YIIP assignment #1 - Defining my culture
30.05.2008 25 °C
After many weeks of planning, procrastination, and mental preparation I am finally sitting down in front of the computer and thoroughly thinking about what is my culture and how I could define it. I'm not really sure how to tackle this question and I don't really want to philosophize over pages about the complexity of the term and what it entails.... Instead, I will just tell you my personal story and leave all the thinking to you!
My story has begun in cold Russia, where I was born in 1985 to Jewish parents. The fact that we were Jewish already distinguished us from the majority of Russian society and it wasn't uncommon to get reminded of our differences through various forms of anti-Semitism. After the fall of communism, in 1990, my family immigrated to Israel and the first place we settled in was a small kibbutz in the south of the country. From the kibbutz we moved to nearby Ofakim (which at the time had the highest unemployment rate in the country), then moved up north to Qiryat Tivon (a small, green town near Haifa with a lot of snobs), and then to Afula (a mix of Russians, Ethiopians, and Moroccans). In 2002, at the age of 17, the family moved once again to Toronto and I've been residing there since.
Each place had its own characteristics and its own dynamic and each had its own impact on my personality, my identity, and my culture.
The four D's
Dialect - I speak Russian with my parents and other Russians, Hebrew with my friends and other Israelis, and English with everyone else.
Design - I'm not really sure what this refers to... I don't do any designs myself but I could probably tell with good accuracy the difference between a Russian design, an Israeli design, and a Canadian design, whether it's fashion, art, or architecture...
Dance - I don't do any folk dancing anymore (I resigned at the peak of my career). I'd dance to psytrance though... which is a pretty Israeli thing to do. By the way, is there a Canadian folk dance I don't know about or is it just grinding in clubs?
Diet - My diet consists mainly of my mom's Russian and Jewish cooking. The Israeli influence is also noticeable with the occasional Hummus, Showarma, and stuff on the grill. We don't do much Canadian cooking in the house but we have embraced the Caesar salad and veggies with a dipping sauce.
Some quick facts
- I have a different name in every language
- I don't look Russian so Russians and Israelis generally can't tell (imagine the benefits... I could be a spy for all they know...). Canadians and others usually guess that I'm French.
- I speak with a strange accent in Russian and English. My Hebrew is fluent but on recent visits to Israel some people apparently could hear some Canadian accent.
- In Russia I am called a Jew, in Israel I am considered (by some) as a Russian and in Canada I'm an Israeli or a Jew.
To truly understand someone else's culture you either have to live it yourself or do a lot of reading on the topic.
I hope this rough outline of my culture gave you an idea of where I come from and I how I turned out to be so amazing. If you'd like to know more you can invite me for a cup of tea