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Cultural identity shapes students’ lives


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Our cultural backgrounds and experiences often influence our identity and help shape us.  In this interview, five Woodcreek students share their perspectives on how their cultures have affected them and the people around them.  They also discuss the importance of cultural representation and whether they’ve ever felt frustrated with a lack of cultural representation.

Senior Female

My grandparents immigrated to the United States from El Salvador with a daughter ready to take on the “Land of Opportunity”. Though I will never be able to understand the struggle they faced leaving their home to come to a new place, they shared with me the importance of putting your family first. The foundation of our country was built with the hands of immigrants and yet, today, they are ridiculed in politics and in the media. I am proud of my culture and I hope that the world can progress to open their minds and arms to the same dreams that created these United States.

Senior Female

The Filipino culture has affected me and the people around me because my culture portrays hospitality, respect, love and caring, generosity and helpfulness, strong family ties and religions and a strong work ethic toward everyone. In my opinion the Filipino culture is everywhere throughout the media. Therefore people, who are Filipino express their religion and ethnicity, indicating that they are proud to be Filipino. I haven’t felt frustrated with the lack of representation of being Filipino, although some might say that I don’t look Filipino; but it doesn’t impact me.  In my opinion representation is important to cultures because you are respecting your culture in ways of expressing who you are as a person.

Junior Female

As a Japanese-American, my culture has affected me and others around me in many ways. As a kid I was often made fun of because of my differences. It affected others because I would have to  educate them and inform them of how we celebrate things differently and how these differences aren’t bad. I feel that representation for Japanese-Americans is lacking. Growing up I never saw people who looked like me in movies or on TV. Recently the light has been shining a little bit more on Asian-Americans, but I still feel like it’s not enough. I do have faith that the gap in the media will be filled with all the underrepresented cultures and hopefully it is filled sooner rather than later.

Junior Male

I don’t necessarily identify with one singular culture and I don’t think that it’s often that people realize that we fit into so many different categories nowadays.  We like to categorize and compartmentalize people and who we think they are when in all reality there’s never truly one way to describe a person. I myself see my own personal situation and think “Wow, I am mixed race, I am an AP student, I enjoy makeup and I’m Christian.” so culturally, I have many different “expectations;” but we also have to think of the general American culture, which dictates a lot of standards that aren’t necessarily achievable. I think that’s where representation is important because it shows us how diverse our communities are and it gives validity to those people who feel different or set apart from others. That being said, I’ve definitely had my own frustrations with lack of representation when it comes to racial diversity and acceptance of others who may be viewed as different.

Junior Female

I think my culture has affected me in social settings. Like I never learned the rules to this sport or the traditions that surround this holiday. I would say it’s only allowed to me to be educated by the people around me. I would also say that my culture has allowed me to correct misconceptions and answer questions that people have. I think representation matters because otherwise people grow up thinking they aren’t good enough to be represented, like their culture isn’t attractive enough to employ in pop culture. I have felt frustrated with the lack of representation and the representation that I do get. All the Indians portrayed in movies are usually nerdy guys who are good with computers, and that is in no way a representation of me.

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