“Language is fundamental to cultural identity.”
Kakadu National Park, Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre, NT
I remembered waiting in a queue at our local post office, and I could not help but listen to the conversation of an elderly couple standing behind me. They were talking in “hokkien” (dialect) and I could straight away distinguish the hokkien spoking people were from Penang – my home town.
After considering that for a few seconds, I could not contain my excitement and decided to turn around. I asked them whether they were from Penang etc., and sure enough they were, and we struck up a conversation in our own mother tongue.
I felt “joyful”, in a sense, becasue I’ve met someone from my own home town just standing next to me here in Sydney, and I was able to converse in a language that I was so familiar with.
There was another example when I was purchasing school uniforms for my children when they started their new primary school; it was wonderful to be greeted by one of the volunteering mums, who was also from my home town. It was straight down to speaking in our mother tongue. The joy, the ease, the familiarity and the relaxed way we managed to converse in our mother tongue…
One of our members shared with me recently her story. She started a new life in a foreign country, was there for more than 30 years, learned a new language, and changed her life style to assimilate to the new customs, traditions and culture etc. Recently she managed to meet up with someone in the foreign land also in the same ‘boat’, and it just happened that she lives not too far from her… They connected through the language that was familiar to them and that resonates to their roots. It offers comfort of knowing that you are not alone, and you have a place where you belonged.
Have you ever experienced that?
Have you ever met someone and realised that both of you come from the same country and or even the same home town? Do you feel an instant connection to your roots?
Have you recently made a trip back to your birth country and reminisced about the familiarity and the connections to your birth country?
The familiarity of the aroma of the food, the language, the values, the people, the clothing, the streets, and the buildings that blend with the surroundings, all bring so many memories.
I remember most times when I step foot in either Singapore or Malaysia, even though I do not miss the humidity, I sure miss the atmosphere, i.e. the language and how we can easily assimilate and express ourselves easily with our mother tongue.
It does not matter where you are in the world, it is always important to reconnect to your roots, i.e. your inner child, with something that you are familiar with, i.e. food that you grew up with, the language of your mother tongue, your heritage, your culture, your traditions etc.
For many families, migrating to a new country definitely opens up to a new way of life, learning and incorporating new culture into their lives, adopting new lifestyle and habits. However, deep down, they always feel that there is something missing…
What actually is missing?
So whereever you are in the world, open up to meeting new people, and learn new values, but always be open to reconnecting to your roots… reconnect to who you actually are – through The “language” you understand!
Our languages are a part of us!