Cultural Identity Reflective Essay Thesis

A cultural identity essay may turn out to be either the easiest task you've ever got assigned to write or a real torture. It all depends on the topic you choose and the techniques you use in writing this kind of academic paper. Some students google for "my cultural identity essay example" trying to use someone else's experience. However, there are no 100%-suitable cultural identity essay examples for you on the Web because each person has a unique background. Don't you worry! Here is a guide to help you to come up with excellent cultural identity essay topics on your own.

What a Cultural Identity Essay Is

Before you start writing or even picking a topic, you have to get a clear understanding what a this type of essay is and how it differs from other essays. This type of writing reveals your personality regarding your cultural background. No matter what aspects of your culture you've decided to depict, you should always write about how they have influenced your life views, behavior, beliefs, etc. So, one can state that this essay has a lot in common with a reflective one. Many students ask: "Do I always have to write a cultural identity essay about myself?" The answer is yes unless anything else is specified. In some cases, you may be asked to write an essay about the cultural identity of some other person or a fictional character.

How to Pick the Subject

The subject under your consideration is your cultural identity. However, you should narrow it down to write a successful essay. You may touch upon the themes of nationality, customs and beliefs, the environment you were raised in, the environment your parents were raised in as long as it concerns you, the historical background of your country, etc. If you've moved to another country, you may describe the differences between the aspects listed above and what you see here. On the other hand, you can search for parallels between your culture and the culture of the country where you live.

Choosing Cultural Identity Essay Topics

After you have selected the main subject of your essay, it is time to invent a perfect topic. Mind that there are several rules you are to follow while making your choice.

Rule #1 Consider Who You Are Going to Write About

As mentioned above there can be three main types of "protagonists" in this type of essay: you, another person who is usually well-known, or a fictional character. This is the first criterion for choosing your topic: ABOUT WHOM you are going to write. If it is about yourself, try to describe the unique experience you've got. If you work with a piece of literature, for example, try to reveal the character's traits rooted in his or her cultural identity.

Rule #2 Connect Your Topic to the Subject You've Chosen

Then, consider the subject you have chosen. The topic should demonstrate the strong connection between the person you are writing about and your subject.

Rule #3 Sparkle the Interest

Many students are wondering "If I write this essay about myself, will anybody read it?" If you think that nobody will read your personal essay attentively because it is boring, you can't be more wrong. Your teacher will read it anyway because this is the job to be done. However, it doesn't mean that you can relax. What makes your topic interesting to your readers is whether you give them an opportunity to associate with your experience or not. No matter whether you and your readers belong to the same culture or to different ones, you can fascinate them with your descriptions, awaken the feelings everybody has when they think of their home, and make your narrative really catchy. All this should find reflection in the topic you choose.

Rule #4 Make It Laconic

We have already discussed that cultural identity essay topics should reflect the content to grab the reader's attention. It is even more difficult given that the topic should be as short as possible. In the majority of cases, a topic includes a single sentence. But if you think it is impossible to say it in one sentence, your topic might have two. It is vital to remember the structure of such topic and titles, although you are better to work on the final title version when the body of work is ready. Use semicolon for a two-sentence topic. The second part can be either declarative or interrogative.

Mose, M. (1997). "A personal reflection on cultural identity." S. Hamilton, MA: Center for Youth Studies.


What is my cultural identity? What does cultural identity mean? If culture includes one’s native language, customs, beliefs, artistic characteristics, philosophies, theologies, norms, mores, and community, then my culture is Samoan. Samoans are people of Polynesian anthropological traits. Samoans generally are of average height, have brown skin and black coarse or straight hair, brown eyes, and strong physical bodies (typical of people with strong ties to the land and sea). Today, Samoa has two political governments—American Samoa and Western Samoa—but the culture has remained the very much the same since Samoans first occupied the island groups now called Samoa.

I was born to Samoan parents in Atuu, a village on the island of Tutuila, American Samoa. For most of my childhood, adolescence, and adult life, I have been connected to Samoa. The first time I left Samoa for an extended period was to attend college and graduate school. Now that I have become a naturalized U.S. citizen with many years left in graduate school, I do not know how long it will be before I can return to Samoa for ministry.

Although much of my cultural identity is Samoan, I also identify with Western, American norms. The interaction between Samoan and American values, combined with the influence of important early social systems, have ultimately shaped and transformed me.


