Concordia Globetrotting Seniors Share Cultural Identity

Concordia seniors have been presenting information and research about cultural identity from their personal experiences and perspectives, in a seminar class led by Concordia’s Director of Counseling, Mr. Ben Compton.
 
Three seniors with various international backgrounds and cultural identities shared their insights. 

Yassen: Yaseen holds three passports and, having moved with his family around the world, says his experiences give him a in-depth perspective on the world.

Which cultures and countries have you lived in? What has been the biggest advantage for you to have the experiences you have had? 
So far, I’ve lived in the United States, Georgia (the country), Singapore, and Vietnam. Each country has presented me with completely different cultures. The biggest advantage of living in these countries was the ability to meet many different types of people, and visit drastically different areas. It is these experiences that prompted me to become interested in the study of Economics and Environments. 

How do your past experiences help you navigate getting to know people from many different countries and cultures? 
My past experiences help me to meet new people because I’ve learned to embrace diversity. Being given the chance to get to know people from different countries and cultures is an opportunity people should make the most of, and not shy away from. It gives you a chance to learn more about the world you live in. 

What has been your biggest challenge? 
The biggest challenge for me has been moving away from my friends. I stayed in each country for about five years, and as I got older my connection with friends grew deeper, thus making goodbyes much harder. Although I would say the positives of experiencing what I’ve experienced outweigh the negatives, it is always tough to move on. 

Any advice you would give parents or students seeking to reside internationally? 
My first piece of advice would be to research the place you're thinking about residing, and talk to different people there. In my case, my parents and I had to make sure each country and city had adequate schools for me, and good hospitals and such. However, beyond this, I would certainly say to take a leap of faith and try residing abroad. It gives you an unparalleled opportunity to open your eyes to what’s going on away from what you’re used to.

Meleyna: Meleyna is from the US and, having moved to this country seven years ago, speaks Vietnamese - so home is where her friends are.

Which cultures and countries have you lived in? What has been the biggest advantage for you to have the experiences you have had? 
I was born in Toledo Ohio, bounced between Ohio and Michigan, and then moved to Vietnam when I was 10. It was a huge culture shock moving here so young, as I had never really been exposed to many other cultures while living in the States. So in total, only two countries and two subsequent cultures... far less than most fellow TCKs (third culture kids)! 
 
The biggest advantage that I've gained from my unique experiences is that I've truly grown to become an active global citizen. Beyond being an ESLR at Concordia, this trait and state of mind have allowed me to become invested in the world around me. I've become interested and active in global issues, participating in extracurricular activities that help me become more informed and aware. I've been able to travel all over the world, interact with different people and cultures, giving me amazing first-hand experiences. None of this would've been possible without living internationally. 
How do your past experiences help you navigate getting to know people from many different countries and cultures? 
 
Growing up attending a large public school, I developed a natural ability to talk to others and connect with people. Also, my dad is quite a social butterfly, so following his example, I do my best to be outgoing and reach out to others. These past experiences have definitely enabled me to be comfortable with reaching out to others, both similar or different to myself. 
 
What has been your biggest challenge?  
My biggest challenge as a TCK, a challenge I am still struggling with, is a sense of belongingness. Moving to a different country while growing up has caused me to detach from the idea of having a geographical sense of home. As a TCK, you start to attach the idea of "home" to a group of people, rather than a specific place in the world. TCKs are exposed to a lot of unique life experiences that can be really wonderful and meaningful, but at times can also cause you to feel isolated and not completely understood. It's hard to find other people your age that have similar life experiences.  

Any advice you would give parents or students seeking to reside internationally? 
The best advice I can offer parents or students that are considering living internationally is to just embrace all the challenges and struggles that are bound to come up along the way. To this day, my family and I still laugh about and remember some of the harder parts that came along with our first few years of international living. The first cockroach killing, the first time getting lost in the Old Quarter, and our first time getting stuck outside during an infamous Hanoi rainstorm. Moving internationally is difficult, but long-term it is extremely rewarding. I am grateful for the opportunity I've had to move to Hanoi as it helped me grow as a person, widened my lens of perspective, and has helped me grow closer to my family.   

Jiwon: Jiwon is Korean, and, moving to Vietnam two years ago, has learned that friendship is universal. 

Which cultures and countries have you lived in? What has been the biggest advantage for you to have the experiences you have had?  
I have lived in Korea for 16 years. It is late compared to the other students. Many things are different here including language, so it was a bit difficult to adjust here at first. 

How does your past experiences help you navigate getting to know people from many different countries and cultures?  
I have never been to many different countries, but there is something I learned here: that there were no big differences between the friends I met here and the friends I met in Korea. All of the friends that I met here were so kind and friendly.
 
What has been your biggest challenge? 
 
For me, the biggest challenge was the language. I had to learn scientific and literary terms in English. I didn’t even know some basic terms like isosceles. But EAL class helped me a lot to improve my English. I could practice writing, reading, and speaking in the class.I usually recharge my phone before I go to bed, but that day I forgot to do so. The following day, I planned to go to a restaurant, so I called a grab taxi. However, because I chose the wrong destination, the taxi dropped me off somewhere I have never been before. Because the battery of my phone was only about 1% and I couldn't speak any Vietnamese without the help of google translator, I was in a panic. Fortunately, I could call a taxi before my phone went dead. I might have gotten lost that day. After that day, I learned some basic Vietnamese, so at least I can tell my destination to a taxi driver without the help of google translator.  

Any advice you would give parents or students seeking to reside internationally?  
I understand that living in a completely different environment is challenging, but this is a good opportunity to widen your experiences. Even though I came here in the 10th grade, I adjusted here well. You don’t have to worry about language or adjustment too much. This school has programs like EAL that can help you. Nothing is too late.
 

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