Writing for no more and no less than 3 minutes in response to each question:
– How does your outward appearance (i.e. clothing, makeup, hairstyle, accessories, etc.) reflect your cultural identity?
As an Egyptian woman, we love to wear jewellery, real gold and silver. Women of all socio-economic classes save their money by buying more gold, instead of putting money in the bank. The more bangles on your arm, the more jewellery you have, the richer you are. It’s what you leave for your daughter, even if you don’t have a daughter, you pass it on to your favorite female relative. It’s what appreciates in value more than money in the bank.
– How do your behaviors and practices (i.e. rituals, daily activities, routines, habits, etc.) reflect your cultural identity?
As a practicing Muslim, the daily five prayers are what keep me in contact with my faith, it’s when I prostrate and submit to the events of the day. It’s when I synthesize my wishes. It’s when I ask God to protect my family and loved ones from harm. It’s when I wish for them happiness and success. It’s when I think of all my friends, my acquaintances, and hope they feel fulfilled and at peace.
– How do your beliefs and values (i.e. opinions, commitments, memberships, principles, etc.) reflect your cultural identity?
My beliefs and values stem from the heart, and in my heart, I hold my family, my relatives and my friends, whom I cherish and adore. My happiness stems from seeing these people happy, a smile on their face I never hesitate to help, support or spoil any of these people. I go above and beyond. This is me. Some might say “it’s too much,” and “you shouldn’t have,” but I want to, I want my gravestone to be that people remember me for getting out of my way for them. This is what I understand love to be, this is how I love, and if it’s not “what’s done these days” so be it, it’s “how I do it.”
– How do your dietary and domestic practices (i.e. hygienic routines, meals and mealtimes, food choices, daily chores) reflect your cultural identity?
We are lucky to have Egyptian grocers in Montreal. There is also a large Lebanese supermarket chain. The advantage is that we get to have the cuisine we love while living in Canada. Even the brand names we are used to find their way to Montreal. This makes us able to have falafel, or fava beans for breakfast when we want to. We are also able to get from the butcher the meat and the marinated chicken the way we like. There are even fast food chains in Montreal that offer shawarma, and many of our favourite meals.
– How does your region or location in the world reflect your cultural identity?
I am an outsider both in Egypt and in Canada, belonging to both, yet somehow not belonging too. I have always had a foot in each country and feel the most at ease when I’m flying. So, home is the air in between. But by having two places that I identify as home, has enabled me to have the eastern and western perspective when looking at any issue.
– Describe a time when you were judged, excluded, or misunderstood because of one of the cultural traits noted above?
There is a general misconception that Egypt is still ancient and has never modernized. Questions of whether I ride a camel to school, or lived in a tent, peppered my elementary school days. Even today when I say I’m Egyptian people come up with the strangest comments. Last year, my son’s American class mate was visiting, and she was very surprised that there were malls, and that they had American brand names. She said, “I never realized how Americanised the world is.”