My Culture and Me: Personal Experiences and Cultural Differences

I grew up in a multi-cultural city in which mine being the Chinese culture, English was my first language despite growing up in a Chinese culture. This is essay about my cilture in which I'm going to write about my story. 

The color red that is part of our materialistic Chinese culture and it symbolizes good luck, happiness and good fortune. Red is being used in many Chinese calligraphy to be hung up not as a décor, but it is believed to ward off the evil spirits especially during the Lunar New Year that we celebrate every year. During this time of year, the married couples would go around giving relatives cash in what we call “red envelopes” to represent them giving their best wishes. In the past, my culture believes that we should wear traditional red clothing such as the “cheongsam” during such occasions to invite the good energy into our life for the coming year, but as times change; we can now dress as we please as long as the clothes are new and unworn, this symbolizes that we are somehow leaving behind all the misfortune and welcoming the new year with a fresh clean slate. 

“Kungfu” meaning Chinese martial arts represent the Chinese culture, one of my favorite childhood memories would be that my parents took me to Chinese operas where Kungfu was part of the performing act, music played a huge role in such performances as it tells the audience the message of the story. Chinese operas represent a huge part of non-materialistic culture. They were usually performed at auctions paired together with a buffet dinner, I remember as a kid I enjoyed going to such occasions and would even try to imitate their performance because I was so intrigued at how precise they were with every movement, I was even envious of the performers hoping that I’ll be able to perform on stage just like them. 

I remember experiencing my first culture shock when I was in America, one of the more outstanding points were the attitude and patience compared to how it was back home. How I grew up in my culture was that everything seems so fast paced and people simply don’t have the time or patience to be kind to one another, an incident that took me by surprised was when a stranger saw me trying to catch the bus and waited for me at the entrance so that to make sure I got on the ride before the bus left, I was very grateful as I was still quite a distance from the bus stop and if it weren’t not for that kind soul, I would have missed my ride to school. I found it particularly interesting as to how in most Asian families we handwash our dishes compared to American families, also funny enough I have not heard of a dishwasher till I came to America. 

In my culture, we were taught from young to handwash our dishes as we do not trust dishwashers to wash the dishes clean enough and it was also believed that dishwashers waste lots of water and power. I was often reprimanded for being lazy and using the dishwasher instead of handwashing them, believe it or not most Asians use the dishwasher as a drying rack for our dishes. 

In my culture, we are told to bow and greet the elderly in the room before talking to someone else or it would be deemed as disrespectful and trying to claim the authority figure by showing such ethnocentrism behavior. I strongly believe that such mannerism should be done at one’s own will, unwillingness not only makes it lose the whole meaning of the act but also actually being respectful at heart; which is important in shaping us as we grow older. 

Overall I still try my best to abide to the culture I grew up in to feel a sense of belonging and acknowledging the work our older generations have put in to shape the world today.   

10 October 2022
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