American/Italian/Greek | French
My father is 100% Breton, which means that he comes from Brittany (a region located in the western part of France). I find it fascinating that all his family comes from the same place, and has been there for so many generations. I find it even more amazing that my mother has a mix of European and American blood – which means I have French, American, Italian and Greek origins. When I travel, people often find it hard to tell where I’m from. They hesitate between Canada (because of my weird French-American accent?), the Middle East (it only happened once, I guess it’s because my skin can turn pretty brown during summer) Italy, Spain, and sometimes even Germany. Once somebody told me "You have to be French, you have a French nose". I think it was a compliment but didn’t really understand what it meant. I only have a quarter American blood, but since I’m very close to my grandmother and she practically raised me, I feel American. She is from Tupelo, Mississippi. She too has a mixed heritage: she has Irish, British and Cherokee (native American) blood. Nowadays, it’s very ‘cool’ to come from a multicultural background, but it didn’t use to be, at least for people in my family. For instance, my grandfather is not particularly proud to have Italian and Greek blood. He was born and raised in France, always called himself French and never talks about his multicultural heritage. I, on the contrary, want to know where I come from and wanted to learn Italian ever since I was little. When I was 24, I moved in Italy for a few months because I wanted to spend time there and learn about this country. For me, multiculturalism is a strength, not only for people, but also society. In Race and History (1952) Claude Lévi-Strauss focused its research on the diversity of cultures. He wanted to show that historical change is driven by cultural innovation, which means that intercultural exchanges are beneficial for the future of global population. Another author, Michel Leiris, explains in ‘Race and Culture’ (1956) that each society passes on its culture to the next generation: ‘a group’s future is as truly the product of its culture as its culture is of its past’, which means that ‘the culture epitomises its past experience and provides the next generation with a starting point’, namely a system of rule and models of behaviour, values, concepts, techniques, instruments. But all cultures influence themselves which means that even though there is a common basis to pass on to the next generation, contact between different cultures makes them changing and mobile. Thus, culture can never be regarded as fixed forever, it is constantly experimenting changes. Multiculturalism is therefore necessary, and we should be proud of it.