Culture is something that everyone is a part of. An individual’s identity is based around their culture. Nobody can escape it. Our whole lives are built upon the places we live and travel to and the people we meet on our journeys. I truly believe that everyone’s identity changes daily based on their choices and other people’s choices. An example can be read in the novel Enrique’s Journey. “Enrique glances into a store window and sees his reflection. It is the first time he has looked at his face since he was beaten. He recoils from what he sees. Scars and bruises. Black and blue. One eyelid dropped” (Nazario 100). Enrique chose to make the journey to find his mother. He wanted to be with her and he wanted a family due to all the chaos his life consisted of in Honduras. Enrique had to face the consequences of his choice. In other words, his choices became his identity. Because he traveled through areas like “The Beast” in Mexico to reach his mother he had to face the gang violence and migrant workers in the area. However, if Enrique would have chosen to stay his identity or culture would not have been the same. The same concept goes for every individual. An example relating to me, and probably everyone else, in today’s society is safety in different cultures. Homosexuals have to hide and be silent to fit into society. Because they are different than the majority they automatically have enemies. Safety depends on where they live. For example, Uganda is in the process of passing a bill to execute homosexuals and imprison all those who support them. People who choose to stay there embrace a whole new culture; one that would be significantly worse of a struggle. The people who leave will have to embrace a whole new culture while trying to preserve theirs which is another example of how the choices of a few are forcing people into all different cultures or identities. Examples of this are found throughout all the pages of history.
Historical occurrences such as Apartheid in South Africa show how the passion and perseverance of one man can save a nation of people from falling to pieces. Nelson Mandela united a divided country and affected the culture of the area by doing so. A lot of individuals in history greatly affect the culture of even our societies today in positive ways. Alexander the Great, George Washington, John F. Kennedy, and Harvey Milk all still have impact on the way we live our life or our identity. However, you do not have to achieve anything majorly influential to affect the individual’s identities around you. Everybody still has influence over everybody else’s culture. A driver that chooses to drive under the influence of alcohol could seriously alter a person’s physical identity while, if bad enough, could change a person’s emotional or mental identity as well. A person’s choices that they make about themselves as they meet different cultures will ultimately affect their life. Another example could be, an individual going to class or them deciding not to. Eventually choices add up and cause major changes in a person’s life and those around them thus shaping their identity. The more culture you experience the more multicultural you become.
Traveling to different places and experiencing the wide myriad of cultures in the world will shape the individual’s culture thus altering their identity. Visiting different places will allow an individual to meet many people with separate cultures who have whole different identities than that of your own. Your identity will change however so slightly with every single one. Change is the most important factor when it comes to identity.
In conclusion, a person’s identity is extremely affected by multicultural awareness and traveling. If an individual does not experience other cultures they will never truly have the ability to change their identity. They would not even understand the other cultures that exist. Being ignorant by not trying to understand the identities of those around will only lead to more problems in an increasing modernizing world.
Sonia Nazario, Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His
Mother. New York: Random House, 2006.
Mother. New York: Random House, 2006.