How Does Culture Shape Our Identity: Essay

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I was born in Enugu, a small city in Nigeria, into a proud Nigerian family, which is something very few people know about me. Both of my parents come from the Igbo tribe, whose dominant language is Igbo. About three years after I was born, my father got a visa to immigrate to Canada, then my family moved there. My cultural background and geography led to me being raised under the influence of two cultures: Nigerian and Canadian. Both cultures' ideals and differences have shaped my identity. My viewpoint towards work and studying, holidays and funerals, as well as how I view friends and family are shaped by the strong influence of these two nationalities and cultures that I am proud to call my own.

My parents have encouraged me to become a determined, hardworking, and kind individual. My father referred to as ‘diokpala’ (the first son in his family), worked tirelessly to achieve the accomplishments he has today. He gave up a successful business for a better life for his children. Years ago, my parents taught me to never settle for the easier option and to always chase after what I want in life, a message I would never forget. They said, “Opportunity waits for no one, and if you see something, go and get it”. Furthermore, this lesson holds up in the Canadian environment I have been fortunate to grow up in. Due to the growing number of immigrant families in Canada, I share similar morals and motivations of determination and wanting to succeed. These morals and ideals shared across the nation reveal to me that I have to work twice as hard to reach my ideal destination.

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In addition, my heritage has several Nigerian and Canadian cultural traditions. For instance, my African father taught me the practice of Igo-ofo (a practice where you communicate with spirits and meditate saying things that you want to happen). The practice gives you the drive and great determination to improve in all aspects of life. I do not regularly practice, however, when I practice Igo-ofo, I do it for my behavior, outlook in life, relationship with loved ones, and work. This feature has shaped me and changed how I celebrate holidays and view deaths.

I celebrate several public holidays in Canada and also in Nigeria. Being in Nigeria for an unfortunate reason, my outlook on life has certainly shifted. Nigerian culture has opened my eyes and influenced my attitude towards people and how I celebrate holidays. My parents have constantly been trying to make me learn more about my Nigerian heritage, and embarrassingly, I did not learn much, not even how to speak my mother tongue. Every time I was too busy to take a moment to listen or uninterested, which I truly regret, however, coming to Nigeria has changed me. In Nigeria, many people don’t think of dying as a bad thing, rather they celebrate and recount all the good memories you've made with that person and cherish them. Funerals are seen as a celebration of the great life the person lived, not what they did not get to accomplish. On the other hand, Canadians view death as a sad and somber event where you mourn the person you have lost. Both cultures have different ways of dealing with grief, but they have affected me in some way, making me start valuing my friends and family.

In terms of relationships, I take my family and friends as a staple part of my life. At this point, both backgrounds have influenced my attitude towards people, namely my gratitude and commitment to them. In Nigeria, people greatly value family over anything else because of the belief that blood is thicker than water, and at the end of the day, no one supports and loves you like family. When I first arrived in Nigeria, I was greeted by cousins I had met before and the ones I never knew existed. In preparation for my visit, there was loud music and delicious food. I felt so loved and overjoyed at that moment, knowing they were happy to see me after all the years we had spent apart. In comparison, I find that people in North America put a lot of trust in friends and make every effort to be there for them. Regardless of whether I put family or friends on a pedestal, I strongly think that both of them have taught me that family and close friends are significant treasures.

Honestly, I love being in Canada and being surrounded by people with the most different and interesting cultural backgrounds. As a Nigerian Canadian, I am curious about different cultures, and I appreciate the cultural diversity around me. My friends are mainly from Canada, UK, and Africa. All of these cultures have fascinating ideas and teachings that I am curious about. Overall, I can conclude that the person I have become is mainly due to the two cultures’ influence on my life. I firmly believe that Nigerian culture has positively affected me in a significant way. However, it is true that the country you grew up in shapes your identity. Although I have not been home in a while, I try my best to maintain my roots and heartily believe that the mix of Nigerian and Canadian cultures has made a significant input in making me become a compassionate, determined, dedicated, and understanding person.

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How Does Culture Shape Our Identity: Essay. (2024, January 30). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“How Does Culture Shape Our Identity: Essay.” Edubirdie, 30 Jan. 2024,
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