By Hannah Schuett for KidSpirit's Reality and Perception Issue.
In my culturally diverse family, I am exposed to many different customs in my day-to-day life, which has made me appreciate diverse cultures and traditions.
Whenever I am at my father’s house, we celebrate Jewish holidays and traditions. However, whenever I am at my mother’s house, we generally eat meals from Middle Eastern cuisines and celebrate Christian holidays.
I am not religious, but at my father’s house, we celebrate customs from the Jewish culture. My stepmother is Jewish, and so is her family. Because of this, my father, siblings, and I have all adopted and nurtured that culture. From saying all of the blessings every Friday night for Shabbos to packing everyone into the minivan so we can go to synagogue for a special celebration, we do it all. My dad built us a sukkah, a small covering we dine under for the holiday of Sukkot, so that we can celebrate this culture in our backyard.
Whenever I go to my mother’s house, it is a whole new environment. When I was eight, my mom married my stepfather, who is Lebanese. He brought a lot of his culture into our family, which included the amazing Middle Eastern food that his parents taught him how to make. He introduced me to all sorts of new foods that I had never eaten before. As a child, I was the opposite of a picky eater, which meant that I tried everything that he recommended to me. Through this process of tasting what felt like every Lebanese food in the world, I came to have the same food preferences that he has in that cuisine.
Not only did my Lebanese grandparents have amazing cooking skills, but they were also very accepting of my mother’s religion. My grandparents are Muslim, and my mother is Christian, but that never stopped us from being a family. My grandparents celebrated and actually encouraged my mother’s holidays while still acknowledging their own.
I believe completely in social equality, and I have never been opposed to a new culture because it is different. I like to believe that this is because of my multi-cultural family and the impact that such a family had on my view of the world. Many people on this planet are terrified of new things coming into their lives; they only like the cultures that are identical to their own. I would like to change this outlook on life throughout my generation so that everyone has an open mind about the world around us. I experienced diversity within my own household, but I believe that anyone can feel the same passion that I do with a bit of information on how the people in this world truly are.
When she wrote this piece, Hannah Schuett was in the eighth grade at St. Mary's Academy in Colorado. She is an adventurous learner who loves sitting in coffee shops while reading a good book, hiking "14ers" (mountains above 14,000 feet in elevation), and trying new things.