The Importance of Willingness in Learning Culture From Three Ethnicities Background

Updated: May 29



Hello, my name is Dwi, a mother of one child and currently lives in Baku, Azerbaijan. I reside here since I follow my husband to his workplace. I will share briefly about my cross-cultural marriage and other things related to that. The world multicultural and multiethnic are not new words for me due to I was born from a cross-cultural family also. My father is Chinese and my mother is Balinese. It is such a great combination and it inspired me, so now I married a Bataknese guy. I personally think an interethnic relationship is really fantastic with a lot of challenges, benefits, and barriers. So let's talk more details about my cross-cultural marriage experience.


THE BARRIERS

1. Ethnicity Custom

As some people know, in Batak’s ethnicity they have unique rules, most of them must have spouses from the same ethnic too, so let's say my husband has marga or family name, so he must marry his boru tulang or daughter from his uncle from his mother side. It is the ideal culture, so he cannot marry a girl who has the same family name as him or her family name relations.

So, how about me which is born from Chinese-Balinese who also has a family name but did not have a Bataknese family name. That is the first barrier a long time ago when I first met my husband.

I still remember when I started to fall in love with him but I was not confident to receive his confession to become his girlfriend due to the family surname barrier. I was 23 years old at that time and I did not want to waste my time to date a 'random' guy. If he seriously wanted me to become his girlfriend, so the next step is marriage. That was why I also think about those things. But, that barrier we can deal with blessing from our God, open-mindedness from my father and mother in law, and also my husband’s consistency to make me become his wife. We continuing our relationship and avoid that barrier with some cultural techniques, which made me get the Bataknese family name. The rule is I am adopted as a child from his uncle and I get a family name after that Marriage ceremony in the Bataknese tradition held.


2. Language

In every Indonesia’s region has a different language to talk to their relatives. Despite Bahasa Indonesia as the main language, they feel more comfortable to speak out with their ethnicity language. I grew up in Bali and Java, so I know Balinese and Javanese languages well. Since I married to a Bataknese man, I have no clue. I did not know anything about their language, although I have some Bataknese friends. It is still like a new speech for me if they talk in Bataknese language. Definitely, that is my barrier to this relationship. Even though my father, mother, sister, brother in law and the other relatives talk to me in Bahasa Indonesia, there are some situations they will use their language. One thing that I remember was in our wedding ceremony, there was an agenda named mangulosi where some of the relatives give us a unique fabric which is called as Ulos. Before mangulosi, they will stand up in front of us and give us some life advice in the Bataknese language. I definitely did not understand everything that they said. Hahaha. And at that time, there was not much time for my husband to translate it to me.

That is also my barrier, but whatever they said at that time, I believe it must be a good thing for us and I really appreciate everything with smiles and nods as the signs of understanding.

THE CHALLENGES

1. Understanding About Many of Pedigree and Cultural Ceremony

Currently, in my five years of marriage, I still learn a lot of things about the family tree and the ethnicity custom. From wedding tradition ceremony, adoption event, childbirth celebration event, until the funeral. I learn all of those by doing through joining the events. Everything just flows like water in the river when I follow the guidance. That is always challenging for me but it always makes me curious about everything.


2. We Got Married Not Just About Us But Also About Them

We become together not just to unite both of us, but also to unite our whole family. So, it is also a challenge for me and my husband. We must blend in with each other's family members. Nothing can happen without understanding. Therefore, I must understand his family culture as he also must understand my family culture. That is the key point.


3. Language is Also a Challenge

I definitely learn and understand the language better for now. Even though I am still not completely fluent to speak up, but I am still learning the Bataknese language for my child in the future. Maybe they will not use it at all, but they must know their language ethnicity.


THE ADVANTAGES

1. Descendant

My next generation will have something plus, maybe on his/her face, characteristic, and their intelligence.


2. New Knowledge About Other Culture

We learn something new like a newborn about our spouse culture and it will be a never-ending lesson since we cannot study one or two years for that. It is impossible to do that rapidly. I also love to learn about something from my new last name. Eventually, this is one of the advantages if we marry someone from different ethnicity.


3. 'Kill Two Birds With One Stone'

Since we are Christian, What I like the most is once Christmas and New Year time come, we have two places to visit every end of the year. The first place is Sumatera and the second one is Bali. It means we visit our family and go for a holiday in tourist areas. For me, that is such a good life and I thank God for that. Everything is extremely awesome for me, as I believe also for the other interethnic couples. We will have a lot of new experience which we do not really expect before. Year by year, I always give many thanks to God due to I am always blessed with my new family, especially in a different culture. That is the small thing could I share with you and thank you for reading my story.

The key which I hold is always understanding, make good communication not just with your spouse but also with the whole family, and love and accept each other. It will create a peaceful and wonderful in our marriage life.

Written by: Dwi Megah Purnamasari, 29, Indonesia

Instagram: @dwimegah | Facebook: Dwi Megah Purnamasari | Email: dwimegahps@gmail.com

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