The thought has been addressed several times within the walls of O’Hare academic building, but the idea remains with me when I walk beneath the glowing exit signs. As an American, have you lost your family’s cultural identity? I have a sense of pride about my heritage for several reasons. My Pepere, who meant a great deal to me all my life, was born and lived in Louisiana until the age of five. Coming to New England and speaking only French was a difficult reality for him, but to me it is a fascinating and unique story. I’ve seen newspaper articles about the night they fled from their home down south, after a late night storm took their home to the sea; I’ve heard stories about the struggles of a child pushing against communication boundaries to find his way in a new home. While my Pepere, who lost almost all of his ability to speak the French language, never spoke much about his childhood and seemed very willing to put it behind him, I take great pride in the struggles he faced and overcame. It made him who he was, and he is a part of me. Another part of me is my Syrian heritage. My father’s grandparents immigrated from Syria, a great accomplishment as young adults. They took their grandfather’s name Saleme, and reconstructed it to form Salome- a more American sounding alternative to their current last name, Asaf. Though I don’t know my relatives still in Syria, I think the connection is so fascinating. My sister has done her fair share of research into this part of our heritage but I remain fairly uneducated as to our family’s Syrian history. Because I do not actively participate in the traditions of my heritage, can I consider myself to be a part of these cultures? Surely when I meet someone I would never introduce myself as Syrian or Cajun French, but do I even have the right to apply these labels to myself in any situation? Am I purely American? I cling to these labels because they are, what I believe to be, the most unique things about me. Yet I slowly realize; these labels are not who I am. The stories that go with the heritage; they are not mine. I can share the stories with pride and know that my relatives have lived incredible lives, but I need to lead my own journey for my grandchildren to share. I am a girl with a culturally diverse family history, indeed- but I am simply an American.
From my About section;
I’m starting this blog for the sake of my Psychology of Prejudice class, as a student at Salve Regina University. As a member of Salve’s VIA program, a collection of interdisciplinary courses focusing on the “good life,” I have been opened to many different opportunities and insights which I otherwise would not have ever studied. I have grown from the quiet student who had many thoughts she never shared, to the student who thrives on the exchange of information- not only in the classroom but in the world as well. I have become excited by the idea of connecting the lecture to life, and I hope that this blog serves to further that effort. I have, through my almost 3 years at college, learned so many new things about myself and my experiences from what I have been taught in the classroom. While I am keen on sharing my own experiences to show real world connections to my classmates, there will always be thoughts and stories I don’t have the opportunity to share in class. I hope this blog can serve as a platform to allow me to share my own information ; giving me a blank space to work out my classroom thoughts and real life experiences and find the connections between the two.