Cultural Heritage of a Girl from New Hampshire

The first time I was asked about my cultural heritage, I had no idea what to say. I am a white girl from the whitest state in the country: New Hampshire. At first glance, my culture consists of white bread and salt and pepper as primary seasonings. The more I reduced my cultural heritage to this, the more I realized it was so much more than this.

My New Hampshire cultural heritage is best defined by the Noah Kahan lyrics: “I’m tired of dirt roads named after high school friend’s grandfathers — time moves so damn slow — I swear I feel my organs failing — I stopped caring about a month ago — since then it’s been smooth sailing — I would die in the house that I grew up in” To synthesize, I grew up in a small town, and an even smaller community. When I tell people that I don’t have a traffic light in my town, they are astonished. There are quite literally roads in my quaint town that are named after people that I went to high school with, even my road is named after someone who went to my high school. I know everybody and everybody knows me. The time moves so slowly, which gives me time to breathe. I spend my evenings and mornings in spaces where I feel incredibly close to the sky. The open space, the rolling hills, the mountains. The air I breathe is not inhibited by the surrounding infrastructure. At home, I breathe, and my breath eventually touches the farthest cloud in the sky. I need not worry about my breath being intercepted by a skyscraper before it reaches a cloud.

I am, beyond, a proud New Englander, a daughter of a Southern mother and a daughter of a Midwestern father. My mother’s addition to my cultural heritage is manifested in me by way of hospitality and warmth. In the South, a geographical location that I consider my second home, people are warm, affable, and welcoming. My mom has instilled these qualities in me since I was a little girl. My dad’s addition to my cultural heritage is manifested in me by way of his seemingly-stupid, corn pone humor. I am not as connected to the Midwest as I am to the South, and yet I find aspects of my father’s Midwestern heritage instilled in me.

From what I know from talking to my cultural exchange partner, the easiest difference to speak about is the difference in the color palette of the landscape. She told us that she lives in the desert, a forty-five-minute commute out of the city. With a quick Google search, I found that the color motif of the desert is warm-toned. The landscape is made of reds, oranges, and yellows: a beautiful warm image. The landscape from where I take my time to breathe is cool-toned. Greens, blues, purples. I am not sure how your geographic landscape affects you as a functioning human in your society, but it is still interesting to note the difference in color palette.






2 responses to “Cultural Heritage of a Girl from New Hampshire”

  1. Yusr Mohamed Avatar

    I find it interesting that the first thought when describing your cultural heritage is to diminish it. I dislike the idea that one culture can be more ‘cultured’ than another. Culture, to me, is the culmination of historical, familial, and environmental factors that shape each of our unique identities. Community and how we are brought up are significant players in how culture manifests in all our lives. I enjoyed learning about the town you grew up in and felt a deep level of parallelism where we both grew up. I was born in what is considered a ‘big’ city where I’m from (Khartoum, Sudan). Yet, in the area I grew up in, everyone knew everyone and even the streets were named after people we knew. Although we may have had very different upbringings, I find it comforting just knowing that there can be these parallels even across oceans.

  2. Shahad Alzarooni Avatar
    Shahad Alzarooni

    Hi Helen, thank you for sharing your beautifully written perspective! I’m glad that you are finding importance in your upbringing because no one should feel like they should reduce their cultural heritage!

    Our experiences, although thousands of miles away, share many attributes. My parents grew up in different emirates, and I see elements of their upbringing in my personality as well. My dad grew up in a quiet neighborhood in Sharjah, and my mom grew up in the even quieter Umm al-Quwain. I think that the community in Umm al-Quwain might be more similar to what you described in your experience growing up in a small town.

    I lived in Sharjah my entire life, and recently moved to a suburb that is more secluded than the ones I’ve previously lived in, called Al Rahmaniya. I love the landscape here, especially the sunsets! Your description of the open space and beautiful scenery spoke to me. Having grown up in such a close-knit environment, did you experience any elements of culture shock during the virtual meeting?

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