My Family Culture

A major catastrophe has almost completely devastated the infrastructure of my country.  My immediate family is among the survivors of this catastrophic event.  I am told that the host country’s culture is completely different from mine and that I might have to stay there permanently. I can only take 3 small items with me.

As I try putting myself in this dilemma above, I try to evoke emotions that might be clearly prevalent in a horrible situation such as being a refugee in a new country. Panic, fear, confusion, a deep sense of loss, and gratitude that my family has somehow survived. The uncertainty of the unknown; a new culture, a new language, and a new home country seems to be also at the forefront of the whirlwind of emotions one must be feeling when encountered by such life-changing events.

The first priority is the safety and well-being of my family.  However, when faced with such stringent circumstances one must also look to preserve what little is left of their family culture. Thus my initial 3 small items to bring with my family and I would be our official documentation: birth certificates and passports. I believe bringing these official documents will serve in establishing identifications in the new country.  The second item I would bring is a family picture album which consists of generations of our family members each with a small blurb of their name and a special event of great importance in our family and the last item I would bring is teachings from my Yoruba religion.  The book serves as a spiritual guide to continue our faith and teachings on our moral obligations to lead a purposeful and positive life.  All of these items are very important to our family and each serves as a reminder of our culture.

As I reflect, I notice some insights about the items chosen, they are representative of surface culture elements. The cultural aspects that an individual might be able to physically see is referred to by Derman-Sparks & Edwards (2010) as surface culture.  Surface culture encompasses what an individual can “taste, define and easy to see” (p56). These can be things such as foods, holidays, costumes, and other objects. However, culture is much deeper than what we can physically see, and culture can be related to a family’s values, beliefs, how a particular family does things, or their interpretation of a family structure (Laureate Education, 2011).

As I receive the blow of news that I must now only take one item, I realize that pictures seem superficial but our family belief system is important to the deeper identity of our culture. I believe that keeping our values, traditions. rituals and teachings are pertinent in keeping the strength and integrity of our family culture, therefore bringing our religious teachings would be the one thing I would bring.

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2 thoughts on “My Family Culture

  1. Your words with regard to your religious text show a deep commitment to share your values. I appreciate how you noted the text is more central even than the emotional tug of photographs as it provides critical traditions and rituals. You bring up an interesting point in connecting your birth certificates to culture as a source of identity. They connect the personal claim to a country to the government’s validation. While yes, these things identified are cultural artifacts that are surface level, I think your connection to them establishes them as more central than surface.


  2. Lily,

    I enjoyed readying your post. It is very interesting that most of our classmates also chose to keep religious items. I believe that faith is something that keeps us grounded. I also realized that pictures are materialistic and memories are things that we can forever relive in our hearts and minds.


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