The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Cultivate your ethnic pride and let it show

Living in a country where it’s easy to find yourself assimilating with different cultures, I think it’s vital to be aware of one’s own ethnic background.

All the citizens of this country can say, proudly or not, that they are American. But with citizenship aside, the cultural roots of a vast majority of the people in this country originated from another part of this world.

Most of us identify ourselves as Americans. But what about the other part of ourselves? What about the other part that contributes to our unique sounding names, or the traditions we have during the holiday season?

As important as it is to have national pride for the country you live in, it is just as, or possibly more, important to have pride in your ethnicity. It is inherent to the growth of your culture to be aware of the history of where your parents, grandparents and ancestors came from.

The particular pride I speak of does not come with eating a popular dish from your culture, or attending a family function because your parents would be disappointed if you didn’t. The pride comes from within you. The very part of your being that is connected to your cultural roots.

My pride for the Armenian culture has been rooted so deeply in my character that it’s hard for someone not to be aware of it.

Fostering ethnic pride and connecting with your culture is much more complex than it comes off. Within my own culture a particular question arises frequently: Just how ‘Armenian’ are you? This question has seemed to plague me over the majority of my life.

I am part of a very small, yet dense, Armenian community in Los Angeles that has seemed to get lost in the American culture and has drifted away from its roots. I grew up attending a private Armenian school from the age of five until I was 17. During my 13 years at the school I was immersed in learning about Armenian history, religion and language.

One would think that anyone who attended a school with people from their own ethnic background and was taught the history of their ancestors would automatically be glowing with pride for his or her culture. Well that person couldn’t be more wrong.

All the history and language lessons can’t evoke pride for your culture if you don’t allow it to. In my case, it is correct to say that attending an Armenian school aided in the fostering of my own ethnic identity, but the same cannot be said for many Armenian private school bred children and those who grew up in the community.

I allowed the messages my Armenian teachers were trying to send sink deep and stay with me over the years. I took them and created my own definition of what it means to be an Armenian.

I know many people who think being ‘Armenian’ means only socializing with fellow Armenians, driving the most expensive cars and wearing certain brands of clothing, and being involved in any charitable causes is deemed an invaluable use of one’s time.

The truth is being proud of your ethnicity and culture does not come with the specific people you associate yourself with. The determining factor to the question of just how ‘Armenian’ I am should not depend on the type of men I date, or any other superficial agent. It should come from me.

I choose to practice certain Armenian traditions, speak the language, educate others on our history and give back to the community as much and often as I can because it allows me to strengthen my bond with my culture.

It’s not enough to just say you’re Armenian because you celebrate Christmas on Jan. 6 or because all your friends are Armenian as well. You must make a valiant effort to show your pride and contribute to your community. The act of cultivating the pride you have for your ethnicity and culture should be based on the actions you take to keep it alive.

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