Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Multicultural Identity

Do you, like the speaker in Langston Hughes's poem "Theme for English B" define yourself as a multicultural being? If so, which cultures are part of you (and you of them)? Please tell us which cultures are particularly important for your identity.

Thank you!



  1. When I was asked the define my own identity, my first thought was not the cultural background that shape my identity, because we live in such a multicultural society here in metro-Vancouver. However, I do consider myself as a multicultural being. There are three cultures that form the majority of my identity: Japanese, Chinese, and Canadian.

    Even though I am almost fully Chinese genetically, I was born in Japan, and did not go to China until I was a pre-schooler. That means Japanese is my mother-language, and I followed Japanese traditions in my earliest memories. Then I spent most of my childhood in China. In addition to all my relatives being Chinese and following Chinese traditions, all of my childhood friends also guided me into knowing China better. As for Canada, it is the country where I spent my teenage years, and also the place where I became independent. This is the place where I learned most life lessons, where I truly became aware of who I am, and where I learned about different cultures most. I have also adapted the Canadian holidays, which traditional Asian families don't celebrate, and celebrated them with my family.

    Not only are these cultures part of me, but I am also a part of them. Because I am/was a member of these societies, I am/was a resident in their neighborhood, and I contribute/contributed to these societies. As history can never be modified, my parts in these cultures can not be changed either.

    Even though these three cultures are very important to me, I cannot credit my full identity to these three cultures. As I learn more about other cultures, they become a part of me as well. My identity have been shaped by the different parts of the world I have traveled to, and the different cultures I learned in school, watched on TV, read on books... In addition to that I am a small, small part in these cultures as well, because, in my opinion, to learn about a culture is to become a part of a culture.

    1. Excellent comment, Yolanda! Thanks for sharing your insights!

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  2. Culture is an important aspect of everyone’s life and without a doubt describes at least a part of their identity. For myself, my own culture is one of the key aspects of my life because it shows the evolution of history leading up to who I am today. I guess I would say I am a multicultural being having ancestral roots in Italy, Scotland, and England, but I would also classify myself as Canadian since I was born and grew up here. The strongest of my three ancestral roots would have to be the fact that I am Italian. Two of my grandparents were born and raised in Italy and came to Canada as young adults not knowing much English, but quickly they picked it up in order to make something of themselves and compete with the North American society. Things were not always easy but they were able to get through the tough times and learn to cope with their new life. Growing up with a big Italian family I have found a strong connection with my heritage and desire to find where exactly my roots lie. Recently, I created a family tree so I could uncover more about my heritage and find out who exactly have lead me to be the person I am today. Ultimately, I believe we can all learn many things about our own lives if we take the time to appreciate what our ancestors have done for us to get us to where we are today.

    1. Very interesting, Nicole! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Although various aspects of the Canadian culture greatly interest and inspire me, it is both my European heritage and related practices that significantly shape my identity. My family’s background and heritage both inform who I am today.
    My parents are both first-generation Canadians, with both sets of grandparents immigrating from Europe due to prosecution. On my mother’s side, I have grandparents of Polish and Russian descent, often recalling periods of destitution, whereby their families were unable to provide for them. As such, my value of the importance of education is greatly influenced by my mother’s side of the family. Having lived through periods of tremendous hunger and financial burdens I appreciate the necessity of a good education.
    Likewise, although my paternal grandfather was born in Canada, his parents also immigrated from Poland prior to World War II, leaving behind persecution directed at the Jewish population. My paternal grandmother of Czechoslovakian descent probably impacts most on my identity. Although lucky enough to survive the death camps of World War II, my grandmother unfortunately lost both parents and brother to the hands of the Nazis. Discussion surrounding this tragedy is often off-limits in my family, for fear of evoking unwanted memories and emotions. I have learned much from the hardships endured by my grandmother, admiring her triumph and persistence despite enduring such trauma. My grandmother’s story impacts identity, as it is through her that I am able aware of the importance of family, perseverance and faith.
    Not only is it the devastations faced by family members which has impacted my identity, but it is the Jewish traditions and values which denote who I am today. Aspects such as compassion, work ethic, and charitable expressions, also known as “Tzdakah,” are highly important. Moreover, food is also of tremendous importance in my culture. Holidays are often marked by family gatherings and meals enjoyed together.
    As such, my identity has been informed by both the experiences of my parents and grandparents as well as the traditions and practices they have passed down to me. While born in Canada and proud of my heritage, I am also a product of the experiences and traditions of my family.

