered by the people in this environment to be an out Group member. I was approached by several young gentlemen at the end of the service who asked me if this was the first time I had attended a Coptic service and also enquired why I had attended this service.

They quite clearly thought of me as an outsider to the church although they seemed interested in assisting me to better understand their service and were willing to help me to better integrate into their group. Despite the fact that they recognised me as someone who was not of their group and did not treat me in the same manner as others they were willing to help me to become a member of their in group if I were willing to continue to attend their service.

The older members of the congregation would not converse with me showing that they would require much more before they would have accepted me as a part of their group.

Learning's and Application:

There was varied acceptance of this group; this may have been due to the group sub cultures. I had more in common with the younger age group and this made interaction with them much easier. Even within this younger subculture, I managed to find a group of surfers that had recognised me from Bronte point.

Due to similarity with these groups they were more accepting of me as apposed to the elder generation. If I were able to overcome the barrier and find similarities with the elder generation this may help in overcoming their reluctance to accept me into their cultural group.

As a manager this highlights the importance of finding similarities within a workforce and highlighting these areas as to attempt to create a closer knit more accepting workforce.

Culture can

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