Growing up with an Asian mother and a father of European decent, I experienced first-hand that interesting lifestyle of a multicultural family. From my diet to my traditions, I was raised with a diverse outlook which I saw as normal until I stepped foot in my friends’ houses.
Where is the Rice Cooker?
I was convinced that everyone had a rice cooker, that it was as common as a microwave or television, but that is not the case. It turns out that people don’t eat rice as often as I do (unless it’s the Uncle Ben’s Stovetop brand of so-called rice that everyone is eating) and no, not everyone knows how to cook it.
What’s for Dinner?
In my house, dinner is different every night and it ranges from European to Asian cuisine to what anyone else would eat! Do you eat a lot of fish? I hear Asians eat a lot of fish–I eat fish as much as any other person. Growing up in a multicultural household, I’ve never had to stick to one norm or even consider that there has to be a norm.
Half of the Picture is Missing
Even though my father is Ukrainian and French, I will never be recognized as that. What people see is my Filipino complexion and there you have it: I’m Asian nothing more. Growing up in a multicultural household meant identifying myself with one half–mainly the half others saw–and this wasn’t the doing of my parents, but rather my peers.
Speaking Different Languages
In a multicultural household, usually two or more languages are spoken, though in some circumstances that’s not the case. Some families, like my own, solely speak English. But trips to grandma’s house meant picking up on the basics of the Filipino language, Tagalog. I do wish that I was raised to be bilingual, because growing up with that skill is extremely beneficial and would be handy in the future.
The Awkward Moment when You Realize You Don’t Look like Your Family
Being a mixed-race child means that, most likely, you resemble either one parent or neither. Usually, you pick up on the dominant traits but, through my experience of meeting fellow mixed-race kids it’s somewhat odd when you don’t necessarily resemble either of your parents or even your siblings. When we were growing up, my mother was asked if she was my and my sibling’s nanny, because of how little we resembled her at first.
It gets even weirder when I go to gatherings of extended family–you stick out like a sore thumb. I’m the “Asian” cousin; with my clear Asian features it’s amusing to compare me to my Caucasian cousins who don’t resemble me in the slightest.
People Play The “Guess Your Ethnicity” Game
Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino, Russian, Ukrainian, Native Indian–what’s your background? Growing up in a multicultural household means you most likely get a lot of questions about where you’re from or what your background is. When you have the dark colouring of your mother, the lanky height of your father, and random features of your multiple backgrounds, it sparks interest in others to understand why you are so different. But I see that as a compliment, because being raised in a multicultural household has taught me that “different” is good, and the best part about being unique is that you are able to adapt and connect with others more easily. You understand that behind all the differences are the similarities that enable us to live happily together.