    1. Thanks for sharing these very important memories and experiences! Excellent contribution!

  4. Any culture that I've experienced in my life as I was growing up is part of me. It helped to shape me become the person I am today. So in a way, it's safe to say that people mould their cultures together. People influence other people. People come in all different cultures in this world, too many to count. So when you meet someone and they give you knowledge or a piece of a quirk, trait, habit of theirs... I take this as gaining a piece of culture from them too.
    Experiencing different cultures and taking part in the holidays really open my eyes to how much diversity there really is on this planet. Since I am born and raised Vancouver all my life, I've been exposed to a lot of the Chinese, Indian and Flilipino culture. However, I also consider many other cultures within me as I have met people from all types of backgrounds who have made a significant impact in my life.
    How you live your life shouldn't be defined by the colour of your skin though. The poem "Theme for English B" by Langston Hughes is a constant reminder how the world is divided between the privileged and the commoners, the rich and the poor.. and it all purely based on the colour of your skin. Today, in a different generation than those times, I'm joyed to see the great leap forward that is being taken to break down cultural barriers. I hope that one day, we can all think like my peers and I- that we are infused with all cultures within one human body.
    We are who we are because of the people around us, despite the difference in cultures and skin colour.

    1. Very good points, Winnie! Thanks for posting!

    2. Hello Winnie! I also believe that any culture that I have ever experienced has become a part of who I am. The fascinating thing of being human is that we are free. We are fortunate enough to do anything we want (which includes immersing ourselves in a variety of different experiences). These new experiences and memories are what build and form cultures and traditions. In a place such as Vancouver, where there is so much diversity among us, it is only natural to want to venture out and try to get a taste of everything we see. It is this that builds a part of who we are.

      In addition, I agree that although we are slowly improving as a generation, there are still noticeable discrepancies between the rich and the poor and people are still discriminated because of the colour of their skin, their gender, etc. Despite our ethnicity or skin colour or anything that we are ever differentiated for, humans are essentially the same.

      Genetically, we are homogeneous. If we were to ever peel off the layers of our skin that bind us to who we are, we would see that on the inside (our organs, heart, everything pertaining to the anatomy and physiology of a human) is the same. We are no different than each other. No one is born better than another person.

      Although we all have our initial heritage/ culture/ traditions, it is up to us to continue growing as individuals and to meet, share and create a world filled with love and unity.

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  6. I do not see myself as a multicultural being because I do not believe in the word. I believe that we are not different from one another. We are all humans and we nearly one hundred percent identical in DNA so therefore just because you were born in a different part of the world or having parents born in different parts of the world doesn’t not mean you are different from someone else.

    I understand that we speak different languages and have different mannerism which creates distinctions but I believe we are all capable to see through that. Once we look past that, we will notice that we aren’t that much different from each other.

    We are all the same; we all have the same ambitions, same values, same desires, same fears and much more. I am against the idea that people are put into categories simply based on where they were born, their race, and religion. The world is changing and we are mixing regardless of the cultures; we are moving toward unity and there will only be one culture and one race.

    However some will not share this idea. People into classes and cultures and try to differentiate peoples. I don’t believe in the word multiculturalism because I don’t see culture as a way to differentiate people so if cultures mix then it doesn’t make a difference to me because I believe we are all one. We always have been and we always will be.

  7. Although born and raised in Canada, I definitely define myself as multicultural personnel. Though my parents are also born and raised in Canada, they carry Canadian culture and the strong Italian culture that all 4 of my grandparents obtain. With also ancestral roots from Germany.
    My grandparents on my mothers side were both born and raised in Italy. They moved to Canada in 1954 (grandpa) and 1955 (grandma) when they were 26 and 24. The spoke not a word of english, but slowly picked it up and by the year 1976 they were deemed Canadian citizens. Both my grandparents on my mothers side speak to me in Italian, which I can say has really helped define me as multicultural. I like to think I get most of my culture from my mothers side.
    My grandparents on my fathers side are much more “westernized”. They came to Canada at the young age of age 20 in 1957. They both picked up english much quicker and adapted to the culture far greater than my other grandparents.
    Coming from italian heritage, family is very important (like most european cultures). For holidays and birthdays, family gatherings are almost essential. I find myself at these gatherings almost once a week for some type of celebration on both sides of my family. I have grown up with the motto of family is everything. I follow most italian traditions and hope to keep these and pass it on to future generations.
    Both my grandparents and my parents have shaped my identity and made me the patriot (of Italy and Canada) I am today.

  8. I have a multicultural background not only ethnically, but also culturally. This diversity has given me much insight on my past, present and future life.

