What happens if you don’t really have a culture?
It struck me the other day, when I was in a dancehall workshop, that I could never teach something like it came from my ‘home country’, because I haven’t really got one.
My cultural influence is a potluck.
I’m a Sri Lankan that grew up in Dubai and lives in Australia. There are moments when I feel Sri Lankan, there are moments when I feel Australian and then there are times where I feel like I-don’t-know-where-I’m-from.
I don’t feel sufficinetly Sri Lankan enough to give anything more than tourist advice, my Sinhalese is halting and embarrasing. I don’t feel Australian enough to talk specifics. There are whole swatches of the map that are considered so old money that they’re practically invisible to me (although in Australia, a fledgling country, anything considered old is laughable).
And then, to add to it, because I was taught by American teachers in Dubai (All expats go to international schools) and lived in Washington D.C for a while, I often get mistaken for an American, mainly while I’m making small talk.
Apparently, my polite voice comes with an American twang.
So, if I was to teach anything based on my background, what would I teach? How to get along with any culture?
I felt most self-conscious about this when I was younger. Among the Sri Lankans, there was a depth of culture that just went over my head. With the Australians, I felt like the brown girl in the gang. Now I’m “meh” about it.
I’ve talked to others with similar backgrounds. Saudis in America, Fijians in Scotland. This potluck heritage feels like; wherever you are, you’re always watching it from the outside.
I guess I’m writing this because I’m curious if anyone else feels the same way. Do people who are born in the country they live in feel this way? Is this how all humans feel? Or is it an expat, traveller kind of deal?
And, if you do have a potluck kind of culture, what history do you draw on to define who you are?