Discovering a new Culture
During my first day in Naples the first thought that crossed my mind was “wow! I’ve never been surrounded by so many Italians.” Although this may sound ridiculous to many people, of course there are going to be Italians in Italy, I come from a country that is not only populated by it’s native people. Coming from Canada I have become used to the diversity within the country. Walking down the streets seeing a variety of faces of people from different backgrounds. However, that is not to say that Naples itself is not diverse, as I was happily surprised to bump into many people from the Philippines, China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Nigeria to name a few.
Canada is an interesting place. Although we are usually associated with the United States of America our sense of place and nationality is very different. Americans are taught to recognize their American identity first before addressing their origins. For example, many people will introduce themselves as American-Indian or American-Chinese. However, in Canada from a young age we are taught the importance of recognizing our origins and how that benefits our Canadian nationality. In Canada we pride ourselves on living in such a culturally diverse country and celebrate these differences through a number of cultural festivals, such as Caribana (image below), that are held throughout the year.
Hi my name is Jasmine, and I am half Chinese, half Croatian, and 3rd generation Canadian. Where I live in Toronto it is very common to be surrounded by immigrant families. Often I find that out of my peers I end up being the “most Canadian” even though I may not look like it at first glance. By that I mean the majority of my peers were either born in another country or their parents were born elsewhere, often leaving me as the one whose family has been in the country the longest. So, even though I am ethnically mixed leaving many to assume that I myself am an immigrant, that is not the case.
That being said, I think that my family is very unique for its diversity because I am not the only one that is biracial. In fact, all of my cousins are biracial as well. I have cousins that are half Portuguese, Jamaican, Filipino, Native American, Italian, and Irish. I think that it is this diversity that I have been exposed to both in my country and within my own family that has inspired my own interest to want to explore different cultures. While I have the opportunity within Canada to explore different cuisines, hear a variety of languages as I walk through the streets, visit a Buddhist Temple or a Catholic Church, there is no better way to experience a different culture than to visit a new country.
So, after graduating university with a major in Global Studies and a minor in Religion & Culture, I saw the opportunity to volunteer in Naples and took it immediately. Through the organization IVHQ and INN I was given the opportunity to work with NGOs such as Dialogue Place and Project Ahead. Now I can say with confidence that I have discovered a new side to Italian culture that I had not known before. Before, I had thought that Italian culture was just one entity, but Naples has taught me otherwise. As my 5 weeks here comes to an end I can say that I am going to miss the fast pace of the Neapolitan city and the confidence and independence that the locals here seem to exude. Neapolitan life is distinct in comparison to my travels within Italy during my time here. I found that it reminded me of home allowing me to feel comfortable quickly. However, it also has a tough exterior that is uniquely Neapolitan.
For that reason, I am sincerely going to Naples and its people.
See you soon!