Cultural Identities

“Men and women are not only themselves; they are also the region in which they were

born, the city apartment or the farm in which they learnt to walk, the games they

played as children, the tales they overheard, the food they ate, the schools they at-

tended, the sports they followed, the poets they read and the God they believed in”

(W. Somerset Maugham. The Razor’s Edge)

I found this quote on the Internet and it made me think about cultures and especially cultural identities. Today I would like to talk about Spain and the UK.

Living in Canterbury made me think about my hometown and about the way we tend to be and people try to define us. In Spain, we hug and kiss people very often, even if we do not have a close relationship with them. Spanish meals are later than British ones and yes, we tend to go to bed very late at night…Some people take a nap or ‘siesta’ after lunch (ideally 30 min!). People go to have a coffee before work and we sometimes talk very loudly.

Canterbury gave me the chance to meet people from different countries and national people at the same time. I can learn from their cultures and lifestyles without judging them. It is very important to show respect and not to assume things because we can offend another person.

I would like to share a poem with you. I learnt it at university a couple of years ago. I hope you enjoy it:

‘Half-caste’

John Agard

Excuse me
standing on one leg
I’m half-caste.

Explain yuself
wha yu mean
when yu say half-caste
yu mean when Picasso
mix red an green
is a half-caste canvas?
explain yuself
wha yu mean
when yu say half-caste
yu mean when light an shadow
mix in de sky
is a half-caste weather?
well in dat case
england weather
nearly always half-caste
in fact some o dem cloud
half-caste till dem overcast
so spiteful dem don’t want de sun pass
ah rass?
explain yuself
wha yu mean
when yu say half-caste
yu mean tchaikovsky
sit down at dah piano
an mix a black key
wid a white key
is a half-caste symphony?

Explain yuself
wha yu mean
Ah listening to yu wid de keen
half of mih ear
Ah looking at yu wid de keen
half of mih eye
an when I’m introduced to yu
I’m sure you’ll understand
why I offer yu half-a-hand
an when I sleep at night
I close half-a-eye
consequently when I dream
I dream half-a-dream
an when moon begin to glow
I half-caste human being
cast half-a-shadow
but yu must come back tomorrow
wid de whole of yu eye
an de whole of yu ear
an de whole of yu mind.

an I will tell yu
de other half
of my story.

 

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