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d.tech Students Embrace their Cultures

By Paulo Mangubat

I have always been intrigued by culture: How different civilizations grew, how they developed their different ways of life, how they are all different, yet are in some ways the same, as well. Inspired by the d.tech value of embracing the strength in our diversity, I set out to see some of the ways that d.tech students embrace their various cultures.

Birth of a New Religion

Tenshō Kōtai Jingū-kyō, also known as Odoru Shūkyō, or “dancing religion”,  was founded in the post-World War II period of Japan. Adherents of this religion endeavor to spiritually purify their hearts and minds in hopes of fulfilling their purpose to serve God and their fellow man. As a follower, junior, Stellan Shinozaki adheres to the teachings of Ogamisama, “the great god”. When asked about what he does to celebrate his faith, he says, “It’s not that we celebrate, but every Friday we pray at the dojo, we listen to Ogamisama’s sermons, we do tomomigaki (group introspection), and we finish with a prayer.” He does explain, however, that there is an event called Shurenkai, where all followers from across the world come together for 3 days at the main preaching hall, in either Japan or Hawaii.

Traditional Values in a Modern World

Considering herself a “Modern Hindu,” or as she defines it, “Someone who follows traditional Hindu values but stays open-minded”,  junior, Amy Natarajan, embraces her cultural heritage in a festival known as Holi. And no, that is not a typo. Also known as both the festival of love and colors, Holi is a traditional Hindu festival that celebrates the start of spring, in addition to the triumph of good over evil in Hindu folklore. Those who participate in the festival do so by throwing handfuls of a dazzling array of colored and perfumed powders known as gulal at each other. Today, Holi is celebrated in many countries, with many non-Hindus joining in the powdered gaiety.

Amy Natarajan enjoys time with family.

Keeping it Casual

A regular participant in the festivals taking place at their Greek church, sophomore, Georgina Fakoukaki strives to maintain her Greek mindset with the help from her parents. “I share my culture through food, music, and sharing stories from my past back in Greece,” she says. She says that keeping in touch with the energetic and happy Greek party culture is important: “Family reunions with everyone, not just immediate family. Breaking plates too, y’know, the crazy Greek stuff.”

Georgina Fakoukaki and family.

Why Have Just One?

“Why only have one culture, when you can experience many?” asks junior, Bibi Wong. Coming from a family tree of diverse ethnicities, with relatives from places such as Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, Bibi shares that, “Though I am technically Chinese, we incorporate many of these cultures in our daily lives; mostly through food.” To paint a better picture, she says, “My family makes Vietnamese spring rolls, Thai curry, and [Chinese] wontons,” just to name a few. In addition to the variety of foods she and her family enjoy, Bibi also partakes in a plethora of Asian festivities such as Chinese New Year, the Autumn Moon Festival, and the Songkran Festival (Thai New Years).

Bibi Wong’s nephew Joe, who is half-Samoan, quarter Chinese, and quarter Laotian, wearing a traditional Chinese New Years outfit.

I’m Just Being Me
Not everyone has to identify with and embrace a cultural identity fully, and that is the case with junior, Ella Rook. Despite having lived in Australia for 11 years, London for 1 year, and having dual citizenship in Australia and the Netherlands, she says that, “I don’t really feel like I identify with any culture strongly. I was raised with little bits of different cultures.” When asked to further elaborate on this, she expounded, “If I had to identify as anything, I would identify as being Australian, not that being Australian is a culture. I feel like my accomplishments and personality define me more than where I was born.”  She did says, however, that she enjoys Vegemite.

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