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Living Bicultural Essay

1718 words - 7 pages

2/1/14

What it means to be Bicultural
Moving to a new place, especially a new country can be life changing. Dinaw Mengestu and Jhumpa Lahiri are both authors that have shared their story on growing up within two different cultures and how they struggled with their culture identities. Lahiri is the author of “My Two Lives” that tells her story of being an Indian-American who felt torn between two totally different worlds. Her parents pushed her to be in touch with her Indian culture while the society of America pushed her to act more American. Mengestu is the author of “Home at Last” which tells his story of growing up bicultural as an Ethiopian-American and figuring out what he sought ...view middle of the document...

Lahiri felt pressured to be two different people; American to society and her friends, and Indian when she was at home. Even while this pressure to be both was prominent in her mind, American society seeped in and started to overtake her Indian culture. “I also entered a world my parents had little knowledge or control of: school, books, music, television, things that seeped in and became a fundamental aspect of who I am (Lahiri).” This quote demonstrates that the more she indulged in American culture the less connected she felt to her Indian culture. Although she wanted to branch into American culture, Lahiri still felt a part of two opposite worlds that wouldn’t connect, until as an adult she found that she can’t choose between the two. Indian-American Is what she is and she feels pride in that. Unlike Lahiri, Mengestu wasn’t torn between two cultures, but rather felt like he didn’t belong to any. Unaccepted for what he looked like by white people and neglected by his original culture. Mengestu had had enough. “By the time I arrived in Brooklyn I had little interest in where I actually landed. I had just graduated college and had had enough of the fights and arguments about not being black enough, as well as the earlier fights… that were fought for simply being black (Mengestu).” This quote from Home at Last shows that while growing up, Mengestu didn’t have a culture to belong to and just wanted to find a place he fit in. The difference of why Lahiri’s family kept the culture alive and Mengestu’s didn’t was because, Mengestu’s family was forced to move because of the revolution. Because he and his family had to leave Ethiopia against their will, they felt grief from losing people as well as not being able to connect with America. This grief stopped them from sharing their Ethiopian culture with Mengestu, causing him to feel disconnected from two different societies. He wasn’t able to speak the language to speak to other Ethiopians in the area and he was a different skin color which pushed him out of most of the American social groups. Although Lahiri and Mengestu both have two different cultures under their belt, Lahiri was able to associate herself with both of her cultures while Mengestu couldn’t assimilate with either. When he wasn’t able to fit into American culture because of his skin color, he didn’t have the option to fall back on his root culture and this fact led him to feeling like an outsider.
Lahiri and Mengestu found themselves doing whatever it takes to fit into the American culture, and this ultimately made them feel as if they were imposters. Being from India, a place far different from America Lahiri always felt that no matter what she did to fit into American society, there would always be something different about that would keep her from being viewed as American. “And yet there was evidence that I was not entirely American. In addition to my distinguishing looks, I did not attend Sunday school… and disappeared to India...

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