Bicultural


1 (a father)

It is encouraging to find this web site, one that encourages the next generation to be bicultural. Biculturalism in the US is not new; it has been practiced for generations, but was recognized as a realistic alternative to coerced acculturation/assimilation only in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Bicultural citizenship is a goal for all of us as one of several ways through which the US will become a genuine multicultural nation.
I am a bicultural white/anglo american, with two biethnic sons who were raised to view themselves as genuine bicultural persons. I have been an advocate of biculturalism in the US for thirty years, and would like to congratulate and encourage the Iranian American parents who are raising their children to be bicultural. This is not an easy endeavor in our society. Even today, with all the rhetoric about cultural pluralism, we continue to be very monocultural in our definitions of our selves as cultural beings.
I am not certain how I might be of assistance to persons who are interested in becoming more bicultural, but I would be interested in exchanging questions and ideas about this alternative citizenship which opens doors unavailable to the monocultual identity. My philosophy is that each person should accept the personal responsibility as a history-maker to define one's personal identity as a bicultural being, rather than have one's cultural identity be imposed by others. And I see "becoming bicultural" as a life-long developmental experience, during which having the empathetic mentoring support of others can be very helpful.


2 (a mother)

I am an American Mom and the pedar is Iranian. We are trying to decide what to do about the religious aspect of our family. We have a 3 year old and an infant. I was raised in a very strict Christian home and my husband was raised in a very strict Muslim home. Neither of us have been practicing any faith for about 18 years now. We both feel that religion is a tool (to some degree, no disrespect intended) and the important thing is to be a "good" human being. We both believe in one God. Beyond all that, we thought that since we live in America and he doesn't practice Muslim that we might just as well bring our daughters up as Christian. I was wondering if any other, more matured families have done this and what their experiences have been. We celebrate Christmas and Noo Ruz with equal enthusiasm. I do not think it is good to grow up without any roots at all, besides the fact that religious routines provide many avenues toward community and social contacts. Can I teach them Christianity and Islam and expect them to be able to choose what to follow or is this just something I am saying to reassure myself? Does religion matter? Any comments from anyone (Parents or Children) would be appreciated. I want my children to experience and have both cultures (they are learning Farsi and we live in an area which has a large Iranian community) but I do worry about them having identity crisis as teenagers.


3 (a madar)

Dear mother #2,

I want to congratulate you on being such an aware and wonderful mother. It seems that both of you are raising a wonderful family. I wish the best for you and your family. If I dare to suggest and give you a few pointers that you might find usefull. More than anything a human being needs an infrastructure to built his / her belief structure within that. To explain a bit more I want you to imagine a circus tent which has a tension structure, your house which is a post and beam structure a highrise which is a steel frame structure they all house human beings . Inside them people eat, lough, sleep, play, they do all sorts of the same things and think the same things. I want to liken religion to the structure of the building and point out that what and who lives inside those structures is of the same fabric we are all humans. Best example is that a christian (you) and a muslem (your husband) love each other and made a beautiful family. I can't belive that you don't see the forest for the trees. You and your husband are the best models for your children. You are the best models for the century to come. Teach them all the religions, include buddas hindus and jews, let them know that everyone worships god and how lovely this god is. Celebrate every thing you can get your hands on. Your children are the future of human beings and the new open way of thinking. We all have to wake up to it. Send them to a christian private school for example if you think they have a good curiculum (spelling?) but explain to them why are you sending them there because they have a great education programme. For your own edification to gain more tools study more ancient mythology, you'll see that we are all one more and more. Ask me if you want some good readings. The best way to deal with this is to educate ourselves as parents so we have something else to say rather than what we know (islam and chritianity). Show your kids that through the history how people who believed in the same god killed each other for stupid differeces. The best weapon for your kids against any confusion is their crisp clear knowledge about history, mythology and literature. Have your husband read to you and translate to you this Rumi poem "deed moosa yek shabani ra berah koo hami goft ay alla va ay khoda" in a nut shell it's about a sheep herder who was worshiping god with passion and singing for god , Moses listend to his prayers and song and blamed him for praying like that and demanded him to pray in the right way proper and with lots of respect and instructed the poor sheepherder the proper way of praying... the sheepherder got really sad and felt truely stupid and started crying that he was praying wrong all this time and ran away and stopped praying. So god sent message to Moses that basicly you screwed up and I didn't put you on this earth to seperate me from my people I put you down here to connect them with me and each other. Knowledge is a glue, it'll bring people conncted to the world and god and other human beings and seperates humans from non-humans. The matter that you've brought forth is a very intricate and delicate matter. I believe that kids awareness and trusting their own inherent wisdom can bring children their thought infrastructure, which I hope is a flexible and an accommodating one that can fit a lot inside it because they need a fuse that doesn't blow up fast (very tolerant and respectful to others) for the 21st century. My thought are very primitive and raw, but I hope I was a bit of help. Sorry for the bad english and lots of errors I hope I've connected to you.
Sincerely ,


4 (a madar)

Amen, madar #3 ...


5 (a mother)

Hi:

I'm also glad there is a website on the subject of biculturalism. Unfortunately, there is not enough information. I was curious to know what you thought of the following. I've been discussing with my fiancee who's Italian how we are going to raise our children in the future. By the way, I was born in the US but am of Argentine descent and lived in Argentina for 14 years and in the US for about the same amount of time. I consider myself to be bicultural and would like to talk Spanish to my children as they grow up. Paolo, my fiancee, knows Spanish and would'nt mind speaking it either. But here is where the question arises... would talking in two languages to a child have a negative effect on his/her identity? Would his/her performance at school suffer as a consequence of speaking two languages? What about interacting with other kids?

I would greatly appreciate your opinion. Thank you very much.

Sincerely,


5 (a father)

Hi mother # 4:

At the beginning when they are young they might have some difficulty with speaking two languages front of their friends and teachers.They might even feel isolated and threaten.

However when they grow-up they feel so ashamed and ignorance on why they did not take the opportunity to learn more than one language. Then they feel so lonely and isolated when they are visiting their home land, or even when they are with friends and families whom speak the language.

Isn`t this true with us as adults. We all love to know as many languages as we can . And we can even brag about it front of the ones who don`t.

It is difficult for us and them (kids) when they are young, but think about the future.


Please send your replies and/or opinions regarding this subject to madar-pedar@surya.eecs.berkeley.edu.


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