My Family: Cross Culture Living at Home

By Anabela Mok 2022-08-08 09:48:23

As a Third Culture Kid (and now an adult) keeping culture alive was an important part of my childhood. Coming from a mixed heritage family and living abroad, home was the epicentre where our different cultures came alive. Not only through language but through understanding and celebrating cultural history.




Keeping tradition alive by food is one of the things we did growing up. My mother is half Portuguese and half Chinese, so at home it is common to drink Chinese soup served with a Bacalao dish. Now with my own multicultural family, we also continue this custom.


My little girl who is a hybrid of three cultures gets to enjoy my own childhood Portuguese favourite dishes, classic Chinese soups and Indian rice dishes like biryani. We also use spices at home like cumin and masala to get her acquainted with the flavours.




Home is a mixed melting pot of languages. Cantonese, Mandarin and English are all used depending on who we speak to. Whether it is my grandmother, who I communicated with in Cantonese, my mother who until university I spoke to in English and attending school which was Mandarin. But culture identification is goes beyond language.


I remember when I was growing up, my grandmother would send me VHS tapes of my favourite cartoons in Cantonese. We also watched movies in Mandarin. My mother’s Portuguese was not good enough to teach me, but through Fado music I gained exposure to the language and nothing feels more homey to me than listening to the mellow lyrics.


For my girl, we keep all the languages alive. With mobile technology, we do calls to my husband’s home in his native dialect. So she picks up on the words. We keep English and Mandarin as our language at home. We are also learning Portuguese, so whether we decide to leave China, we know she is solid in her varied cultural upbringings.




Growing up in different countries, we follow traditions by celebrating the Catholic holidays as well as the traditional Chinese ones. Chinese New Year was big in our house and writing chun lian is part of our family’s holiday activities, even now.


Of course with our girl, we have an additional Indian culture to observe. We can always do better to celebrate each culture, which is also why it is very valuable to find like-minded families to share the cultures with. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.