How I Keep In Touch With My Cultural Roots

Your roots are important. They make up who you are, they influence your everyday actions, and they stick with you forever. Sometimes, it is hard to truly appreciate where we come from due to constant distractions and obligations that we have, such as work, family, friends and other extracurriculars. It is especially harder to keep in touch with your roots when you live somewhere other than your country of origin. Personally, I consider myself Iranian American. I am the first of my family to be born and essentially raised in California, yet I am very in touch with my Iranian roots.

Both of my parents were born and raised in Iran, and the same applies to my grandparents, my great grandparents and so on. I was born in California, and we moved around a lot when I was younger, but I did live in Iran for a short period of time. To be honest, it was difficult growing up in an Americanized environment with Iranian parents who are typically old fashioned and extremely strict. Looking back at my childhood now, I do not regret my upbringing one bit because I am considered lucky to have been raised in an environment where American cultures and traditions were important to me, as well as Iranian ones. My Iranian upbringing has shaped me into the person I am today, and it was all because I made a promise to myself to not forget where I came from.

Without my Iranian background, I would have never learned how to properly appreciate the different cultures around me, as well as the importance of diversity. The strictness of my household (that I once absolutely hated) has taught me to take responsibility for my actions, be efficient in everything I do and most importantly, prioritize family over anything else; I just didn't see such benefits when I was younger. Now, my parents have adapted to Western tradition the same way that I have accepted my roots, and I am happy to say that my household is a perfect blend of both of my cultures.

There are many different ways in which I remain involved with my cultural background. I always try to speak Farsi when I can. I speak it my parents as much as possible, as well as friends at UCLA who also speak the language. An automatic bond can be made between people who share fluency in the same language, while simultaneously making someone feel unique. Another way I keep in touch with my Iranian side is through my social interactions with the people I meet everyday. Even though diversity is very important to me, I still have Persian friends on campus. In my opinion, it is a different type of friendship because there is this unspeakable and automatic bond between me and my Persian friends. I assume the same applies to people who become friends with people of the same nationality. It is easier to relate to them, and there is a common ground found during first impressions. Whenever I am home, I like to keep up the diet of a typical Persian, which constitutes of mainly stews, rice and kabobs, and I remain connected to my extended family in Iran by FaceTiming and texting them as much as possible, even though at times it can get difficult due to the 12.5 hour time difference.

If you feel like you aren’t that connected with your background, it is easy to join organizations on campus that reflect the same culture and value you share. Get involved, make new friends and keep up traditions. It may seem like my methods to remain intact with my roots are very simple and typical, but they do truly help me appreciate my culture.