Meet Timothy

“I was born and raised in Lethbridge, Alberta. So there was an even smaller Chinese community. I think there’s sort of two sets of very different cultural values. You have one set at home, at church, and then you have a completely different set in school.

I think with a more Chinese upbringing, there’s the idea that if there is a teacher or a person of authority, you’re just supposed to listen. “The teacher’s always right” sort of mentality. You don’t question how they arrived at an answer, whereas a Western cultural mindset is saying there’s no such thing as a stupid question. So you’re encouraged to ask questions. But when you try to bring that practice home, parents might get the notion of “Are you questioning my authority?” When no, I’m just wondering where you’re coming from or why you said that.

It’s a matter of realizing situations like this are quite binary, so you have to choose one or the other. And I think for me, I am more comfortable operating in a more Canadian Western mindset. I even made the conscious choice shortly after graduation, to change churches to a more multicultural and Western church. So I started to think it’s like a spectrum. That helped me navigate in terms of the cultural landscape by asking myself, “Where do I fall in that spectrum?”

As I’m getting older, figuring out this whole cultural thing has been a process of self-discovery. It was a notion I used to have that grown-ups have it all figured out — career, direction, life choices. But they don’t. Everyone’s doing their best or hopefully moving along as best they can. It’s that whole concept of exploration and self discovery. Of course for some people, they seem to be pretty set on certain things, and that’s good for them. But everyone has their own pace. Everyone grows and learns in their own way.

So be proud. Do whatever feels natural. Nobody has it all figured out. I guess that’s just life in general. For culture, there’s no perfect sort of resolution in terms of feeling comfortable. There will always be situations in life, whether you’re with your coworkers or friends or significant other, that will challenge those notions. And that’s okay.

在一个较中国化的家庭中长大,我体会到长幼有序是毋庸置疑的。我们要顺从老师或长辈,不能对他们提出质疑。例如在学校 ,“老师永远是对的”。即使你只是好奇地发问,在华人家庭便会被责备为目无尊长。相反西方文化没有辈分的概念,会鼓励发问。到我长大之后,我觉得我更适应加拿大西方的思维方式。与其认为只有中西两极化的选择,我反而觉得文化是有不同程度的深浅,可以在两端中间游走。

了解自己的文化取向会帮助自身的文化定位。长大的过程使我领略到文化认同是一个自我发现和探索的过程。小时候,总觉得成年人好像在工作或生活上都安排好了 ,而事实上大家都在尽己所能。有一部份人已经知道自己的目标,但是每个人都有不同的节奏和进度,以自己的方式来成长就可以了。” —Timothy

Images provided by Timothy.

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