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Assignment 1: Defining my culture

Written on: Friday June 5th, 2009

A journal entry from: El Salvador, San Salvador

We have to blog periodically on specific topics and the first assignment is to define my own (Canadian) culture. This is pretty difficult to do I guess if I have to go beyond superficial ideas about a cultural identity. I remember watching an episode of the show The Amazing Race, and apparently Romania = gymnasts, vampires and "gypsies". Needless to say, I never watched another episode because I wasn't amused by the stereotypes.

Speaking with Larissa at my condensed orientation session, Ritha and I discussed the issues that we were facing at home in terms of going on this trip. Our parents are basically against our decision to go to El Salvador (although they're starting to come around since it's now a reality. I mean we're going next week!). It was really strange, but our parents said the same things. My parents are from Romania and Ritha's parents are from Ecuador. Both countries have been politically/socially unstable for various reasons which I cannot go in to at great length right now. And so, our parents cannot understand why we would want to "reject" our "safe" lives here in Canada, in exchange for a life that they hoped we would never know/experience. Explaining these issues to Larissa was quite difficult because this was not something that she had ever experienced before. She described her life as primarily independent and somewhat detached from her family's ideas/opinions. This was/is completely foreign to me. For instance, if I'm out of the house all day I'll be sure to get a call from my mom to see where I am, who I'm with, when I'll be home etc. I mean, there aren't restrictions on where I can/cannot be or what time I have to be home, but I have to at the very least be accountable for my absense. And so, it is interesting how someone like Larissa and someone like me can coexist in the same Canadian "culture" but have completely different experiences. It's like we're living in completely different worlds.

This shouldn't be surprising. I mean, it goes without saying that living in Canada does not determine a universal experience for every Canadian. Just like being "white" doesn't mean that you are rich, being an immigrant doesn't mean that you are poor, and drinking carrot juice doesn't mean that you like carrots (Okay I just threw that one in to make things interesting). I guess what I'm trying to say in all of this is that the deeper issues which define Canadian culture are more complicated than they may seem.

I hope that this all made sense. It's almost mid-night and I've been awake since 6:45am this morning trying plan my trip!


From Anique J on Jun 8th, 2009

I can relate to the experience you had with your parents reservations about your trip. I guess our parents are so used to protecting us and trying to push us forward that they forget how important it is for us to create our own experiences.