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Continued from Part 1…
Just like the characters in the film, many Singaporeans use two or three languages in our daily lives. We may speak English at work, and use a mixture of English and Mandarin or Malay with our friends. With our family members, we may switch between languages and dialects without even being conscious of it.
Hence, our answer to the question “Where do you come from?” is often not a straightforward one. Do we say our nationality? Our country of birth? Our race? For example, I am ethnically Chinese and born and raised in Singapore. I celebrate Chinese festivals such as Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival, but I don’t feel any sense of belonging to the country where my great-grandparents came from. English poetry is just as relatable to me as Chinese idioms, and Southeast Asian flavours are more comforting to me than many Chinese dishes.
For individuals with mixed parentage, the situation is even more complex. In my friend’s experience, she sometimes found it hard to reconcile the differences between two cultures. Often, she felt like she didn’t really belong anywhere. But I think that her source of discomfort can also be a reservoir of strength and resilience. Surely, the more diverse the cultures we can draw from, the more perspectives we can enjoy — and that also teaches us to be more accepting of difference and nuance. (Tan Ying Zhen)
This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.