That’s an answer that is becoming more frequent in our globalised world.
Many people are born in one country, grow up in another, then move to yet another in their adult life – and oh yeah, their parents might have been from two (or more) different countries themselves!
I was reminded of this at a training session I did last week. How do we understand cross-cultural communication with each other, when the cross-cultural influences in our own individual lives are so, well, crossed?!?!
I can’t speak from personal experience on this one (I’m something like 10th generation Aussie), but from speaking with friends, I gather that they can resonate with certain aspects of each of the cultures that have been part of their lives.
I remember once doing an exercise in a language teaching class in Germany, where the activity was to colour-in the outline of a human body with where you thought each different language you spoke resided (one colour per language). For example, someone’s mother-tongue might be at their heart, and then the language they use in the office environment might show in their brain, and then they might use a different colour on the hands to show the language they speak in everyday life for practical things.
|Image Source: Unsplash – Scott Webb|
Definitely a unique exercise, but I think it was trying to express how all the different pieces can, in fact, fit together in the one person.
I think it might be a similar situation with individuals with multiple cultural identities. There is definitely a tension when they hear “where are you from?” – because really, this is like forcing them to ask “who am I?” – they know their answer will mean people form preconceptions in their mind of what they are like.
BUT apart from having an existential crisis of identity, I think in some ways this could be very freeing. People would have to get to know you more – they couldn’t just assume what you would be like when you have multiple cultural influences (of course you are amazing, because I’m sure you’ve picked up the best from everywhere 😉)
So…where are you from?