“Where you from?” is the question asked almost immediately during travels, no matter how far or close we wander from home. No wonder why this question was asked, when I approached a charming couple near-by to ask about the hiking trails in Acadia National Park, in Maine. Since I have been calling the whole world My home and my last point of reference was Connecticut, this is what I replied. “And before that? You have an accent”. Since it seemed quite neutral to me, asked out of curiosity rather than anything else, I said, Belarus. And then a talented Belarusian tennis player came up in the conversation.
And I wondered, should I have asked the same question also. “And before that, where are you from?” After all, this is the country of immigrants, and was based on different values and ideas, at least in their idealistic kind of way.
Equality. Liberty. And Justice. For all.
When I was an Italian language tutor and instructor, I met many people of Italian heritage who did not speak Italian, and some of them have never been to the country of their parents or grandparents and their cultural awareness and reference of Italy was based on communities here, and it is not quite the same. I also met those who were learning the language of their parents only when they retired. When I asked them why, many of them replied it was because of the accent, and their parents felt it would be easier for their children to be accepted as Americans, one of them, once they had an American accent.
Has anything changed since then?
Isn’t it fair of any advanced society recognize the efforts not only of those who were born in the country or the ones with heritage, but also the efforts of those who actually speak the language, are aware of the culture and its peculiarities, live, work, travel and consider the country their Home? All the reasons to be accepted as equal citizens, besides the obvious fact of being a human. Accent or not.
I am obviously not an Italian, and I never pretend to be one. However, I recognize that this is the language of my heart and soul, part of my identity, part of who I am, and I honor it. This is what motivated me to learn the language at the University, study and travel in Italy, get degrees in international studies and modern languages, become a tutor, interpreter, instructor, and write about it all also.
I never think of my accent, unless someone asks me about it in a conversation. Neither I think of it as a weakness, on the contrary, I think of it as a strength. The strength of acknowledging and honoring every part of who I am and every part of my identity. Besides that, I actually like that I can read and write and communicate in Russian, Belarusian, English, Italian, a little bit of Spanish and a few phrases in other languages also. Accent or not ) It is definitely a great advantage, especially during my travels, doing research, communicating with others and being a travel writer. And I am really glad that I was never aware of the perception that it is not possible to be multilingual and multicultural. To me it is natural just like breathing.
Interestingly enough, I am writing this in Acadia National Park in Maine, USA. The whole region was named by Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazano. L’Acadie, or Acadia. It is believed to be a Wabanaki word (ancient native people of the area who inhabited the island long before Europeans), while others believe it is named after Arcadia, a scenic region of ancient Greece. There are many other reminders that pinpoint how interconnected and culturally diverse this world and this area are. Many of the islands and towns have the names of the first European explorers and settlers of the region. From the name of the Island itself (Mount Desert Island) to the island’s mountains (Cadillac and Champlain Mountains), named after French explorers, Samuel de Champlain and Sieur de Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac (the one who also founded Quebec in Canada). This is just one of the examples how the whole world has a multicultural identity of its own.
May be, having a cultural awareness and sensitivity is recognizing and accepting the fact that we are all from somewhere. After all, it is not about where we are born, it is who we are that matters the most.
It is easy to get to the top here, just drive up, and in a few minutes you are already there
or at least know where the parking is to hike up the trails
This is Cadillac Mountain, or the tallest mountain on the northern Atlantic coast
with amazing views of the Bar Harbor from the mountain top
and incredible panoramic views of the whole area
as far as eyes can see….
Did I mention a multitude of islands along the coastline?
And picturesque hiking trails?
There are many hiking trails in Acadia national park for all fitness levels
And this is one of the trails along Park Loop Road
among wild flowers and natural beauty
Although suggested by quite a few travelers I met along the way, once I got to the top of this trail, there was not much of a view, just this! And all I thought “Am I the only one who doesn’t get fascination with rocks nowadays? So no, I am not raving or even suggesting this trail, just giving you heads up…. Is it worth it? )
And these are panoramic views from one of Cadillac Mountain trails…. Definitely worth it!
Acadia national park might be known for its sunrise, however, nature views throughout the day are just as spectacular and amazing!
Peace and Love,
All opinions and experiences are, as always, my own.
For traveler related information and planning check out Official Acadia National Park web site.by