As I sit here at my desk, a black mug once filled with a roasted brown rice drink that was imported from Japan, a set of CD’s sit to my left, which are intended to be used for learning the Japanese language; I can’t help but appreciate my development having been greatly influenced by the beauty and pizzazz of other cultures. I realize more and more as I dive into learning about other parts of the world that I am one of the luckiest women alive to be aware of such gorgeous countries. These countries are filled with such depth and potential and history, that in my lifetime I may merely scrape the metaphorical surface in hopes of taking some of the dirt home under my fingernails.
It’s not even just about the language, the food and the people–although, to me it would not be as enticing a culture without these things, it’s about the golden weaving around the edges. It’s where the sakura blossoms fall, the kimono’s dazzling colours dance through the moonlight and the Harujuku girls pose for countless pictures that may end-up in another book. It’s the type of culture that leaves me excited for more, and breathlessly aware of how enchanted I am by the mere thought of traveling to Asia, specifically.
With all of that said it also makes me wonder: how open is our culture, America; to another countries influence? Growing up for me had rich cultural influences, even though I never traveled far from home and certainly had never traveled overseas. I have reason to believe that I was one of the lucky ones, that despite having not been many places other than the surrounding areas (I live in Washington state), that I’m able to profoundly appreciate what another culture has to offer, as if it were my birthing place. There have been times where I have been so moved by the intrinsic beauty of Asia that I can’t help but feel emotionally overwhelmed. I know that when I speak Japanese, the accent and the words come to me fluidly as if I had once learned and forgotten these words. I know that when I wrap a kimono around my body and hug it close that it’s not just the glinting fabric that surrounds me, but an entire bounty of spirit and diversity. Which brings me to yet another question: am I supposed to live in the USA, the land that I was born in? Obviously if I was born and raised here then I was intended to be here, although I can’t help but wonder about my love affair with Asia. It’s a haunting thought to be honest, to think that perhaps I was only just born here. It’s a thought that’s not fully formed, a path that’s not fully cleared of brush–but I’ll figure it out.
Back to the first question: how culturally open are we, as a country and also as individuals? Like I said earlier I have reason to believe maybe we’re not as open to other influences as it’s presented as us being. What are some ways we could do better and make better connections with other cultures, while still fostering a sense of independence and fruitfulness as our own, separate country.