Blending cultures with love

Written by: 
Gabe Fryar
Intercultural relationships require determination to learn about one another’s culture and appreciating their differences, according to BYU-Hawaii students in a relationship with someone from an- other culture. 
Computer science junior Kelvin Tan from Malaysia shared, “My mom told me that whomever I love, she will love them too. It’s more about the kind of person that you love and not the skin color, culture, or where they’re from.”
 
Kelvin and Beam Tan have been embracing an intercultural marriage for 11 months after first meeting each other working as tour guides in the Polynesian Cultural Center. Beam Tan, a senior studying TESOL from Thailand, shared, “Learning about each other’s culture has been really important. When you love someone, you learn to love their culture and origin as well. We both try very hard to learn about each other’s culture, and by doing so, we are able to grow closer.”
 
Emily Reid, a junior international cultural studies major from Oregon, advised, “Listen before judging. When there is something that I notice is really different, I’ve learned to watch and observe rather than compromising. An intercultural relationship doesn’t mean you have to change who you are to get along with the person you love. Instead it means becoming more accepting of each other’s cultures and becoming open to trying new things.”
 
Reid’s Samoan boyfriend Jones Segi, a freshman studying computer science, added, “It’s really important to learn to become understanding and open minded in any relationship, but especially when it’s intercultural. I’ve learned how important it is to embrace some new traditions as well, like giving gifts. In Samoa we didn’t really do that too often. Like for Christmas, we don’t really give gifts in the same way back home, so I didn’t known that Americans do a gift exchange.”
 
When questioned if an intercultural relationship can be for
anyone, Beam replied, “A lot of it depends on your attitude. Even when you love someone, you need to learn how to have the right attitude in making things work. Language may not be the most important in this relationship, but it really sets it apart in terms of communication. You need to be understanding and patient when you don’t know exactly what the other person means.”
 
Kelvin Tan added, “I think everyone can have an intercultural relationship if they’re willing to have the patience to work things out. Having a mind open to change and the ability to see past yourself allows this kind of relationship to grow. As long as you really set your goal to be learning about the other person, that’s when the relation- ship will work well.”
 
Reid said, “One of the best things about our relationship is it’s kind of a challenge that gets me more interested and curious. The extra effort I put into this relationship allows me to fall in love with his culture and how it has shaped him into who he is today. Language can be hard in the relationship. Jones understands everything I say since I always speak English, but sometimes when he speaks Samoan to his friends, that’s where the challenge is. It doesn’t make me angry, but it sometimes makes me feel like I’m missing out on something. On the other hand, it adds a fun challenge to our relationship since we’re constantly running into differences in the way we communicate.”
 
Canadian Vanessa Hillman, a sophomore music major and de- scendant from an interracial and intercultural marriage, explained, “I am proud of both cultures I grew up in. But one of the hardest things about it was that I feel like I didn’t know everything about either culture since I was really a mix of both. My whole life I felt like I had to prove that I was Filipino and white at the same time. I know that I am both, but I feel like everyone sees me as neither Filipino or Caucasian.”
Date Published: 
Thursday, February 9, 2017
Last Edited: 
Thursday, February 9, 2017