16 November, 2015

Seeing the world through the eyes of a young child living in two different cultures

Seeing the world through the eyes of a young child living in two different cultures

I never really thought of my childhood as being unique or different, until a tour member on our last journey to Bali simply stated “how unique of a childhood you had, spending half of it in Bali, learning their customs, beliefs and values and the other half living in the United States learning a completely different set of norms.”  It was at this point that I was able to revert back in time to my childhood and how I felt living in both Bali and the United States.

In Bali as a young child there was no electricity, water was brought up in buckets from the river gorge below our home. I was taught to eat with my hands; I spent most of my time with the Balinese family whose land we lived on eating bananas and rice.  At that time of my life I felt “Balinese”, in my eyes there was no difference between who I was and the people who loved and took care of me like I was their own.

I remember my first time back to the United States after living in Bali for over a year, my first instinct was to use my hands to eat (who needed silverware). I was of course, immediately told by my parents that I now needed to eat with a fork and knife. I was very confused and did not understand why, I remember very much preferring to eat with my hands to using silverware. This was just one of the very many cultural differences that I had to get used to after being back in the United States. 

As a teenager I refused to go back and visit Bali because I didn’t want to leave my friends. Little did I know at the time how lucky I was to have such an opportunity. Returning to Bali as an adult, I do not take any of it for granted. It still feels like home, the smell, the sounds and the people have stayed the same. I now know that the way I was raised was unique and very special. I feel so very fortunate to have been raised in two different cultures.

Did you travel growing up?

If so what was your experience?


Gitana Omi
Tour Guide

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