January 15, 2010
To Whom It May Concern:
Just the other day my guidance counselor said, “Nick, you’re like liquid, you flow smoothly in and out of three languages and cultures.” At first I wasn’t too sure I wanted to be compared with liquid, like a puddle of muddy water or a glass of milk, but the more I considered her words, the more I realized that her metaphor is descriptive of my experience, and how I’ve learned to adapt because of my multicultural environment.
I was born to a Korean mother and a North American father, both of whom were called as missionaries to China. From an early age I remember wrestling with by siblings and my father on the floor of our small, cramped Chinese apartment. Many adults in my life have remarked, “You are so fortunate to have grown up with three languages and cultures,” or “You should feel really blessed to speak three languages and experience three cultures.” That never made much sense to me. All I knew was that I felt so different from everyone else. I hated that I seemed to have no “real” heritage or nationality. “Am I North American, Korean or Chinese?” Far from feeling blessed or fortunate, I just wanted to fit in.
One question that I despised the most was the one that was seemingly asked most often, “Which country do you like the best—the United States, South Korea or China?” My answer was always different, depending on who I was trying to be at the moment in order to just fit in, or to pretend to fit in. This was my sad existence for so long, mostly because of my inability to fully integrate my three cultures into a singular identity.
Culture and Language are the major issues in the post colonial theory. My assignment will deal with these three factors in terms of colonial perspectives. The post colonialism mainly explores the ideas such as cultural diversity, geographical dimensions, Diasporas, race, ethnicity, marginality, hybridity, national identities, cultural transformation, changes and politics in language etc… ...
It was not until I enrolled in a private international school in China that I began to change, to comprehend what it means, not to live a multicultural experience, but to be multicultural. For the first time I was with other kids my age who were living the same existence; more than fifty cultures were represented in my school. Though some students found it easier to form cliques according to their culture and language, I learned to appreciate my own cultures and the cultures of others. I knew it would no longer work for me to try and pick one culture and cast my lot with it. After all, I had spent my life trying to align with one culture over another. Instead, I began to create bonds across all cultures and to serve as a bridge for others to build relationships across barriers of language and ethnicity. In retrospect, I’m amazed at how easy this was for me. I guess that’s why my counselor views me as liquid, able to flow among all cultures with a sense of ease and confidence.
The world really is flat, according to Thomas Freidman, and I’m glad I developed this global perspective and expanded worldview early in my life. It wasn’t always easy, but now I understand that through difficult times we become stronger, that by coming to terms with who I am I learned how to connect with others, and that the skill of connecting people of varied and disparate languages, ethnicities and ideologies is a strength that will serve me for years to come, in university and beyond.