Start Here. Start Somewhere.

What is Interculture?

Hi everyone.  Welcome to TheInterCulture.

The word interculture doesn’t exist.  It’s not found in a dictionary.  I made it up.

Just for fun, I’ll define interculture (noun) (aka #interculture) as the active engagement and interaction between two or more cultures such as art, food, ethnicity, style, travel, relationships, work, etc.

TheInterCulture, as it exists here and now, is a place to share my perspective on life and people.  I’m interested in global competence and its relevance to intercultural issues.  On a smaller scale, I identify a cultural array of objects, art, food, places and events near and far that I find curious or compelling.

Intercultural Identity

Culture surrounds and defines us in ways big and small.  You could easily categorize your life by the various cultures you ascribe to whether you recognize it or not – work culture, family culture, food, sports, technology, urban, etc.  We are and live within this ecosystem of cultures.  As an Asian American born in San Francisco to an immigrant father and nomadic foreign diplomat’s daughter, I have always lived within a myriad of cultures.  I never looked at my life or labeled it as intercultural until I moved to Seoul, Korea with my family back in the late 80s.  Living there helped me to accept my “Asian-ness” and to even consider it as kinda cool.   I grew curious about mixed ethnicity and identity.  And as my life evolved past college through travels, marriage, career, moving from California to New York to Chicago to Boston then Pennsylvania, the more confused I became fulfilling new roles as wife, daughter and employee.  The pressure of unrealistic expectations and comparisons to everyone around made life a fruitless struggle.

From Loss to Cultural Consolation

I lost Esther, my mom, to cancer when I was 27 and newly married.  From that moment any pre-existing family culture, identity and narcissistic journeys of self-discovery I held onto were destroyed.  My loss fueled an unshakeable and persistent desire to go out into the world and discover, devour and absorb.  And I did.

Culture became my passionate consolation.  I studied ukiyo-e art and its influence on Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago. I observed every nuance of Canova’s Three Graces at the Hayward Gallery. I learned to make dashi broth in Kyoto and inhale the depth of umami. I attended one act story-telling performances of Troy in a cramped cafe where I exercised my rusty imagination to play out visual drama in my head. I would walk to work for 2 miles in sub-zero temperatures along Lake Michigan to feel the chill on my cheeks and to be silent in a big city.  It doesn’t seem right that experiencing death makes you appreciate the deep yet simple senses of life.  I reconnected with family who I had not seen for decades, started really listening to people that mattered and made some new friends.  Whether it was a wave of mania, depression or both, I was enriching my life with new cultures and renewing my soul.

Today and Tomorrow

Today I live in small town in southeast Pennsylvania with a fifth generation Californian husband of Swedish, English and German descent and an ethnically mixed but self-assured 3-year old daughter and adopted 8-year old cat called Mochi, also of mixed breed.

I’ve been cultivating and nurturing this #interculture for over a dozen years.  I’m finally claiming my stake in this digital space with a virtual address.  TheInterCulture exists at the intersection of where conversation meets cultural connection.

So come back soon and let’s talk some more.

In the meantime, let me know where you come from and what’s your #interculture?  Please share in the comments.  You can also read more about me here.

8 thoughts on “Start Here. Start Somewhere.

  1. Carol Trump

    Dear friend Jen,
    Splendid endeavor! This is amazing, you are awesome–and vice versa.
    Looking forward to more inter-connections. Write on =)

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