In the previous article, we discussed cultural identity. Cultural identity is a term that you frequently encounter - in the news, on social media platforms, on television, in magazines. In college and in the academe in general, the discussion will become more serious and incisive. It will be the subject of numerous papers, essays, discussion posts, research papers, presentations, speeches, and even debates, and your knowledge about cultural identity will only become more expansive. By now it is safe to say that you surely have acquired a firm grasp of your very own cultural identity. Awareness of your own cultural identity prevents you from projecting your own values onto others; projecting denotes the natural human tendency to assume that people of other cultures are doing things for the same reasons that you would. Awareness of your cultural identity also ensures your interaction and coexistence with people of other cultures will reach a more meaningful and more compassionate depth, and it can only get better once you have come to possess a healthy comprehension of their own concept of cultural identity.
Cultural sensitivity is the result of the acquisition of knowledge about your own cultural identity and that of others. The most befitting word to describe possession of such knowledge is "sentience," as you are now able to perceive and feel cultural differences. Your sentience, when guided primarily by humanity and warmth, empowers you to effectively break down cultural differences and make a difference.
It is common knowledge that most of history's major wars were ignited by refusal to understand other cultural identities. Nationalism, chauvinism, racism, prejudice, and fanaticism are by-products of the lack of knowledge of other peoples' cultural identities, the absence of "sentience." Thus, in this age of rapid globalization, the need for awareness of one's cultural identity is at its most pronounced to ensure the harmonious coexistence of the world's cultures.
Now, we will help you construct your first cultural identity essay. A cultural identity essay is similar to other essay forms since its parts are the same – title, introduction, thesis statement, body, and conclusion. It’s safe to say that a cultural identity essay is like a combination of a personal narrative and a reflective essay. The only difference is that you’ll need to describe your culture and how it shapes your life – related experiences, aspirations, factors that influenced and still influence you. Essentially, a cultural identity essay requires that you discuss how nationality, race, language, social class, ethnicity, religion, gender, heritage, tradition, and norms affect your life and viewpoint.
Cultural identity essay structure
A typical structure of a cultural identity essay follows the basic essay outline principles. A typical five paragraph essay is a good model to follow. The major parts of your cultural identity essay are as follows:
- Introduction. A crucial section of every good cultural identity essay. In this part, your audience is told who you are and what made you the person that you are. It is important that you talk about your personal background. The length of this particular section depends on general size of your essay. Generally, the introduction part should not be exceed 10% of your cultural identity essay. In addition, try not to include too much information here, even though you might be tempted to. Introduction is meant to tease, hint, and interest the reader, rather than revealing all up front.
- Thesis statement. A thesis is the last sentence of your introduction, it is not a part of your cultural identity essay. We describe it as a separate section because of its importance. Your thesis is an argumentative, powerful claim that has to be proven in the body. It is the purpose of your essay.
- Body. The length of the body section may vary. For longer essays (5 pages + or longer than 1500 words), there will be more paragraphs. For shorter ones, a single body paragraph is sufficient. The purpose of the body of your cultural identity essay is to build upon the thesis statement. This is where your analysis goes. Build connections between ideas and their consequences. For example, do not merely mention that you celebrated Hanukkah. Rather, demonstrate how it has shaped your cultural identity in particular way.
- Conclusion. Restate the major points here. Emphasize the thesis again, repeating what cultural identity you are and how it has affected you as a person.
Sample Cultural Identity Essay
My name is Junichiro Claude Matsuoka, an only child. I am a multiracial American and native New Yorker. My father is Japanese and my mother is French, and I speak both languages fluently. They were both born, raised, and educated in their home countries and were introduced to each other in graduate school in the United States. They then both worked at UNICEF. After which they got married and eventually decided to raise a family in multicultural and multi-ethnic New York City, the same house that we still live in. Their work involves a lot of traveling and they meet countless of people and experience even more cultures, religions, and belief systems. Although my mother is Catholic and my father is Buddhist, they do not have a strong concept or belief in God and raised me in a household that practices nothing but kindness and compassion.
As far back as I can remember, the only semblance of religion they taught me was to do goodwill to my fellow men, something that will never die. My parents instilled in me a strong sense of equanimity, morality, and work ethic. These beliefs do not only reflect my culture, they are also the core values of my family. Due to my mixed heritage, my family possesses many Japanese and French cultural traditions, aside from traditions from where I was born and raised. For instance, my Japanese father taught me the practice of Kaizen. Kaizen is the drive and effort to improve in all aspects of life – in my case, I practice Kaizen in my behaviour, outlook in life, relationship with loved ones, and work. I do it every day and has made my life more worthwhile. I also love sea urchin and sashimi with a passion – all because of my father’s influence. My French mother, for her part, passed on to me the love for art and the importance of a relaxed body and mind. I also inherited from her the love for delicious desserts and wine, philosophy, and yes, sentimental movies.
Twice a year, my family takes a long vacation – one in Japan and one in France. When in France, I feel so French. When in Japan, I am one full-blooded Japanese. When at home, I am an interesting mixture of both, with a dash of that recognizable New York accent. Due to my being a mixture of cultures, It is pure joy and satisfaction seeing my extended family on both sides at least once a year. I liken it to being around the world in a few weeks. However, there were a few years when we were not able to vacation in Japan and France. I used to consider those times as quite lonely. Now, looking back, they were really not sad at all because we had a chance to vacation with our friends from home. And for the past three years, every summer, I have been going on short camping trips upstate with my friends. When we do not have those, we enjoy just walking and strolling with our dogs at Central Park. But I have to say that the Fourth of July is the one American holiday I enjoy the most. Every year, we gather at a different friend’s house, cook sumptuous food, the range of which can be likened to the UN, prepare drinks, and just have a great time. Since it’s my home country’s independence day, we make it a point to really have a good time and enjoy life's pleasures. Almost all my friends have different backgrounds – Indian, British, German, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Israeli. I cover the Japanese and French. We jokingly call our circle United Nations.
I cannot think of any reason why I should not be content with my life. True, the differing backgrounds of my parents played a factor but it does not stop at that. I have developed and possess a distinct culture of my own and it is the combination of heritage and the influences that I prefer to identify with now. My unique culture, values, desire to help my fellow men, and pursuit of happiness are reasons enough to celebrate life. My cultural identity is the basis on which I live my life.
The cultural essay example above can serve as solid basis on how you can determine and establish your cultural identity. It is the combination of factors such as nationality, ethnicity, language, race, religion, tradition that you willingly choose to belong to. So naturally, only you can define your own cultural identity; your cultural preferences hugely contribute to the formation of your cultural identity. For further enlightenment, this video below should be able to help. The speaker's thoughts and statements are what comprises her own cultural identity. We hope you can learn while enjoying, and in the process, acquire the know-hows in crafting your own cultural identity essay. We are standing by if you need help.