Continuing Education + Job Training // Publishing since 1999
Resources

Old Culture vs New Culture: A Newcomer’s Perspective

By ADMIN - April 17 2019

By Judeen Meikle

The experience of  a new culture is oftentimes eye opening and the shock that comes with it can sometimes leave us in awe. It can also be very effective in opening your eyes as to the alternatives that exist in comparison  to the way we practice our own culture back in our old country. Effectively, we get absorbed in adapting the new culture, some of it is forced (like purchasing bag milk and a milk jug because that’s the norm and it’s also cheaper) and some of it we gladly accept (like the ability to use public transportation system for everyone with no separation as it relates to class, in some countries buses and trains are for lower class). I, for example, coming from a tropical country had to now get used to the fact that a bright and sunny day in Toronto, probably means it’s super cold out and that means layered sweaters and frosty breath as opposed to deciding it’s a beach day.

The decision to move from your home country is often based on a variety of reasons, some of which are more drastic than others . Some of us leave to pursue a higher education. Some will leave to join family who have already migrated. Some will leave for the possibility of  greater financial security. Some will leave in the hopes of a better life for them and their young ones. For the many reasons it’s probably safe to say that most have come here to create a better life for themselves and their children whether they were forced to leave their original country or not. We all decided to leave our own culture to experience that of a new country. 

Since coming here one thing I’ve noticed is that as immigrants we sometimes get so caught up in our new existence that we start bashing the ” inadequacies” of our old culture. Culture,  my friends (another adaption to my new culture) is the way in which life is lived in a certain country. It is a culmination of ancestral, religious, social beliefs orchestrated to create the ‘way’ of life in a defined area. This all together will form the way in which societies operate. Now,  we would all agree that not all societies are perfect and we would all agree that we will not always find the approach within our culture to be appropriate or necessary at times. But really more times than not it’s not affecting anyone negatively and just contributes to be the unique way of life in that space.

With that being said, I find it disheartening when immigrants or returning residents look down on  their old culture way of life.  Being Jamaican I am particularly offended when people from my own country act this way.  Growing up in Jamaica , is certainly a contrast to  what we now experience here in Canada. It’s the lifestyle that we grew up with and the exposure to other cultures/way of life does not by any means suggest that our culture is inadequate or inappropriate. Our new societal practices that we now openly enjoy and have adapted to  and have found that it blends perfectly with our way of  thinking, still does not make the old way of life wrong. We need to be open minded enough to agree that Jamaica has some practices,  however messed up we may think they are, these are the same practices that moulded us into the fabulous humans that we are, I believe this can be said for most countries around the world. We are the product of our society, why are we looking down on our own culture. I came by this thought after a very active conversation concerning the need for Jamaican students to wear uniforms hence suppressing the ability to express themselves through their dress. My counter argument suggested that the contextual attributes of the society leads to uniforms being the better decision. Jamaica as we know is a developing country, that is also an island and therefore must import a lot of products. It means that the accessibility to clothing across the social classes is not as equal as it is here in Canada. Now that is just one of the arguments that I used, many more exist. But the point is we have to be careful to not contextualise our practices before inferring that it has lost its relevance. Everywhere around the world people practice their daily lives differently and does not makes them less of a person. 

One of the most fun ways to enjoy life is to travel, which exposes us to the diversity of culture. It educates us on the difference in practices in different regions, which is quite fascinating. However,  each culture will have limiting factors, factors that will make the way of life less appealing to an outsider looking in. This brings about uniqueness .So many factors exist, it is just not possible to inculcate all of them into one place, creating the variety that we see today. One of the really good things about Canada, having so many immigrants is that it becomes as well the melting pot of different cultures. Everyone shares a slice of their home with us. For instance, on any given day you are able to enjoy a meal from a restaurant that represents the diversity of people that live here and where they came from.

So, let us embrace our new culture but also accept the old. The old may no longer work for us but it continues to work for the persons that exist within it. Let’s slow our roll on trying to kill the culture, kill the practices as it is what makes them unique.  We could start by not complaining and just be grateful that we were exposed to a way of life that we longed for and were able to leave that which no longer worked for us. I am Jamaican and will always be proud to be Jamaican. I am however grateful for the new exposure and the ability to live and raise my child in this society that reflects a lot of the morals and values that I support. This doesn’t negate the fact that I am saddened by some of the practices that she will miss growing up in Jamaica. It was those practices that helped to shape me into the person I am and I am proud of that. It will be my job to teach her these traditions from my past while showing her how we will live in our new country.  Let’s view our people with class and dignity as we represent our  country around the world.  Looking at how many of us have become successful citizens all over the world shows me our country of origin did something right.

We value your opinion. Please let us know what you think about this column. Send comments to learningcurves@hotmail.com.


Viewpoint
Learning Curves

Who would you like to refer to?

By OSMAN OZSOY -
June 24 2024

At the start of the academic year, Professor Osman Ozsoy emphasized the importance of reputation to his students, highlighting how easily a positive perception can be tarnished by repeated tardiness. In a candid classroom exchange, he illustrated that trust and punctuality are crucial for professional recommendations, teaching a vital lesson about maintaining one's reputation.

Read more...

Teacher’s Voice
Learning Curves

What Troy Van Learned from His Mother’s Legacy

By MINA WONG -
June 20 2024

Troy Van always had questions about his mother’s past, partly because of Delia’s reticence about it. When she passed away two years ago, new details about her emerged from different sources that totally surprised Troy. A history teacher, he’d built his success on honesty and credibility. In the end, if contradictions in Delia’s life taught Troy a lot about himself, he also learned to accept her choices for survival in a turbulent world.

Read more...

Narratives
Learning Curves

Life as we don’t know it

By SAMANVITHA ORUGANTI -
June 12 2024

In "Life as We Don't Know It," a renowned National Geographic photographer passes on her passion and legacy to her grandchild through the gift of a camera. This touching tale explores the transformative power of photography, offering a new perspective on the world and revealing the extraordinary within the ordinary. Join this heartfelt journey of discovery and creativity, where capturing moments becomes a magical superpower.

Read more...

Digital Citizen Corner
Learning Curves

Navigating the Digital Minefield: Protecting Your Privacy in a Connected World

By BRYAN SENFUMA -
June 4 2024

In our digitally driven world, technology is deeply intertwined with our daily lives, presenting constant threats to our privacy. From the devices we depend on to the public spaces we traverse, the digital landscape poses significant challenges to our personal information security. 

Read more...