My Two Cultures

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I had been oblivious to something important for the past four years, until a couple of weeks ago I stopped by a Romanian store to buy some mineral water. My husband and I treasure our Romanian water as starving men treasure their bread.

I looked around and heard people speaking my native tongue, and all of a sudden I started to cry. I wasn’t missing Romania, but I was missing my Romanian identity. Right there, in the middle of the store, next to the jars of jam and honey, I was proud to be Romanian. I decided to write this article as a statement of my feelings, and as proof of what my background means to me and to my development here in Canada.

In a way, I want my future children to know why I’ll always love my country, and why being Romanian in Canada is important to me.

Rather than trying to become Canadian, I discovered that I want to be me, a newcomer, an individual who shares two worlds and cherishes both of them. So many times, I felt that in order to be accepted in Canada I should try to fit into a box, to speak and act in a certain way. I rebelled against norms, and still do, because I feel that what I bring may be different but it’s certainly not wrong. I feel that I’m like another drop of colour which may give society a different hue.

Romania means my youth, my dreams, my summer vacations reading Ionel Teodeoranu, Rebreanu and Marin Preda, my first kiss at the Black Sea. It means discovering paintings by Tonita and Grigorescu, and the first time I learned to ring a peal on the bells at Varatec Monastery. It means playing with kids in haystacks and sleeping at my grandmother’s house in a bed near the stove with a black cat purring at my feet. My country doesn’t mean corruption and bad politicians, doesn’t mean injustice or ignorant people, to me.

My country means my dad pushing me in a swing, my mom buying me my first bra, my little brother sharing stories and future plans with me. My country is my past, but also my present. My country is a big important part of who I am today.

And there is Canada, and me in Canada.

Canada means freedom, dreams, empowerment and change. Canada gave me the opportunity to rediscover myself, to use all my five senses, to acknowledge that I have a second identity, a Canadian identity. Canada introduced me to diversity, to open-mindedness, to native history, to national pride and to volunteering. Canada made me stronger, wiser, resilient, patient and determined to fight for all my dreams.

While Romania is nostalgia, Canada is anticipation. While Romania is origin, Canada is destiny. In my mind there cannot be one without the other.

After my experience in Canada, I know that each of us who came from other parts of the world may struggle with our identities. We shouldn’t, because we are all special and valuable due to our identities; and this country is so unique because of our uniqueness.

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