My personal heritage seems to be very different from many others due to the fact that 3 heritages intertwine with one person. My father, who is full Iranian, came to the United States when he was about 18 years old and didn’t know much about the way Americans lived. From his transition from Iran to America, it has definitely impacted the way I was raised in my family.
My mother was born and raised in South San Francisco by a full blooded Italian father and a full blooded Greek mother and grew up in a rough neighborhood, which is probably why she is so outspoken. With this said, my mother is the one who basically has the last “say” in my family. My father is definitely more reserved and not that outspoken possibly due to the fact that most of his family is back in Iran and English is his second language. Even with my reserved father, I would say that the heritage that I take the most after would be from his side.
I felt the most connected to this part of my heritage when I took a trip to Iran back in 2009 and met some of my family members for the first time. Although I do not speak farsi(the native language), I still was able to connect with my family members emotional, physically and mentally. Not being able to speak the native language is one way I feel more disconnected from this side of my heritage, but by being around family, food, attire, stories and legends makes the language barrier not a big factor. I believe that if you practice at least of couple of attributes of your heritage then I think you still have a great connection with it. With that being said, I was able to see places that I thought I would never get to see like Isfahan, an old capital from when Shah Abas was leading Persia, and beginning able to swim in the Caspian Sea.
Not only did I see amazing places but the food was also indescribable. My father is the cook in my household and he is always cooking persian dishes, but the food in Iran is about 10 times better than his cooking. By having this experience, I think that it helped me identify with where I fit the most because before I never really knew where I did because I didn’t know much about this side of myself. It gave me a whole other take on life and how I perceive other people and heritages.
The other take on my mothers side is a little less known because my Italian side has died off, but my greek side is ridiculously big. Although we are Americanized Greeks, one way that we keep in touch with our heritage is through food, clothing, music, and dancing. One of my favorite times of the year is during labor day weekend and the Greek Orthodox Church of Holy Cross in Belmont, CA puts on a weekend long Greek Food Festival. My favorite dish at these festivals has to be the Pastistio dish. It is a dish like lasagna with pasta, meat filling, and creamy sauce that is baked to perfection. Besides the food being delicious, the music and line dancing are what make the festival so exciting. Even though I never traditionally learned how to Greek line dance, I just hop along and catch on with the music and beat everyone is on. No one ever noticed that I didn’t know what I was doing except the fact that I wasn’t in traditional attire. Overall, by eating, dancing, and moving to part of my heritage, it truly brings me happiness and joy that I’m still connect in some way.