In my high school sociology class we were asked to write down five things that define who we are and then pick the one that encompasses the largest part of our identity. My defining card ended up being “my ethnic background” which was really of no surprise to me. My parents immigrated to the States around 30 years ago and growing up in a FOB household was almost like being transported back to the mother-country. This had a huge impact on my identity. Elementary school made little impact to my attitude and understanding of what it meant to balance two different worlds but when Jr. high rolled around I was struggling to keep the two separate so that I would not have to justify either lifestyle. High school helped me understand what an advantage it was to be raised with a mix of cultures. I realized I was more open-minded, more accepting of new ideas and different people. And then I came to Babson. I was very prepared for the high population of international students and excited to be around people who had experienced the FOB baby upbringing similar to my own.
Nowadays I am surprised at how I express my background. I do everything in my power to advertise who I am but in a community where every other student speaks a different language, has traveled to countless countries, and is supported by a strong ethnic community it is hard to stand out. Last year I took an eye opening class called “Immigrants, Race, and the American Promise”. Out of the 30 students in class 90% were either international students or had immigrant parents. We addressed the interesting topic of how certain “white” people can opt out of admitting to their background on the basis of skin color. This caused a large disagreement within the class. Personally, it was almost an insult to think that I could or WOULD just drop my ties to my family’s culture. Our class concluded that because we have all experienced an identity struggle caused by a cultural tie, we had an understanding and loyalty to that culture. Ultimately how can you identify as a culture without building that understanding?