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MEET A MENTOR

KAREN KANE
Job: Anthropologist
Birthday: October 11
Home: New York City

Karen Kane is an anthropologist at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. Karen specializes in cultural anthropology. That means her job is to "study the ways different cultures live." To learn more about a culture she is studying, Karen explains, "I live with the people and try to observe what they do and why.

"Karen especially likes this part of her job because, she says, "I try to see what it is like from the other guy's shoes. I try to come as close as I can to being that person and seeing what life is like for him or her. I get to be a bit of an actor, which is fun."

Karen has spent most of her career studying Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants living in New York City. When they study a culture, anthropologists often pick a problem of daily life and see how people from that culture are solving it. Karen was interested in finding out how immigrants use their families to help them adjust to living in a foreign place. She discovered that the members of many Chinese families live in the same neighborhoods near each other and help each other out. In China, she says, extended families often live together in the same house, "but they can't in New York, because the apartments are too small!"

In her studies of cultures throughout the world, Karen has found this common thread: "We all need people to help us. It could be your family, it could be a group of friends, but it is important to have someone you have a bond with."

AN ANTHROPOLOGIST'S VIEW
OF WHY FAMILIES MATTER
"We all need people to help us...it is important to have someone you have a bond with."

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