Cultural Influence

melissa - lorton, Virginia
Entered on November 13, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: immigrant, work
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In my opinion, culture is all the aspects in your past and present that shapes your outlook on life and who you are. For me, my family’s heritage has effected me the most. My parents immigrated here from Liberia, Africa in the mid-1980s. They persevered and brought my siblings over. A few years later I was born. My whole life I have watched my parents work hard to give their children the life they never had. I have observed them assimilate into American culture, while maintaining our Liberian cultural values and customs. In Liberia my father was the chief of the Liberian national police and my mother was a homemaker. My parents left everything in Liberia to pursue the American Dream and allow their children to have access to it as well.

When they first arrived in America my parents lived in an apartment in D.C., now my parents live in a home in northern Virginia. I have watched my parents climb the social and economic latter, to reach a place where we are able to live comfortably. Because my parents show that hard work and dedication can make any dream possible, I apply this to obstacles I face. The qualities that best describe me are independent and pragmatic. I believe that I am as independent because my parents have raised me to rely on myself. I am thankful for this because I believe anything easily given to you by someone can be taken away just as easily. Independence allows me to have a high level of self pride and ownership. An example of this is the satisfation I get when I buy items with money I have worked for. Another trait of mine is that I am pragmatic. My parents have always taught me to examine a situation for more than its face value. I believe that my ability to look at circumstances from different viewpoints allows me to make good decisions.

If I was not born a Liberian-American, I am not sure where I would stand today.

My parents have passed many customs and values down to me from respect to their

religion. I gave a speech at my graduation party thanking all the people who have been

special to me over the years. The last words I said in my speech was “they [my parents]

have shown me that if you work hard, you can make it from the bottom to the top.” This

statement sums up the example my parents have set for me. They came to this country

with nothing and worked hard to live comfortably. My parents have achieved their goal of having all their children attend college. They have instilled their children with work

ethics and values to go out into the world and be successful in their own respects. I

continue to use those work ethics and values to guide me through life, because I feel if I

do not, their years of hard work would have been pointless.