Expository – Exploring Issues of Identity and Belonging

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Prompt: Sometimes choosing to belong to one culture or group means losing your place in another.

The question of identity is always a difficult one for those living in a culture, yet belonging to another. This difficulty frequently remains in the mind of most immigrants, especially the second generations who were born in a country other than their parents and have gone through many society changes. Without much choice the younger generation feel culturally displaced as they are simultaneously living in two cultures. This generation no longer feels emotionally attached and cannot fully identify themselves with their indigenous culture. Yet on the other hand, those who wish to adopt the identity of their new culture usually haven’t been fully accepted by its original members.

Living within a different culture to our roots can enforce changes on our lives. Migrating to Australia has affected a lot of authors from Alice Pung’s vignettes of Growing up Asian in Australia. Michele Law displays her exclusion from the Australian culture with her “exotic lunches” prepared by her mother as well as her “hairless” Chinese body compared to other school girls. Being seen as an outsider to the Australian Culture can influence one to change their way of life to fit in and form friendships. Sunil an Indian schoolboy was faced with the choice of constantly being bullied over his differences or adapting to the more “Anglo-Australian” way by altering his name to Neil. Changing for others can lose your place in your original identity and culture. After visiting Honk Kong, Michelle momentarily feels identical to her surroundings with her Chinese ethnicity. After mispronouncing words when ordering at a Cantonese McDonalds, Michele comes to realise that she feels just as excluded in Hong Kong as she did in Australia. This sense of displacement caused by multiple cultures can question Michele’s judgment, “Am I more Asian or more Australian?”

Being caught between two cultures...
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