In life, we are always confronted with the ultimatum of choosing. Yes or no, left or right, in or out. In the beginning of my college career, I was often asked the question “So, which are you more? Italian or Taiwanese?” I wasn’t sure how to respond because I did not know that I had to pick one ethnicity. Growing up with both my parents, I never realized that I was unique, that having a Taiwanese mother and an Italian father was different. I felt that many of the traditions and customs I practiced originated from both cultures; I was an equal mix of both.
With my mother, I went to family gatherings at restaurants and there I learned the importance of respect towards elders, table manners and of course, I was able to discover all the different delicious dishes. When I was young, I would accompany her as she went grocery shopping at Chinese supermarkets and I observed her bargaining skills. She also had me attend traditional Chinese dance classes and enrolled me in Chinese school in hopes of me perfecting the language.
My memories with my father, however, are quite different. I went to Italian restaurants with him where table manners didn’t matter; the food and company did. We visited the butcher to make his famous meatball recipe and he showed me how to socialize and told me to always be kind and friendly to people. Although I was not a religious person growing up, my father told me about his Roman Catholic educated and educated me about the beliefs. We would visit his relatives often, as that was an activity that he held dear, as did my mother. Although they both introduced me to different lifestyles, I was able to find a healthy balance of both.
It is important for people to know about the differences and the similarities between cultures. By doing so you learn how to adapt to people and lessen the chance of any miscommunication. This is useful when attending college because you are exposed to a diversity of students and will need to speak with them. In a business setting as well, you need to learn how to network properly as etiquettes vary among countries. As someone who grew up feeling as if they did not belong in any one community and felt pressured to choose a side, it was a relief learning that there was no need to choose at all.