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.