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Growing up in two cultures

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The mixing of cultures

I have always had my cousins around me. It was never that hard because I have about one hundred of them! When you think about it, it makes sense that there are going to be that many kids when you have about twenty-five aunts and uncles. And if you want to know about birthdays and other get-togethers, we had to hire out a hall for most of these events to hold everyone.

Having so many cousins means that you have an automatic network of friends. A network that is based on the Lebanese culture of family and religion and one that pushes you into a bubble world. If you step outside your culture by having friends that are not Lebanese you become on the outer of the bubble.

This was a difficulty for me growing up. I had to try and balance my school friends with my cousins. It was difficult because I never really felt fully part of either group. When I was with my school friends I was the only Lebanese, when I was with my cousins I wasn’t Lebanese enough.

What happened eventually was that I, like others, became something each group got used to. I brought in something extra to each network of friends, which made me stand out from the crowd. What really helped me in the end was having great friends on each side and a great Mother that encouraged me to open my eyes to different people and their culture. She used to tell me these things as she was making dinner, which was a combination of Tabouli, a Lebanese salad and Hokkien Noodles.

The balancing act I had to perform between my Lebanese culture and my American culture became quite difficult at times. Some of the things that I would do, eat, attend or talk about with my family were generally not compatible with the things I would do, eat, attend or talk about with my school friends. What ended up happening was a mixing of the cultures into my own culture. A hybrid of Lebanese and American culture that fit into all the things that I enjoyed and involved me in everything I wanted.

In the end I was still this creature that stood out. Someone that was asked questions about my ‘culture’. My cousins would ask me about the things I would get to do with my school friends. My school friends would ask me about the things I got up to with my cousins. I feel like I have the best of both worlds because I get to experience such a unique lifestyle. One that gives me an insight into trying to understand people on very different levels.

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