Cultural experiences influence individual's world perspective

Emily Johnson’s travels up north are shaping her views of the world.


Junior Emily Johnson embraces Canadian culture during annual trips to Manitoulin Island.

The United States has earned its name as the Melting Pot. Its blend of cultures, races, and religion set the country apart from the rest of the world, but diversity doesn’t only take the form of non-white, non-Christian, and non-male citizens. Sometimes an individual’s experiences and background can be just as impactful.

Emily Johnson, 16, grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, attending Northrop High School. In the broad spectrum of things, her life as a caucasian female living in the midwest may not contribute much to the Melting Pot, but beyond the city limits of Fort Wayne, Johnson’s roots trace back to Manitoulin Island, Canada.

Growing up, Johnson took annual trips to her grandmother’s house in Canada. These trips consisted of swimming in the lake and admiring the scenery, but Johnson said her family vacations were not just fun getaways but also a chance to experience a culture different from her own.

“Canada is beautiful,” Johnson said. “When we drive to Manitoulin we pass these gigantic sandstone cliffs on both sides of us and it’s just beautiful. (I enjoy) swimming with my family, going to the chocolate store, and we used to play tag in this pine tree maze. My parents and aunts would be ‘it’ and my cousins and sister and I would be running from them.”

According to Verge Magazine, culture shock can be overwhelming to a traveler, but ultimately can open their eyes to the wold around them and see that people from different places aren’t so different from them.

Growing up around Canadians and Americans, Johnson said she found many of the stereotypes surrounding both groups are false.

“Honestly they look a lot alike,” Johnson said. “There are times when I hear the stereotypes all the time like everybody goes ‘eh’ all the time and I’m like ‘that is incredibly not true.’ They’re basically Americans with different money.”

As years pass by, Johnson’s annual trips to our northern neighbors haven’t been the same. The older they get, the less family members journey to the island for vacation. While her favorite childhood memories are becoming more and more distant, Johnson said the flaky butter tarts and crisp air that Canada has to offer will continue to be something she keeps close to her heart.

“There would be a few times when I would go up with my aunt and cousins and the rest of my family wouldn’t make it up at all that year,” Johnson said. “I  definitely haven’t been able to go as much as I used to, but Canada is definitely my favorite childhood memory.”