[Letter from the editors]
We wanted to dig deeper.
Deeper than delicious food, intricate costumes, traditional dance, and lyrical songs – elements that we’ve known to represent culture, but felt were somehow incomplete. Sitting at the Bostock Library bridge, we realized that we wanted to dig deeper. One of us had published an article about the shunning of wet markets by young people at home – open-air markets that sell fresh meat and produce frequented by parents and grandparents. The article, which started as a class assignment, became a window into a long conversation in which we compared how the generational divide is realized in each other’s community.
We then wondered about other international friends’ opinions on events or issues in their home countries – particularly issues that are well-reported and commented on by foreign news media. How do they perceive these issues in the context of their family and community? There seemed to be a need at Duke for a platform where international students could not only just think about, but also write about and share current issues in their home countries with their peers. What makes Duke a global institution is the diversity of opinions and insights offered by international students. A community that, so far, represents 65 countries.
Dig deeper, past surface culture to have a peek into the life of someone who grew up in a different cultural medium – their feelings, attitudes, ideas and personal values. It is not enough to learn how to say “hello” in another language. It is not enough to read a news article on Facebook, Like, and share.
It is not enough to converse within one’s own circle of friends.
Like international students anywhere, we live sort of a double life. The life at home that we’ve temporarily left on an impulse of good opportunity is in constant tension with our life here at Duke, at a pivotal phase in our development as young (and not-so-young) adults. We are in a particularly transformative and dynamic stage of our lives where new concepts and modes of thinking draw us in, where dreams are big but disappointments crushingly heavy, while trying to do it all and graduate on time. This is when we begin to learn about who we are and realize what we are not.
While all this personal transformation business runs wild, the ‘home’ that we hold as a familiar but distant image in our heads is changing. Any individual who has spent a good amount of time living immersed in a culture vastly different from their own would agree how difficult it can be to reconcile new ideas and the roots from where we come. Roots that are integral to our identity but are thorny and stubborn, challenging our new ideas.
Duke Mindmap was created to challenge international students at Duke to find your voice and own your story. Own your story, so that you can dig deeper and know other worlds without forgetting where home is.