January 24, 2001
Rootless, but worldly
no" by Babak Nikain, Why such despair? I have met and known many
people who have lived between cultures. Mainly, they have either been the
children of immigrants or the children of families whose livelihood took
them across the globe (be it business, government, etc.) Hands down, I
think they are richer human beings because of it - in spite of being rootless.
Rarely have I met one of these "tweeners" or "global nomads"
who wasn't extremely sophisticated, kind, open-minded, sincere, inteligent
and, of course, worldly.
Being able to navigate and communicate between cultures is a good thing
- the world needs more of this. There is no such thing as a "perfect"
country or culture; each has its blessings and flaws, and it is these people
who, more often than not, combine the blessings. It is because of my experiences
with these people that I learned 7 languages (none of them fluently, however)
- including Farsi (and Swedish).
While these young people you speak of may seem to rebel against or shed
their Iranian heritage, I can guarantee you that, as they get older, the
overwhelming majority will hold on to those aspects of their heritage that
are dear to them - even after a generation or two.
Case in point: I grew up on my mother's side of the family. (My grandparents
immigrated from Naples, Italy to New York City.) I don't speak Italian
or feel any attachment to a city I've never been to. I'm a lousy Catholic,
and couldn't tell you why we eat 7 types of fish on Christmas Eve. However,
growing up I saw the value and beauty in a family which was extremely tight-knit,
affectionate, expressive, loyal, strong-headed, passionate and, compared
to American standards, very large. (Instead of the extended family household,
it was more like the extended family neighborhood!)
There is a lot about "American" culture that I love, but after
growing up in a very Italian household, I have also learned that there
are elements of my Italian heritage that I will never give up.