Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Posts Tagged ‘students’

Dinner party or just a communal table?

Posted by chinesecanuck on November 10, 2008

I was recently at a dinner hosted by an accquaintance of mine.  She’s a university student and is the president of one of the school’s clubs.  Most of the guests at her dinner party, which was held at one of the local restaurants, were members of said club, with the exception of myself and another guest.  The club was somewhat diverse:  Half were Asian (mostly immigrant or foreign (visa) students), one was South Asian, one black guest and the club president and VP are white. 

There was something about the dinner that bothered me.  It wasn’t because the executive wasn’t “ethnic,” but how people interacted with each other.  WIth the exception of myself, the other Asian guests only talked with each other, even after the host tried to get them to join in.  The dinner felt more like dining at a counter or communal table – it felt like two separate groups.  Some may suggest that language was an issue, but they seemed to speak English well enough to join an organization that was English-speaking only.  Discussion topics might have been an issue, since we spent some time talking about movies, music, etc…but it didn’t dominate the entire meal. 

There was a lot of self-segregation when I was in school in the 90s and early 2000s, but generally, people didn’t join clubs if they were only going to talk amongst themselves.  Of course, I’ve only met these people once.  They might not be like that outside of that dinner situation (or accept the post-dinner mall excursion invite) – after all, there were two outsiders (myself and another person) at the party.  However, that wasn’t what it looked like to me as an observer.  And it just bugged.


Posted in assimilation, culture, education, English, ESL, ethnicity, minorities | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Students at Religious Schools who are of Different Religions

Posted by chinesecanuck on April 24, 2008

As you’ve probably read in previous posts, high school was (and still is) affiliated with the Anglican Church of Canada. We had to go to regular services, regardless of what our faith.  Our services weren’t overtly religious, though hymns were sung, prayers said and Scripture read.  Parents send their kids to the school knowing that services are a part of the school’s culture, so they generally don’t have a problem with it.  The people who DO have issues are outsiders.  Some are even SHOCKED to hear that say, Muslim or Jewish parents would even think about sending their kid there.  They seem to think religion first, academics second. Is religion really more important than what the kid learns in school?  Except for two years of religious education in Grades 7 and 8, nothing outside of mandatory services is religious based.  Do people automatically think “religious school” as soon as they hear about mandatory services?  Just because a school has historical connections to a church doesn’t mean that it’s a true “religious school.”  Schools under the Roman Catholic school board are probably more religious than my alma mater, and these schools, at least the high schools aren’t really religious!  In fact, the school often has “talks” or presentations by students and staff who are of different faiths.  It was very normal for us.  In any case, many “traditional” private schools tend to have some sort of connection to a church.  Even those that don’t, such as Toronto’s Upper Canada College, still has a school hymn and/or prayer.  I guess people need to do their homework!

Posted in assimilation, culture, ethnicity, feminism, minorities, prayer, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »