I’ve always loved learning about the world and cultures different from mine. As a mixed raced (most obviously African-American) woman, besides slavery, I don’t have much I can call my “culture”.* To some people, that’s not a big deal, but to me, it’s something I’ve considered important.
My family has never really celebrated Kwanzaa or other African type festivals, nor are we really into “black” culture. Being that I also have Native American, Dutch, and possibly other races, I suppose I could have looked into them, but I didn’t find out which tribe or the Dutch part until a few years ago.
When I was little I, like most young children, copied the stereotypes of things I saw on T.V., such as the pinkie out tea-sipping British, the silent walking natives, and probably others. (It doesn’t help that I mistakenly thought one of my grandfathers was a British gentleman for a good many years. It was simply because his clothing style made me think of rich British golfers, and he golfed – and that’s how my “logic” went back then.) It wasn’t as if I was mocking them. In fact, I still don’t totally understand the whole concept of “cultural appropriation”. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had a rich history and culture to draw back on, but I think I’d be happy if someone was enjoying learning and experiencing my culture. But that’s just me.
As a side note, I also think that some people get way too offended over things that weren’t meant to be offensive. Too many misunderstandings have not been resolved between too many people groups, and have unfortunately left their scars untreated.
To this day, I still hold my pinkie out at times when eating and drinking unconsciously, and minus cracking my joints, am a generally quiet walker (though with proper training I’d be much better…).
So after my British and Native “phase”, I got interested in Greek mythology. That has definitely opened my mind as a storyteller. I’m pretty sure at this point I was ready to move to either England, Italy, or France, if not having property in all three. Elementary me knew nothing of how to pay taxes to my own country let alone multiple…
Then by ending middle school – early high school my anime and manga phase began (which I still enjoy from time to time, though over the years I’ve gotten pickier with it). Ah, Japan, such a beautiful country. Dark, sophisticated, and beautiful. It is a land of many opposites and balances. I started nodding my head in a small bow in greeting people without even realizing I was doing it! So if you know me and you’ve said hi and I responded with a slight nod, now you know why.
Now I’m into South Korea/Japan. My love for culture has directly affected my language/communication skills and my music tastes. I listen to in English alone a wide range of genres, then you add Japanese music, Korean, British, Canadian, Latino (is that the right term?), some Chinese, some Australian, French, and so on.
Funny thing, at least to me it is, I couldn’t use chopsticks to save my life 2 years ago. After watching so many cooking shows of all types (I love food) and YouTubers trying Asian foods, I randomly decided to try using them again and just watching people use them trained my brain in the right way of doing it! [That might just be normal and I didn’t realize it, but whatever.]
Ah, the foods of the nations…I can’t wait to travel.
My desires to learn languages has only grown over the years as well. Maybe I’ll talk about my progress on that at some point.
After going to a school where half of the students were foreigners…I was in heaven! Getting to ask people questions about the world outside of what I’ve always known and break misconceptions and stereotypes I’ve previously had. I talked with people about the differences between our nations and ways of doing things without feeling the need to be “the better country” or always having the “better way” of doing things. So, why are a lot of us still dealing with that then? Even in our own countries we still feel the need to dominate someone else’s way of doing things, if we are not already the oppressed ones.
I don’t know, there’s something about bridging gaps and doing exchanges of learning from and teaching others who are different, yet similar to you that brings me to life.
My list of languages to learn, foods to try, and countries to visit is ever growing. I’m excited to see where I’ll go as time go on. Where time will take me.
Look out world; here I come!
*I’m not discounting any other nations or ethnicities, this is just my personal story.