Beginning a new life and forming a new identity in a foreign country is not an easy task, we as immigrants usually face challenges to identify ourselves in a new culture which is very different from our own. Identity formation is the development of one’s distinctive personality due to particular reasons such as a new environment, a new culture, new language and new life style. During this process; we can either create or deny the bond with our own culture.
Based on The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiris, this paper intends to explain and explore the process that we have to go thru in order to blend in the different culture when we come from a foreign country to the US, just like Ashima struggles through language and cultural barriers as well as her own fears. Like Ashima and Ashoke, all immigrants, go through a process of adaptation and learning. However, we, as first generation, the one that didn’t grow up in the US, will maintain ties with our home country and try to teach and inculcate the values our culture to our children.
Being a foreigner gives us a unique perspective about life since we know what it is like to leave our home. Our children might never feel or know the feeling and challenge that we went through in order to establish and start a new life in a new country. At some point the acculturating process becomes real when we start seeing our home country as a foreign country, it used to be home; just like Ashima, we gradually accustom to the life in the U. S. Might as well, the feelings and roots are not completely the same as back home, we will never become American either.
However, we can deal with that, by the time goes by every time it gets easier to adapt this country as home and perhaps not the only but the most difficult barrier is communication and learning a new language. Communication and language, just like Ashima when she went to hospital and had a hard time to interact, Those barriers slow down the process of learning and developing new stuffs. We as English as second language students, frustrate at the beginning due to the lack of communication with others and for instance, most of the time, we feel the impulse to connect with other people that speaks our language.
For some of us who came from countries where the Gregorian alphabet is not used, the learning process becomes even harder. Pronunciation or speaking is a challenge too because most of the time we are betrayed by our accent. However, once the English skills start improving due to the acculturating process, we assimilate that there is no going back and we look forward to master our English skills. Learning foreign languages opens our minds to new ways of thinking. While there are some people that learn a language because of interest or they want a challenge, we have to learn in this case English because of a practical need for survival.
Just reminiscent of Ashima, the author portraits an immigrant that go through a lot in order to accommodate a new life can relate to the struggle and feelings of alienation, culture shock, and homesickness. In the beginning, it’s all about missing the longstanding life and days. It is a process to start settling in the American life and for instance we have to adapt and learn new customs and new ways of doing things and follow different procedures that are completely different from where we came.
Not to mention the pain that is generated by leaving family, home and the loved ones behind. The struggle has begun since most of the immigrants come from third world countries, adopt this new culture will be shocking, and the chief motivation is to achieve the goals that each one of us assume before making this kind of decision, by leaving our home country we realize we gave up on our old life looking forward to the better future, and just like everyone else we want to achieve our American dream in the land of the opportunity, the US.
To sum up, the Namesake shows, cultural dilemmas faced by us as immigrants in this foreign system. Just like Ashima, we have no choice nonetheless to adapt to this culture, and, unfortunately, as we change location, our identity is exposed to changes as well.
Perhaps our values will last till our final days, but we have alienated with what this country demands, in order to achieve the goals mentioned, we have no choice except to learn the language and adopt the American lifestyle and practice it in our daily basis. When it comes to our home country we have to keep the best memories from it as the time goes by and settle, there is no going back. When the process of adaptation starts and as we mention previously the struggle becomes real, but it is worth the sacrifice.