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Essay Contest Results (3rd Annual, 2008)

"What aspects of American culture do you find to be different from your own?"

Grades 4-8

William Alvarez - Grade 4
PS/MS 3 Raul Julia Micro society Dual Language School
Teacher: Renata De Luca 

Mexico and U.S.A 

How is the Mexican culture different from the American culture? Read and I'll tell you about some of the cultural differences between Mexico's foods, sports, and my family relationships and the United States.

First, I'll tell you about the different foods. Mexican food is spicier than American foods. Mexicans eat tortillas, tacos, rice, beans, chicken and tamales. On the other hand, most foods in America are not spicy, but they are greasier than the Mexican foods. For example, the chicken nuggets, hamburgers and French fries. This is how Mexican food is different from the American foods.

The sports of Mexico and U.S.A. are different as well. Mexico's popular sports are soccer, bull fighting, and charria. The sports in U.S.A. are baseball, basketball, dodge ball and football, to mention just a few. Thus, the sports we play are different.

There are two differences between Mexico and U.S.A., in terms of family relationships. First, in Mexico the children's parents don't let them go out at night by themselves. On the contrary, in America the kids' parents let them stay over night with friends. Second, their relationships are different because in Mexico if a kid doesn’t behave, their parents hit them, and in U.S.A. the parents aren't allowed to hit them because they could go to jail. This is why Mexican and Americans family relationships are different.

Overall, these are some aspects of the cultural differences between Mexico and the U.S.A. Although these are two different countries, I am part of both of them and enjoy both worlds.



Yeimi Santos
Title: Two Cultures Many Differences
Grade 8
Stissing Mountain MS
Pine Plains, NY


Grades 9-12


Robert Alvarado 
MacArthur High School
3369 Old Jerusalem Road, Levittown, NY

Teacher: Ms. Bonney


My Two Different Cultures

Culture means the different kinds of things that different groups of people in the certain places do. Some aspects of culture are religion, food, music, language, clothes, etc. As an immigrant, I have two very beautiful and distinct cultures. I think it is good to have two different cultures because you can live a more interesting life. Culture is important because it defines you and gives you character. I think that living in two different countries has given me a great deal of character.


My two different cultures are American culture and Salvadoran culture. There are many differences between these two cultures. For example, the language that people in El Salvador speak is Spanish whereas in the United States, people speak English. Also, in El Salvador, soccer is the most popular sport. Where I am from, everyone gathers on Saturdays to watch live soccer games. People get so excited and when a goal is made, everyone screams and jumps with joy; unless the goal is scored against your team! Things are different in the United States; football is popular as are baseball and basketball. No one seems to care too much for soccer. This is one aspect of my culture that I really miss. I miss the excitement of watching soccer with my family and friends who are as passionate about it as I am. In El Salvador, there are many different things that make up culture. The same can be said for the United States. Many cultures are similar, but some are very different.


Some cultural things that I miss from El Salvador are Semana Santa (Holy Week), a holiday that is celebrated in El Salvador in the spring when the people swim everyday and clean their houses. They can't eat meat — only fish - for that week. They bake a lot of bread for the week. Some people dress up like bad guys and they go to houses where they must be given bread. They disguise themselves and if they are recognized, they are omitted from the group. People must participate in this tradition for seven years in order to be accepted into the church. The week of Semana Santa ends with an Easter celebration. This is one celebration that I miss from my country. Even though Easter is celebrated in the United States, it is very different from our celebrations in El Salvador.


I also miss my language. Everybody in El Salvador speaks Spanish and in the United States, everybody speaks English, so I miss hearing Spanish all over. When I first came and heard only English around me, I felt I had been struck dumb and deaf. Now I speak a lot of English and I feel more confident but it was a great challenge and continues to challenge me everyday.


Having lived in two countries, I have lived two very different lives and participated in two different cultures; both of which fill me with great pride. Culture is very important, because it is interesting to see a culture in a person or in a country; and it is especially interesting to see culture in myself.



Laura Martinez
12th grade

Long Beach High School, Lido Beach, NY

Riverhead High School


University & Adult


Lau, Wing Suet (Patricia) 
Adult Literacy Program
Chinese American Planning Council
New York, NY 10013
Teacher: Mae Liu


Culture is the overall state of mind in a group of people and society's behavior. It is shown in the people's different lifestyles. Therefore, different countries have different cultures, and hence lifestyles. Culture has many aspects, such as: education, religion, clothing, food, transportation, housing, customs, and values. I will compare my country, Hong Kong, and America's lifestyles from three aspects: clothing, food, and housing.


Clothing: Hong Kongers like to buy different styles of clothing from various countries at the cheapest price, as Hong Kong is a free market and there is no Goods Sales Tax (GST). We enjoy shopping in mall after mall and street after street. In America, they often shop via the internet or outlet by outlet. However, they need to pay sales tax regardless of the sales or discount period.


Food: Chopsticks is the primary tool for all meals in Hong Kong. All dishes are placed in the center of the table. We share all the dishes and eat them mainly with rice. In the U.S., they often use knives and forks for their meals and they don't share dishes together, as they mostly enjoy their own meal and will eat meals mainly with bread, potatoes, noodles, hamburgers, baked ham and hot dogs, etc. They like to eat lots of meat and food with high calories. In Hong Kong, we like to eat less fat, more vegetables, and especially "long-time boiled soup" at dinner time. Our government has a slogan, "Three-Two-One," for advising us that every meal should be three servings of rice or noodles; two servings of vegetables; and one serving of meat. This is the optimal fit for all meals.


Housing: Hong Kong is a "concrete forest," therefore there are lots of high rise residential buildings for citizens to live in. You will see low (one to ten floors) and high buildings (over fifty floors) everywhere. Residential space is very limited, and a small flat may house a family of four members. America's living area, however, is much larger. They like to live in a house. They also like to live in the suburbs, in condominiums or in apartments. However, their houses are made of wood. As a city person, I prefer to live around concrete than wood, even though wood has more space. A difference in lifestyle affects our daily activities. Hence, I think it is easy for us to recognize the differences between American and Hong Kong culture. The difficult part is to get used to the differences.



Yen Wu
Elmira College, Elmira, NY

Chinese-American Planning Council, NY, NY


Congratulations to all particants in the 3rd Annual Essay Contest!