Thu, 3 July 2008
Hello from the Land of the Midnight Sun!
It's Rena in the wilds of Alaska. A big thank you to everyone who has shown us tremendous support during our debut month. We continue to be humbled and honored by the positivity that keeps coming our way!
I have some terrific news to share. I am a panelist at the upcoming Filipino-American National Historical Society Biennial National Conference taking place on July 3-5 here in Anchorage. Three things make this event even more sublime: I will be sharing the panel with my very own mom, Maria; I've returned to the land that raised me; and our presentation is scheduled on my birthday, July 3rd. In the presentation entitled, "Building a Culture of Harmony and Peace Within a Filipino-American Family," we will be discussing the joys and the challenges of reconciling two cultures in one household.
When my mom and I were kicking around proposal ideas to submit for the conference, I told her, "We need to talk about raising Hapa/Filipino-American children in this country. That's what we should be talking about."
"Really?" she said. "Why?"
"Why?!" I sputtered. I was taken aback.
Now, you must understand, my mom has two masters, the first being a Masters of Arts in Teaching Bilingual/Multicultural Education. She developed the scope and sequence for bilingual education grades K-3 for the Anchorage School District. This is the same woman who pulled me out of Catholic school, so that I could don the Filipino "butterfly" sleeves and dance to "Paru-Parong Bukid" at every multicultural fair ever held in town between 1978-1985. I've been living and breathing cultural diversity since I was born.
And I'm Hapa.
"Because it's extremely difficult to be raised in two cultures," I said, "especially if you have parents who are not aware of the tightrope you must walk every day, the balance you constantly strive to attain."
It got me thinking of my own journey as a Hapa, a term I've come to love and embrace as the one I choose to describe my ethnic heritage.
The only thing universal about being Hapa is that each experience is unique. It remains the quintessential essence of being multiracial. While you can identify with those who are of mixed heritage, you can't truly commiserate because rarely is one your exact "blend" of ethnic backgrounds. You can lay claim to all and yet lay claim to no one in the same breath. It seems contradictory, a paradox, like being a citizen of the world...with no country.
"Hmmmm..." my mom had said. I think she was playing devil's advocate. I'm still not sure.
If you're interested in learning more about the conference, please go to: www.fanhs-national.org. Stay tuned. Lots more to come!
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Category:blogs -- posted at: 5:44am UTC