The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

Students reflect on keeping their cultural identity


By Aleeha Shah | staff writer

Whether someone continues to live in the country they were born in, or they move away for whatever reason, that doesn’t mean they forget where their heritage comes from. Regardless of where a person chooses to live, their traditions remain with them. For example, junior Thomas George, who is originally from India, brought his customs with him when he moved to America.

“I lived in India for 11 years. Living that long with my grandparents really taught me the culture, and even when I moved here I try my best to keep the same culture,” George said.

While it may be easy for some people to participate in a variety of cultural activities, it may be difficult for others to do so depending on where specifically they are from.

“It’s hard sometimes especially when you come from some place like Bangladesh and you’re here [America] where that population is so low,”senior Audrey Kuykendall said. “There’s not a lot going on in your direct community like there is with other cultures that are more predominant here, but we keep everything at home. Like we sing, and we cook, and we worship.”

Kuykendall went on to say how she grew up struggling with her background, but as she got older seemed to embrace both her American and Bangladeshi heritage.

“When I was younger, I thought I had to be either this or that, like there’s no room for me to be both American and maintain my Bangladeshi heritage,” Kuykendall said. “But now that I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that I can’t be who I am unless I have those two. They’re the main part of my identity.”

Like Kuykendall, Lee also believes heritage is a big part of your identity and that it is important to hold onto it especially in America.

“Here in the U.S. everybody focuses on diversity, and especially with college essays they focus on your identity and with the different influences you have with everyday life,” Lee said. “I do believe that culture is definitely important and while it is good to mix things we need to remember the origin of things.”

In America, there are unique cultures and traditions so it may prove challenging for some people to hold onto aspects of their heritage. For example, senior Theresa Bitterlich came to America from Austria, and has noticed some changes within herself.

“When everyone does the same thing and you’re the only one that is different then it is harder to hold onto yourself,” Bitterlich said. “I noticed that I’ve kind of changed, but I think that when I go back to Austria I will be back to normal again.”

Because the culture in America is not the same it is easy for some people to be influenced by the people and societal norms that surround them.

“I think it’s impossible to forget where you come from but I think it’s easy to succumb to what other people expect you to be and how they want you to be,” Kuykendall said.

Regardless of how much people think about where they come from, it will always be a part of them. In fact, sophomore Ananda Bhatia, who also gets her heritage from India, seems to admire many aspects of her heritage.

“I value a lot of the things about my culture like food, different celebrations, and clothes.  Everything about my culture is a part of me and I like that I’m Indian,” Bhatia said.

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Students reflect on keeping their cultural identity