Op-Ed: My Multicultural Identity and Experiences
By: Maria Gonzalez
As a multiracial kid in the 21st century, my childhood consisted of experiences that I found to be normal, but were actually completely unique. I’m half Spanish and half Kazakh, which typically comes as a surprise to people who don’t know me personally. Reactions can range from, “where is Kazakhstan?” to, “I just visited Spain last summer!”Although these comments are largely variable, my response always seems to involve pride. I am proud to represent both Spain and Kazakhstan and try to honor both of my parents’ countries. I eat both of their national foods, speak Spanish and Russian, and have visited Spain and Kazakhstan in the past. It’s amazing to be able to experience it all, with one drawback: the fear of losing my identity. Living in the US, I don’t know anyone of Spanish or Kazakh descent other than my own family and don’t have the same connections my parents do. I fear that I might forget certain holidays or how to fluently speak Spanish and Russian as an adult. But, most of all, I fear that I might not be able to provide the same multiracial upbringing to my kids that my parents gave me. However, rather than working myself up over these thoughts, I try to use the fears to propel and motivate me to address them. I learn about and immerse myself in my cultures as much as possible so that I can continue to pass that knowledge down. Although I know I cannot provide the exact upbringing I experienced, I’ve come to realize that the discrepancies will actually be advantageous. Multicultural kids all have authentic experiences unique to themselves that shouldn’t be forcefully replicated, despite the similarities. Life is what we make it to be, including embracing and constantly discovering more about ourselves. One of the most important lessons I resonate with is, multicultural or not, finding your own niche and individuality opens up a wide range of possibilities to pursue passions and truly be happy.