    My mother is South Korean and my father is Persian. I have lived in both South Korea and Iran and have been immersed in both worlds. Before moving to either S. Korea or Iran, I lived in Canada for 13 years. My childhood was in Toronto and so I had a very strong Canadian background. Moving to different countries at the age of 13 was a complete culture shock for me and really opened my mind to the world. It gave me a sense of appreciation and acknowledgement about the outer world, for I knew that it existed but never really put much thought into it until moving out. People's customs are more uniform in Korea and Iran, where as they are incredibly diverse in Canada. There is a certain hierarchy of respect and communication in countries like Korea and Iran. For example, in Iran people were so warm and they had a common trust with each other that made it seem like 2 strangers already knew each other.

    Such immersion in such cultures not only gave a respect for the 2 countries but also affected the was I would communicate with others. In a subtle way, I have integrated the cultures I have learned at home and now whenever any family members or relatives come to visit, I am able to relate and communicate at a deeper level with them. I hope to uphold and keep such traditions for the future to come!

  9. From my perspective, being multicultural is not solely defined by a person's ethnicity nor where he or she was conceived. I was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia and I am proud to be a Canadian citizen. To be more specific, I am seventy-five percent Chinese and twenty- five percent Vietnamese. I would not say that my ethnicity and origin makes me multicultural, but how well I reflect on various cultures within my everyday lifestyle has moulded me into a multicultural person.
    Ever since I was child, the Chinese culture has been a dominant part of my life; my parent’s introduced my siblings and I to various things such as unique Chinese cultural events, to traditional clothing especially used during Chinese New Year, to the language, and to the diverse cuisine. Overtime, I have also learned a lot about the culture itself from my aunts, uncles and cousins through past house parties to outdoor adventures.
    A part of being multicultural is about showing interest in a culture, learning, and immersing oneself in that particular culture. I do not have profound knowledge and experience in the Vietnamese culture, but I definitely show interest in it. When my father talks about the types of food his mother cooked for him when he was a child, it was mouth- watering. Occasionally, my father introduces me to assorted foods from Vietnam and my friends have also sparked an interest in me with the traditional clothing that the Vietnamese people wore called the “ Ao- Dai”.
    On the other hand, I was not born in Korea. I was not exposed to Korea's entertainment, fashion, or cuisine when I was younger, but I grew to love their culture from a single drama that I watched previously. Slowly, I began to immerse myself in their culture by learning how to cook their cuisine, learning their language, and watching reality TV shows to understand the Korean culture and their way of life.
    To reiterate, multiculturalism is not bound to skin tone and origin. It is about experience, knowledge, and interest. There are many ways to overcome cultural barriers thus slowly, but surely, people will find themselves culturally influenced to some extent.

  10. I was born here in Canada but my parents, grandparents and great grandparents are from China. They speak cantonese but also a dialect from the village they were from that not many people understand. Growing up with my grandparents I've picked up and learned to speak the dialect. Whenever I see relatives they would be very surprised that I am able to speak the dialect along with cantonese. However I would feel embarrassed speaking in public and in front of my friends because I'm afraid they'd think it sounds funny or weird. But one day I was talking to my chinese school teacher and she was really impressed that I knew how to speak it and she also knew how to speak it. She told me that fewer and fewer people know how to speak that dialect and that goes for any other chinese dialect. She also said that it was very important that I continued to speak it and to pass it down to the future generation because all the different dialects from different villages are dying. At that moment I no longer felt embarrassed about my special dialect rather I felt proud.
    My grandparents, specifically my grandma, is very superstitious and I would find the customs she grew up with in China to be weird and stupid. But what I've learned is that even though you did not grow up with those customs and are westernized, you should respect the culture your family grew up with and let it be a part of you.


  11. Ones identity is heavily influenced by their culture and background, personally, I am influenced by Chinese and Canadian culture the most. I am a first generation Canadian but my family is all from China which plays an important role in who I am today. Growing up, I was raised in a small town with very little chinese influence which resulted in me being more westernized and taking on many Canadian ways. However, with this said my whole family is very involved in Chinese culture which is why I still celebrate the holidays and can understand the language. Although these two cultures play the biggest impact on me, I believe as Canadians we are all impacted by the multiculturalism around us and we can considered ourselves multicultural. From the different types of foods to the jewelry and music we listen to, it is all dependent on the different cultures we have been privileged to be surrounded with. I am extremely grateful to be surrounded with all these new and unique cultures, I believe we are all influenced by these differences but also brought together by them. There are always unique aspects to different cultures that everyone should be open minded to try because it shapes us and our multicultural identity.