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Cultures Galore

Posted by on January 13, 2014

For the past week, I’ve been working on a side project. I was about twenty chapters into the sequel to Secrets Kept, and then my drive dried up. You see, there are two new characters we will meet and I just wasn’t happy with how they were being introduced. So I delved into their backstory a bit. There is quite the difference between knowing a character’s life story and experiencing it as it unfolds. Which lead me to where I am today. Quite possibly a new short story for you all to sink your teeth into. Oh my goodness! This little gem has taken on a life of its own, and has me researching kilts, bagpipes, and martial arts. How’s that for a teaser?

That said. I am amazed at all the different cultures all over the world. I have a deep desire to not just travel, but to live abroad. To experience life outside of my little bubble. The culture here in the US feels lacking to me in comparison. I’ve had the privilege of traveling to Peru twice. LOVED it. And had a chance to witness the Peruvian dances in person, something that these people learn as kids. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet people from Ireland, Czech Republic, France, Belgium, Lithuania, Mexico, Ecuador, Germany, China, and Africa, just to name a few. 🙂 The colors, the costumes, the music, dances, etc. Beautiful! Not to mention the history, the jewelry, the architecture, the landscape…sigh.

Picture courtesy of WANA commons contributor: Amber West

Don’t get me wrong, there are pockets of cultural celebrations here. I grew up with the Oktoberfests and my grandparents dancing the polka, decked out in costume, but those memories are hazy now and somehow that tiny bit of culture faded from my generation. I don’t think any of my aunts and uncles took up dancing polka or own a costume. I might have to remedy that for my children…which THAT is whole different story altogether with my hubby being from Zambia, Africa. 😉

The United States is sometimes referred to as the melting pot with people from all over the world migrating and bringing their cultures with them. Many times they would settle together and their communities would continue their traditions and cultural celebrations. Yet I wonder if that too is fading as we grow more apart, move farther away from each other. Or it could just be me. Having moved around a lot and now being transplanted in Texas with no family around, definitely changes the dynamics.

But I can’t overlook two important cultural aspects. The Native Americans and the African-Americans.

You will find Native Americans, or the First Nations as Richard Twiss liked to call them, holding pow-wows, their traditional dances, and music in attempt to preserve their culture despite earlier efforts to squash their culture and language.

And what of the African-Americans here? Stripped of everything they had ever known, rising from history’s scarred past, what kind of cultural celebrations do they have?

Not much of a melting pot, eh? Perhaps the United States is more like a giant salad with all of our cultural celebrations contributing to a medley of flavors. Who knows. This post has slightly derailed from my earlier intentions. Sharing with you my love of different cultures and my deep desire to experience them. I hope to weave the beauty of them throughout my stories.

But culture can also have a darker side. Customs and beliefs that can belittle, hurt, and destroy others. I’m not so naive to think its solely about costumes, music, and dancing, but what a better world it could be if that were the case. KIDDING, partially. Ha! The study of culture fascinates me, how it evolves over the years, how tradition can lose meaning or gain a new one, how it influences our thoughts and actions, and how it can be misunderstood.

So what say you? What kind of cultural celebrations have you celebrated as a kid, as an adult? If you’ve read the short stories or Secrets Kept, what cultures stood out to you? Were you able to find correlations between our world and the world of Nälu?

Hope y’all have a great week!

3 Responses to Cultures Galore

  1. sparksofember

    Culture is one of my favorite obsessions. It’s why I loved majoring in cross-cultural studies. It amazes me how God created this world and we have so many languages, cultures, variations, and yet, similarities. I’ve also thought the US is pretty cool in the way we get to experience so much of the world because we are from all over. We’ve adopted two Nepali college-students this year and it’s been fun introducing them to our traditions and the wide varieties of foods we eat (Italian, Mexican, German, etc.). And even more special, they’ve been sharing their culture and foods with us. Just spending time with them is amazing, even if all we’re doing is taking them to the grocery store or playing Uno together. 🙂

    My husband is from Wyoming and I’ve always thought how special it is that he grew up so close to his grandparents and cousins and the general store his great-great-grandfather founded, etc. He’s a lot closer to his American roots than my side of the family is with our roots from a hundred years ago.

    • J.L. Mbewe

      I would love to study that, plus study abroad. I totally forgot to mention about the similarities despite being worlds apart in a manner of speaking. That is great that you’ve adopted the college students. Such an awesome time of exchanging! A family friend of ours when I was a kid hosted exchange students. How cool would that be?

      I don’t know much about my ancestors. I do know that my great, great grandparents were born in Prussia, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, and Austria. And my grandma is from England. I would love to learn more. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

      • sparksofember

        I would love to host exchange students someday. It’s my hope that we can complete the partially finished bedrooms in our basement and then it will be possible.

        My father has done some genealogy research on our family. He hit a huge dead-end with his mystery grandfather but discovered his grandmother was a southern belle and that we are very distantly connected to the Kennedy’s by marriage. And that my great-uncle on my mother’s side was adopted after his family died of the Spanish flu. My grandfather didn’t even know that. 🙂

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J.L Mbewe - Author