Master Status and Personal Experience
The way individuals opt to present themselves to others demonstrate the position that they occupy in a specified setting. Individuals have different types of statuses, which influence their day-to-day lives. How we treat other people reveals our master status. A master status supersedes all other statuses, thus, becoming the core status by which other people familiarize themselves with particular individuals. My master status has experienced changes since the time I left my mother country. As a student, my master status has been the most essential status, as other people have managed to intermingle with me through it. However, my life experience has not conformed to my master status since I had to develop different characters to fit the new world that I intend to remain in for a long time.
I have always dreamt of studying in an international university, and probably find a job abroad, even though I did not know how it would happen. However, my commitment to study earned me a scholarship to study abroad, which I embraced with both hands. I come from a humble background in Saudi Arabia, where I did not enjoy much luxury during my childhood time. As a young student, I developed a habit of asking questions whenever I needed a clarification on general life issues. My struggle to attain a bachelor’s degree in a foreign country has been as a result of persistence, commitment and hard work. My interest in understanding human nature compelled me to consult persistently on social interactions, and relationships, as well as attempting to offer opinions on family matters. Consequently, I could not continue clinging to my culture in a multicultural environment, thus, my master status got a new face.
Living in a foreign country has been fruitful as I have gained a lot of skills and expertise required to succeed in the competitive career in social work and human services. As a student, other students expect me to be appropriately dressed, be accommodating and interact freely. Despite being an international student, they expect me to answer questions, discuss cultural and religious issues, in addition to respecting the opposite gender. In a social work class, students are sometimes requested to discuss about family issues, which act as case studies, and in such moments, instructors expect maximum cooperation from every student. This practiced has helped me to learn about other cultures, as well as dismissing the stereotype that I had concerning certain cultures. I do not know how my fellow citizen would perceive me, but I believe that what I have become will not hurt anyone.
Coming from a Muslim background, I am already ascribed to Islamic religion. Hence, I always seek guidance from the holy book as well as sheikhs, so that my career goals do not derail me from my religious beliefs. Coming to the US has changed how I perceive religion, as well as gender issues. Unlike in Saudi Arabia where religion is the base of all activities, Americans are fighting to drive religion out of their daily activities. In terms of gender, Muslims do not regard women with high regards as compared to other religions and non-religious groups. Most of the studies in social works emphasize on women empowerment and gender equality. Such studies have affected my master status, but in a positive way. I have come to appreciate that women demand same respect as men on various issues, include economic, social, and political matters. Women are nowadays competing with men in careers and leadership, hence, their status in community has changed tremendously. Although women in Saudi Arabia have experienced some change recently, what I have read and witnessed during my studies cannot be compared to what I knew previously about my culture.
Looking at the topic of gender sociologically depicts something that has a cultural dimension and biologically fixed. On the contrary, the study of gender reveals that it is not biologically fixed, but rather a culturally learned subject, with characters that change over time. The term “gender” denotes the roles that men and women ascribe to in society. Hence, gender roles are socially constructed and can change depending on culture. I grew up in a culture where both genders have fixed roles, thus, higher education has helped me to appreciate equality, which dismiss fixed roles. In the contemporary world, women have embraced men’s roles while men have also taken some of the women’s roles. Women are becoming excellent drivers, masons, and doctors, just to state a few. This implies that my master status had to change to accommodate such knowledge. When individuals see the light, they do not aspire to go back into the darkness.
The study on social work and human services exposes individuals to reflective thinking, innovation, and ethical practices in community services. Learning about major sociological theories has expounded on how gender roles influence society. When men take instrumental roles while women are responsible for expressive role, the society creates gender inequality. Internalizing gender roles encourages male domination while power inequalities create numerous disadvantages to women. Being exposed to reflective and ethical thinking cannot be termed as deviance, but rather an endeavor to seek legitimacy. Some topics such as social justice, security, resilience, non-violence, sexual orientation, and hope, are part of what society looks like, hence, as a student, I had to focus my minds on how I can tackle such issues in community setup.
Class discussions usually address various social issues that affect individuals in their daily lives. For instance, while covering the course about psychological disorders, we discussed on reasons why people suffer from posttraumatic stress syndromes, substance abuse, and eating disorders. Discussions on such topics have helped me in enhancing my knowledge on how to deal with people suffering from psychological disorders. I have met some Muslims who have been in the US as immigrants, and some of them are suffering from posttraumatic stress disorders due to experience of war in Africa or Middle East. As a social worker, I ensure that they attend counseling sessions to regain their normalcy, in addition to seek medical help on their behalf. Being a student does not restrict me from doing what I desire in life, since I have a responsibility to assist other people where I can.
Instructors also utilized discussion groups to cover the course on marriage and family therapy, where such discussions expounded on counseling education, which are essential in conceptualizing family issues and carrying out treatment plans. The study on families revealed that American culture does not value extended families as Saudi people do. Americans are more concerned on matters that affect the nation than family matters. My instructor would later challenge us to identify common family problems that emerged from the discussions and suggested for appropriate solutions to various family issues. Although each culture has its benefits and costs, I was able to understand how people behave the way they do. Personally, I enjoyed the discussion sessions because they revealed how different cultures handle family problems. Class discussions have assisted me in formulating solutions on various family issues.
Back to my motherland country, people understand me as a hard working person, who is always committed to any responsibility. This may not be my ascribed status, but it has been my position for as long as I can remember. I may have been exposed to numerous types of environment, but I strongly believe that success will only come when one seeks to live ethically with others. Accepting other people’s views, social positions, sexual status, and religion, assists an individual in enhancing survival tactics and social justice. In the US, homosexuals have persistently sought recognition through activism, and their pressure has born fruits. Some states have passed laws to allow same sex marriage while some companies have encouraged their employees to declare their sexual status to enjoy certain privileges. This is contrary to the Muslim culture, where homosexuality and lesbianism are strictly condemned. I have worked in companies where gays and homosexuals interact free with straight people, but this does not interfere with how I used to treat people and how I treat them nowadays.
Leaving with people from different cultures has enhanced my knowledge on both political and economic issues, which I did not know before joining sociology class. Most of the people that I have met understand me as a Muslim; hence, they do not mind interacting with me, as long as we do not talk much about religion. Nowadays, I do not fear visiting places that I do not know because I have mastered the art of interaction. I have learned to keep my religious beliefs aside, since most Americans do not prefer to talk about religion. I find other people’s company interesting because I stand to gain from their talks, as well as offering my hand to help in solving social issues that may be restraining them from attaining their potential. What I do not like is being misused by people whose focus is to attain personal goals. My master status should act as a bridge to my career, and not as a doormat where others step and leave you there in the cold.
Life experience can influence individuals to deviate from their master statuses if such experience does not dominate their social interactions. Residing in a foreign country has restrained me from conforming to my master status because I have to deal with different issues in my new environment. Status develops not from personal choice, but rather from how individuals interact with others in the society. Master status has the capacity to change other aspects of individuals’ lives, including their personal identity; hence, individuals may fail to stick to their achieved status because status can be affected by time. I have experienced a change in personal identity after leaving my country for further studies where I acquired a new master status out of life experience. With knowledge from two different countries, it is quite difficult to maintain achieved status because it changes to fit to the environment that an individual is at a particular time.