I Believe in Multiculturalism

Valentin - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on February 28, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I Believe in Multiculturalism

I lived in Switzerland for the first 12 years of my life. Growing up, I was not only exposed to 3 different languages, but also to the vast amount of cultures present in the small continent of Europe. I spoke Swiss-German to my mother, read German at school, heard Italian during my stay in Italy over the summer, and many times listened in to the conversations between my grandmother and her friend in French. Although I was not able to speak French and Italian fluently, I was able to develop and understanding of their distinct culture.

Multiculturalism is inherent in my family. My mother was born in Australia in the year 1963. She lived in Australia for 12 years, and then eventually moved to South Africa. Although she lived in South Africa for only 1 year, my mother was able grow an understanding of the distinct culture. With the age of 16 she moved to Switzerland, where she learned Swiss-German, and eventually French, Spanish, Italian, and German.

My father could be considered native Swiss, for he grew up in Switzerland, except for the fact that Swiss is not his ethnicity. His mother was Hungarian and his father from the very Southern part of Switzerland, in which they speak Italian.

I moved to the U.S. when I was 12 years old. Without speaking the English language, I was placed in the ESOL classes, for students whose primary language was not English. I found myself being the only Caucasian in every ESOL class, and everyone else Hispanic. I quickly made friends, which isn’t hard when you share a common linguistic blockade. After a few months, I even had a best friend, with whom I would spend time with outside of school. By that time, I could speak fairly good English, enough to take me out of ESOL classes and be placed in normal classes. My best friend came from Mexico when he was just a toddler. I spent a lot of time with his family, and was introduced to Mexican culture, which I never experienced back in Switzerland.

When high school started, I joined the International Baccalaureate program. A goal of this program is to introduce students to different cultures, beliefs, and perspectives. My classmates in that program ranged from the Western Caucasian to the Eastern Asian, and all the races in between. In every class I found multiple cultures, such as Indian, Vietnamese, European, et cetera. This led to my understanding of global cultures rather than only European, or Mexican, or American.

Living amongst many different cultures taught me to overcome a bias. This bias is the belief that your culture is perfect. Having experienced so many different points of views and perceptions showed me that other people do not see the world the same way I do. This world is filled with diversity, and us humans must accept and cherish it.

Experiencing multiculturalism allows Me to explore the connections between each individual culture in the world.