When I was in elementary school, we often spoke of immigration and cultural diversity. At that time, the words had no meaning for me and only sound edfancy. The teachers used to ask us where we took our roots from and whether we were born here or over there, on the other side of the ocean. We were asked to describe out native country, the place where our parents were born and then we would be asked to sample our mother tongue a bit. It all felt like we were guinea pigs entertaining a group of curious scientists. Although it should be mentioned that more than half of the student body was constituted of children issued from immigrants parents. I believe at that time, I simply enjoyed being with people with similar culture, it was much easier to relate to them.
When I started high school, things became a bit more difficult . Although, I started to learn more and more about immigration and understand what it actually meant, the environment was not the same as it was in elementary. Indeed I felt less and less like a guinea pig and more and more like a human being with a beautiful heritage, but it also became a responsibility of having to explain where I came from and why I could or could not do certain things. That is also when I truly understood what cultural diversity meant and the difficulties that came with having a different heritage.
From the very beginning I was exposed to many different schools of thoughts. It was a difficult task to find myself because at times, it felt like I had no identity at all. I cannot relate to the western culture because I’m growing up in a household that has a different mindset and that has different values and rules. At the same time, I cannot identify myself with the rest of my family still living in my home country. We are all living different life styles. The revolution I am living through is not the same as them. They cannot understand what the norms are here, as much as I cannot understand the types of hardship they may go through.
The mentalities clash and children like me are pulled on both sides. One side is about maintaining tradition, the culture we were born in and on the other side it is about adopting the values of the place that welcomed us. I think a lot of us, children from immigrant families, will agree that our childhood and adolescence is less of finding ourselves and more of finding a balance in all the different ideologies and values surrounding us. Because, even though we want to grow and be very open minded about the world, we also have a certain sense of duty towards our culture. We make a generation of half breeds. We are discussing LGBT issues while dancing the Bachata, we are debating pro-life and pro-choice while wearing sarees, we are growing, thinking on our own, getting out of the mold created for us and making our own, balancing different values.
writer:A canadian residential columnist