MY MONOCULTURAL ORIGINS
By Margaret Michalik
I spent most of my life in a monocultural society in my native country,
Poland. Now I’m living in a totally diverse place which is the United States.
I find the life here kind of interesting, and I’m wondering every day how
so may different people originating from different nations. Cultures, and
religions can co-exist.
- I like this country with all these contrasts and multiculturality. It is
a miracle to me to observe these people, representing completely different
ways of life, find a common denominator and live in symbiosis. It is interesting
for me to see how these different cultures, beliefs, and histories, are
mixing and penetrating, and in effect creating a new nation of Americans.
Some of them live in communities trying to keep a part of their identity,
speaking a native language, cultivating national traditions and trying
to instill these into their children. Some others rapidly adopt a new environment
and separate from their nationality and become a part of the multicultural
I still feel life an observer, and I’m trying to find my place in this
composite society. Sometimes I feel lost in this big melting pot where
the whole world is whirling. Living in my monocultural society, I felt
a part of it. I belonged to my country’s history and religion. I had a
specified place and I felt a strong affiliation to my nationality. Everything
that was happening around me was a part of my life and more or less important
to me. I took part in the entire life with all of its aspects.
I think in a society like the American, a person can easily feel lost without
one’s own place and own identity. In this multicultural world where so
many cultures co-exist, it isn’t difficult to lose a sense of affiliation
to some specified nation. I think it is a common problem to become alone
in this anonymous mob of different people and that creates a state of insensibility
for others. The lack of linguistic, cultural or religious commonality causes
a lack of interest for another person, and in effect, causes withdrawal
into very narrow groups and communities.
I believe this is the biggest risk of living in a multicultural society—it’s
very hard to keep a specific identity. Meeting different ways of life every
day causes a universal way of living, without defined order or perspectives.
What in a monocultural society is clearly specified—traditions, education
or religious orientation, in a multicultural society is unknown.
On the other hand, a society like America’s creates many opportunities
for people from different countries. First of all, it teaches them tolerance,
which is necessary to co-exist in so differentiated an environment. It
also teaches them respect fro other cultures, religions and customs. Coming
to the United States forces people to get to know other ways of living
and sharing the same country with totally different people.
I see in both societies some advantages and disadvantages. I’m sure one’s
attitude toward American multiculturality depends on age and personality.
It’s easier for an adult to maintain a firm identity. In children, it’s
very difficult. They have to establish their own identity with the help
of parents and the environment.
Write one or two questions about this essay which can be answered yes or
Underline one or two places where you agree with the writer.
In your own words, write one sentence summarizing the writer’s main idea.
Try to think of an example of someone you know who has separated from his
or her home cultural identity and become part of the "multicultural mix".