My family was most influential in shaping my cultural identity as I grew up, especially from the ages of five to twelve. Everyone in the family knows what is expected of them: the father is the leader, the mother is the assistant, and children must obey. Family is a sacred institution, meaning that individuals exist in the context of their family. Strict rules dictate how children should relate to each other. The eldest sibling is respected, and girls in the family are treasured members. Girls are expected to model the values of honor, integrity, and family goodness. They are to be protected, by the males of the family, from slanders, scandals, and unwanted suitors. Boys are expected to be brave, adventurous, honest, honorable, respectful, and strong; the responsibility of protecting their sisters is important to the brothers of the family. Boys are also given tasks to enforce their warrior-like mission in the family and are trained to plant crops for family provision; these tasks demand physical exertion and psychological and mental acumen. Girls are assigned work that relates to the home, and they must respect their parents and honor their brothers by shying from trouble. Most of the girls’ interactions with the family are within the home, as this is where the mother is usually found: the daughter is the mother’s apprentice, preparing herself for womanhood.

The first and most important family lesson learned by any child is obedience. Parents teach their children obedience through delegating tasks, assigning chores, and providing protection and the overall needs of the family. Parents render their children’s basic needs, and children show their gratefulness by obeying their parents; thus, children are an honor to their parents. Children are living reflections of their parents to all in the community or village. Since the village is considered an extension of the family, elder members in the village also have the privilege of instructing children (they act as surrogate parents). In fact, the Samoan family is usually recognized as an extended family; cooperation in parenting is exercised and even expected by both the parents and children in the village. One neighbor may discipline a son or daughter of another neighbor. To the village, a misbehaving child damages the parents’ honor. Most children behave well because they understand that the whole village is looking after all of the children.


A second influential social system is school. In the Samoan village there is a pastor’s school. Children go to this school after they return from the government or public schools. The pastor’s school is also called the Samoan school because Samoan is spoken on site. Children learn mathematics, Biblical history, and Bible stories, all under the watchful eye of the pastor. The pastor is an important member of the community; he and his wife are considered the spiritual parents of the village. Therefore, when children attend the pastor’s school, the children are expected to show utmost respect to the pastor. The pastor is expected to discipline the children—for the good of the kids and the community. Teachers in public schools are also considered important authorities; parents encourage teachers to be strict with their kids. Young people clearly understand that at school, honor, respect, and obedience are demanded. No child—toddler to teen—wants to dishonor his or her parents at home, in the village, or in school.


A third important social system is peers. Peers are influential, but they are not as prominant as the family. Village youth develop peer groups within family-oriented and community-supported villages, so the same values of the family—honor, loyalty, and respect—pour into their peer groups. Peer groups prepare kids for adulthood and secure their commitments to the community, family, and society. Except for the few times when peer pressure overrides family expectations, rebelling against the family and community ensures self-humiliation, guilt, shame, and possible public apologies. Since families are judged by their success in upholding the good name of the community; parents may dictate which peer groups are acceptable for their kids. Parents generally approve of peer groups organized within the church. The village pastor sets up these youth groups to mold youngsters into obedient, honorable, and respectable kids. In schools, peer groups that foster community values are encouraged. Kids who deviate from community valued peer groups are often strongly disciplined by the teachers and are also reported to their parents and the community in which those kids live.


Media also influence young people. The family is still a stronger influence, even during adolescence. Television and radio are the two most popular forms of media: kids love to watch Saturday morning cartoon shows while older youth tend to prefer the radio. Contemporary Samoan songs are also popular. Most songs communicate themes of honor, respect, and responsibility to family values. Other themes in songs are about love, dreams of happiness, and relationships with sad endings. Films are popular and have been enjoyed even before video stores became prevalent.

Theaters and televisions ushered the "outside" world into my life. Those "outside" views depicted on the screens were forbidden in my family; yet, family values of honor, respect, integrity, goodness quickly seemed boring to me. However, the family values prevailed. It was not until I left the comfort of my family and community to attend college in a totally different environment that I became seriously confused about the conflict between the values of my family and other cultural values.


Family was the most influential system in my life. Growing up in a family system that was also quite accessible to the community helped me find supportive role models and acceptance in who I was as a young person. Other kids who rebelled against family value systems were not allowed to continue in their rebellion. I chose to live within the boundaries of the family influence, and I think that served me (and the community) well. On the other hand, when I left my family and community, I was not prepared for the cultural shock of the United States. I am still struggling to comfortably live in both communities and find comfort in the values of both my Samoan and American identities.

Mose Mose cCYS

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