Migration and Cultural Diversity

Migration and Cultural Diversity

Diversity is often preached as quite a simple process which simply requires an immigrant coming from a foreign land with different customs beliefs and religions to simply go to a barbecue and have a couple of beers with the local lads, but alas this process is a lot more difficult when you zoom down to the micro individual level. Speaking as a now adolescent who is verging on the ripe youthful age of twenty who migrated from Bangladesh, Malaysia and then to Australia at the age of five, it can be said that this process of fully being a diverse immigrant is filled with pitfalls and sometimes hopeless moments of feeling quite simply left out of society.

The trick it seems is to find the all too elusive middle ground, a way to keep connected with your cultural identity and to successfully integrate into the new country that you have moved to without losing any part of yourself.

Throughout my life I have often found myself in the situation where I was seen as different, anti-social or quite simply weird, admittedly the beliefs and customs and morals I have grown up with are quite different to that of an everyday Australian, though at the same time my personal behaviour and morality structure is also vastly different to that of the everyday conservative Bengali (Bengali’s being the ethnicity of people I am descended of). It seems that what I personally have learned is trying to draw personal identity from any one culture is simply impractical and futile, harsh as it may sound, I myself could contest that one could only flourish when they identify not with a group but individually.

To this writer the modern day Australian should describe themselves in the traits, beliefs and customs that they follow as an individual, not simply referring to the vague and often misrepresented cultures of any particular group, as it is quite obvious that even within social structures such as an entire culture there are subcultures that in all honestly do not represent the individual in much of an accurate way, as every human being as their individual perks, strengths and weaknesses.

Though it seems in my experience with youths around my age (19+), it seems to be two polar opposites, one of which is near non-exclusive cultural conservatism, the other end of the spectrum isn’t all too much better with a seemingly very anti cultural attitude where it seems to me as an individual that people in the attempt to fully integrate almost seem to despise and resent their cultural roots.

The first thing that new immigrants tend to do which seems almost to be like a pseudo defense mechanism is to huddle into tight non inclusive cultural groups, almost as if to isolate and create a tiny part of their beloved homes in their newly settled home. Though this is a very understandable response when being confronted by such a strange and new country and society to adapt with it also creates a massive disconnect with the views and behaviours of the country that you now reside in, which I personally think as an immigrant who has moved to a new nation, gotten their citizenship and have settled down with family and that whole package in general need to be aware of, as after all, you’re now a part of that country, you now provide to that society and make at least a decent effort to understand and communicate with the other cultures present in such nation, that is after all the meaning of being a true national to a country is it not?

Though in stark contrast to this you often get ones who simply drop and abandon every link to a sometimes awkward mismatch between cultures, and simply adopt the local culture wholesale, it’s that natural desire to fit in, to assimilate into the greater society as a whole which isn’t a bad thing, though can lead to a negative self-image, and in whole a negative image for the culture that one once came from. It seems that many new immigrants get trapped in a polarized position of being completely conservative or simply wishing to burn the past.

The trick is to stay centred in a way where you as an individual can decide what fits you and what does not, a great place to start is how you were raised, the morals you were given and whether they signify you as a person or not, taking this in and progressing piece by piece to identify what is truly you slowly builds up the fine balance, the things that one quite often feels as though they cannot live without are usually derived from their homelands culture, keeping that in mind after coming to grips with one’s core fundamental beliefs and morality, that in a sense is the individual and more often than not, those core beliefs are that are derived from ones home culture, that is, in the opinion of this writer, I see myself as an Bengali Australian due to my ethics in learning, striving to perform and being loyal to family and loved ones, being humble to guests and being the best host I can, these to me are the bengali traits that define me as a bengali.

The next step was to talk and feel the way the people of ones new nation communicate and feel, to add on and make up with the good things of a new culture, and perhaps even mend personal lackings. This way one can truly share their positives with others and feel a sense of belonging, that way many others can understand what kind of individual one is, regardless of ones home or ethnic mother nation.

All too often we find people in one extreme or the other and not being able to quite find that nice balance and blend between the two extremes, it’s also the lack of balance that leads to complete loss of ethnic identity as well as other cases of extremist and zealous extremism. It is quite often shown in studies that not only when bengalis migrate to new countries, that many people who migrate from asia and in particular the middle east show even more heightened tendencies of representation of devout following of faith, more than they would have done so back within their home countries, this in a sense for many immigrants becomes a shell to wrap themselves with when it seems society as a whole is far too alien and too foreboding a place.

With such a group mentality the ability of any new migrant to fully realise their individual self seems a challenge too great and too intimidating, but in the end from what we see from societies portrayal of ethnic, religious and cultural non-exclusive grouping perhaps it would be wiser a decision to be more individually inclusive or perhaps be a part of more culturally diverse groups so as to taste a bit of culture from every ethnic group of this beautiful nation.

Though not everyone falls into the utter extreme poles of complete identity loss or extremist fundamentalist thinking when confronted with such a big event such as migration, for many that sweet middle spot always seems to be in sight but not quite in reach. It seems that most immigrants feel as though they must be fully submerged in one world or another, where in reality simply being the best of both worlds is a lot more self-fulfilling.

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