"Shout Out to Kevin!"
Welcome to Root & Seed, hosted by Anika Chabra, a brand new podcast about tradition seekers who are exploring, defining, and celebrating their family and cultural identities.
In our first episode, we explore the idea of Culture Catalysts - the moment that triggers people to choose to embrace the culture of their parents. Anika talks to Eddie and Vicky, two amazing people who had different feelings about their heritage growing up, but at completely different stages of their life, realized that maybe there was something to their roots worth nurturing.
If you’d like to tell us your story, or chat about your thoughts on culture, family, and heritage, we always love to chat. Share any comments below, and please subscribe for our newsletter to never miss a Root & Seed moment.
Hey, my name is Anika Chabra and you are listening to Root & Seed, a podcast about tradition seekers who are sparked to explore, define, and celebrate their family and cultural identity. You might be wondering what led us to want to start this podcast?
Compelled by life events, including the COVID-19 pandemic, and while on paths of self-discovery my Root & Seed partner, Jenn Siripong Mandel, and I have been on a real journey. We've been sparked to rediscover our own family cultures and stories; to really understand them, to figure out how to document them and own them as our own. As second generation to parents who came to North America in the 1970s, the threat of losing our identity feels real and a desire to preserve it has been ignited. And as parents, we wonder; how can we impart those family and cultural values on our kids? What will they take forward as they grow older? Hence, Root & Seed was born.
Over the course of the last several months, we have spoken to hundreds of like-minded people from all sorts of backgrounds. It has been an incredibly eye-opening experience. We are so grateful for all the connections, the time, the stories, the honesty, the laughter. When we listen back to all we recorded, we can't help but get teary-eyed at literally seeing a piece of each of your hearts. A big thank you to all our contributors.
Okay, so let's be real. This is our first episode and even though we are podcast junkies, podcasting for our own platform has been a real learning curve for us. So, a) thank you for listening, and b) we’d love to hear what you think.
For our inaugural episode, we thought we should play with the notion of choice. You see, as second-generation North Americans we are so incredibly lucky to be the beneficiaries of all the hard work of our parents. They came to North America, yes, with $12 in their pockets and importantly laid down the foundation, put in all the hard work that was necessary to survive and eventually thrive. With that journey they brought with them their experiences, their backgrounds, their culture, their traditions. Even though many of those early day stories included assimilation, deep seated racism, trial & error and failure, all that hard work and those journeys has provided our generation with choice. The ability to pick and choose what traditions, rituals, and practices we want to celebrate in our homes. It's a real gift.
What we've discovered after speaking to our community, is that the cool thing is that there often is a catalyst, a spark, a moment when you're triggered to embrace the culture of your parents and really embrace your family roots. Sometimes that comes with age or lifestage, really coming into your own, a life moment or milestone like a birth or death, or maybe it's something more subtle, an experience.
We spoke to Vicky, a second generation Canadian of Chinese descent who shared how her relationship with her family culture changed over the course of her early life. While at first she didn't feel a connection; when her environment did change, so did her desire to connect. Here's Vicky!
I grew up in the seventies in a small suburb of Montreal and I was pretty much the only Asian kid in my elementary school. I was really focused on making sure I didn't stand out because of that.
I wanted to be like everyone else, even as I moved onto high school and Cégep in Quebec, and there were more people who looked like me... I had more Asian classmates, I felt like I almost deliberately didn't want to hang out with other Asians because again, I just wanted to be seen as ‘normal’ and be white and just fit in and not make any noise. That's kind of the whole model minority myth I guess. So that's how I kind of started out, but I definitely felt there were some small, but real moments of change where I felt like, this is something new. An example would be; in University when I walked into the office of the Chinese Students Association and I have to tell you that I felt a little envious of all these people who looked like me, who seemed to be so connected. I felt like I belonged there yet not really because I'd spent so much time kind of shutting it.
Another example was when I moved to Toronto from Montreal after finishing University, my first roommate was a Chinese-born woman who was very culturally entrenched. So all of her friends were Chinese and she cooked only Chinese food. And I remember going out for dinner one night with her and a bunch of her friends to a Chinese restaurant. We had a great time and I looked around and I thought, I feel like I belong here. And this was not something I was used to. I guess I never really felt the need to be around other Asians until I started being around other Asians. I didn't see other people like me because there weren't a lot and then suddenly when they appeared and I was around them, I felt like I needed that sense of belonging.
Same thing happened when I traveled back to China and Hong Kong with my parents after finishing school and again, it was that I looked around me and all of these Asians surrounding me. I suddenly felt like I belonged, like this maybe is my home. These are my roots. This is where my family and my roots are.
Love what Vicky said about never really feeling the need to be around other Asians until she was around other Asians. She is one self-aware woman, honoured to have her in our community.
We also had the pleasure of speaking with Eddie. Eddie is a young, bright, world trotting Korean Canadian, who absolutely lit up when we spoke to him about his pride around being Korean once he claimed it as his own and had fun with it. It was important to Eddie's parents that he was exposed to his Korean heritage early on - everything from the food to church to school. What was interesting was that another side of his culture came out when he had his spark, as he got a little bit older into his teen years. Here's Eddie.
When I was in, sometime in middle school, I had a friend in my class named Kevin. He had just immigrated from Korea and we just hit it off, like, we became instant, best friends. We were hanging out at each other's places every chance that we get and he really opened my eyes to Korean culture. Especially as a child, because I've only seen it from the strong disciplinary side of my mom and my dad, but to see the fun side, the music, just a little nuance of growing up in Korea, what that was like. That was a big eye-opener for me.
He definitely helped me connect more. And in high school, we actually ended up at the same high school. And at one point, we had a friend-circle who were all Korean, were speaking Korean. I was trying to speak Korean. I would say we kind of tried to do Korean things, I guess. So I feel like I got to experience at least a sliver of what it was like to be, maybe, a bit more Korean.
I have one other thing too. I mean, during that time I was crushing pretty hard on this Korean girl. She had recently immigrated. So, that was definitely like a motivator for me, but otherwise I would say, "Yeah, Kevin, shout out to Kevin if you're out there listening".
Shout out to Kevin and all the Kevins out there. Oh. And also Eddie's story left me wondering, is there anything we wouldn't do for love? All of this got us thinking, do we need to reject or question our culture in order to truly come into it, take it up a notch and be proud of it? Does that tension need to exist when you're second generation living in another culture than your familial one?
In fact, maybe you don't realize you need it until you're in it. For Eddie and Vicky, they came to this realization at different times in their life. But for both, it was people from outside their immediate family, their peer groups, that helped them realize that they belong and truly belong. Who we are is picked and chosen from the cultures we are surrounded by. Love that notion.
So with that, I hope you enjoyed our first episode of Root & Seed. This season we'll cover topics like how to keep memories and traditions alive, Why do people immigrate? What the experience of a first-generation immigrant is like, and an honest conversation around self shame and over-correction.
We hope you'll tune in for our second episode where we will share our conversation with Danielle who is a quintessential cultural nomad and citizen of the world. Her cultural identity started as an undercurrent and grew from there. It's a super interesting conversation. Go forth and think about your journey with your family's culture. And if you also felt a spark to connect with it like Vicky and Eddie, we'd love it to hear from you!
Hosted by: Anika Chabra
Brought to you by: Root & Seed
Executive Producer: Jennifer Siripong Mandel
Edited by: Camille Blais
Music credit: Something 'bout July (Instrumental) by RYYZN
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0
Free Download / Stream: http://bit.ly/-_something-bout-july
Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/OFga9pkl6RU