The following post was written by Anna in response to the Day 7 Challenge Action: Have a conversation with someone about what you love about your culture.
As she shares what she loves about her culture, she also elaborates on her thoughts about America and its future that developed through her experiences:
As Americans we should recognize the cultural diversity in our community. Our nation is unique in that it has ethnicities from all over the world. As a responsible citizen, I believe that we should all work toward understanding the cultures apart from our own to gain a greater understanding of, not just our country, but our world.
I am someone who takes great pride in her Japanese heritage and is always ecstatic to promote multicultural understanding on any given day, so I chose to take up the Day 7 challenge of discussing what I love about my culture. As a simple list of the favorite parts of my culture, I love the food, traditional kimonos, traditional instruments and music, folklore, and modern culture as well. However, this enthusiasm I had for my culture did not always exist. It is through traditional food that I was able to develop this pride in my Japanese ethnicity. Because of this fondness I have for food, I chose to focus on this aspect of my culture.
I remember back in my middle school days I used to feel so ashamed of my ethnicity because of my food, due to being picked on for what I ate. While other kids ate hamburgers and fries, I was eating fish and rice. My mother knew of how I felt like an outsider, but that did not stop her from feeding me traditional Japanese meals. When I read Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks” I deeply empathized. When Tan’s mother says that “inside you must always be Chinese. You must be proud you are different,” it felt like my mother’s actions were put into a verbal form. “Fish Cheeks” filled my heart with nostalgia. If only young Anna could know that the traditional food would become her most favorite part of the Japanese culture.
Reflecting back on my pre-middle school days, I remember my classmates and I all took interest in each others’ differences. Perhaps it was because I was in a more diverse environment, but I find that children tend to be more open to things foreign to them. How is it that such open-minded children can become so judgemental and critical of these differences? I believe it is because of the adults, the role models, that possibly carry these prejudices which taint these children’s minds. However, in my experience I saw that these children became more open-minded again in high school. I would like to think that we are a generation of children who realized what these adults were doing to us. As we grew in high school, we learned to develop our own thoughts and recognize how these prejudices were a negative aspect to our community. Looking at this pattern, I feel that we as Americans are moving toward the right direction. As we get older, we become the role models. If the role models are open to differences, then the children will be too. I am hopeful for the future as these children are the future. I believe we are paving the path for a better society, a society in which everyone can embrace who they are.