Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.
I have not been raised bilingually but have definitely been brought up in 2 countries – India and America.
I came to America after getting my bachelors degree at the age of 24.
I think that ‘brought up in’ a certain place has a scope until a certain age of up till 18. But I still believe that I was brought up in America too.
In India I always lived with my parents and had less freedom in terms of picking my clothes and making bold decisions.
Even at the age of 23, I was trying to understand relations and family and I had, by no means, discovered myself.
A new Culture
I came to US and it all changed soon. I started living with guys whom I did not know previously, who were from the same place as I was but not softies as my parents. I had come out of the shell for the first time and started getting exposed to brutality, sarcasm, ostracizing cut throat competition, etc.
Along with that came good things such as brotherhood The same guys who didn’t like me for a few aspects did appreciate a few qualities that I possessed.
I started getting to know myself more. I understood the things that people liked about me and the things that they didn’t.
I understood that there are a few things which people don’t do and I should myself stop doing them. I also started taking care of my interests more which previously used to be taken care of by my parents and friends. This came across a little too strongly on me because the American culture also is pretty rugged.
I was a bit of a simple guy who could very well pass off as simpleton. I didn’t think of my own interests, my self-respect, my own ideas, strengths and weaknesses. This was part of being in a bit of a culturally engulfing environment. But this new culture sure gave me a cultural shock. I took some time to adjust and faced problems.
Help from friends and family
The things that definitely helped me a lot at that time were ‘Professional help’ and support of loved ones. This has made me the persona that I changed to become into. I take my decisions in support of friends, help them whenever required and try to keep myself up so as not to come back in this situation in future.
In any event, being in two cultures can definitely be challenging but once accustomed, one learns a lot about life and oneself and becomes a much wiser person than they were.
Do read a few other bi-cultural experiences by the author of this blog and his parenting tips for bi-cultural kids.
For further reading about my personal experiences and articles that I write about, please visit Tech Cafe.