It’s safe to say that these past few months have been nothing short of eventful. We’ve all been experiencing a great deal of changes and challenges but also been acquainted to a fair share of opportunities. As turbulent as 2020 may have been, it really did allow room for growth... or at least that’s what I keep telling myself!
Our current situation really did stir up many questions. One of them being; what could possibly be as disruptive as a global pandemic? Try juggling two cultures in a foreign country!
Being a first-generation immigrant carries a great number of obstacles and hardships. I can wholeheartedly attest to that. The whole ordeal of acculturation itself is often underrated.
Wikipedia describes the term Acculturation as a “process of social, psychological, and cultural change that stems from the balancing of two cultures while adapting to the prevailing culture of the society. Acculturation is a process in which an individual adopts, acquires and adjusts to a new cultural environment”. Talk about some disruption huh?
Depending on what two cultures a child of immigration may have to balance out, it can certainly be quite the culture shock. Take me for example – born Muslim in Casablanca, Morocco. A north African beauty of a country where the weather is as hot as the blood that flows through (most of) its people. Age 5, my parents decide to move to Montreal, Canada. A north American western city with no beaches but free healthcare and some of the politest humans you’ll ever meet. Mind you, we were already fluent in French so at least we had the local language down, but everything else was very foreign to us. From the weather, to the food and especially the school system. It was a complete social reset for the whole family.
Now, now. As Jeffrey Benjamin once spoke, ever so eloquently: In every challenge, lives a greater opportunity. Growing up as a first-generation immigrant surely is no exception to that very quote.
Being immersed in a new and foreign cultural environment while carrying the baggage of different heritage and traditions, really makes for a rich combination of knowledge and culture. It’s quite beautiful when you think about it. Children of immigration get to build a plethora of skillsets that will follow them throughout their whole lives. Nothing like being confronted with challenges head on to be forced into growth. My adaptability skills were at the forefront of skillsets I was able to develop thanks to my background and experience. Changing continents will most definitely do that to you.
I was initially accustomed to Moroccan and Islamic traditions but suddenly had to adjust and adapt to a more Americanized way of life and a whole bunch of new traditions. Seriously, I had no idea who Santa Claus for the first 5 years of my life.
Ultimately, my experience growing up as a first-generation immigrant has truly shaped me into the person I have now become. One who can take on a global pandemic like a champ!