I had never previously thought extensively about my cultural identity in terms of labels, or names, or titles. I simply knew that I had lived the greatest experience of life, as a resident of Querétaro, México and Clermont-Ferrand, France throughout my youth. My father works for the tire company, Michelin, which holds its world headquarters in Clermont-Ferrand. For his work, my family moved to Clermont-Ferrand when I was in 6th grade. We lived there for three years, in which I attended a French school with various other students – not only from France, but also from Poland, Hungary, Sweden, Serbia, Spain, and more. I was both immersed in French culture and learning about other European cultures, and I am forever grateful for this expansive, enriching experience. Prior to France, my family lived in Querétaro, México for my father’s work as well. I lived there from 2nd through 5th grade, attending a Mexican-American school alongside students from México, South Korea, and Spain.
Living abroad at such a young age truly influenced my worldview, my personality, and what I want to do with my life. In México, since I was around 10 years old, I was still a child. When we are children, we view the world through a much more innocent, arguably clear perspective. I was able to enjoy the beauty of the country and the kindness of Mexican people without any adult worries. I credit this childhood experience for infusing me with an excitement and love for other cultures. This was the root of my passion for pursuing area studies in college. I am currently majoring in International Comparative Studies, with a concentration of China and East Asia. I believe that it is imperative to learn about a culture, its history, its current traditions, its language (or languages), and how it has evolved, in order to be a more ethical presence in said culture’s country or countries.
While living in France, I began to gain a political consciousness. I was present when the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting occurred, and I saw how the country responded. I also saw how French people of European roots could be discriminatory toward French people of Middle Eastern roots. As I grew older, I understood how French politics and policy supported and even amplified this discrimination. During my time there, I also had the privilege of visiting the United Nations in Geneva. I listened to a tour guide speak about the treaty ending the 1991 Gulf War, and I realized that building intercultural understanding and ending international conflicts was a career that was feasible, realistic, and even likely for me to pursue. I credit my time in France for inspiring me to pursue a major in Public Policy, exploring how to create policy that is beneficial for all demographics.
Today, as a student at Duke University who spent her four high school years in Greenville, South Carolina, I am reflecting on my culture – or cultures. I do not identify with a particular single culture, but rather a combination of different aspects of the cultures of each place that I have had the honor of living. For me, I identify my cultures through the personality traits that I gained from each place. I have adopted the vibrant, outgoing, celebratory aspects of Mexican culture. I have adopted the thoughtfulness and dedication of the French. I have adopted the go-getting initiative of people of the United States. Now, this is not to say that French people cannot be celebratory, that Mexican people cannot be go-getters, or that American people cannot be dedicated. They can. They are. Every culture exhibits a vast array of incredible characteristics that overlap and intertwine in incredible ways. I find myself at this intersection. I do not know how to put a label to my culture(s), but I do know that I do not need to. I’m in the middle of an exploration of who I am and how the world influences me.