Cybele On Celebrating her Identity & Culture

Before arriving to Canada, Cybele grew up near the capital of Dhaka, in the small town of the Narayanganj. She lived in a wholesome community with her mother, sister and father. Her mother was a teacher at an international Canadian school, where Cybele, and her sister Ria both attended. Cybele compares the community that she grew up in similar to Saint John- a wholesome area, family oriented and has a strong community vibe.

Seeking New Adventure

Deciding to leave Bangladesh was a difficult but exciting decision for Cybele. With getting older, there were new options for exploration and continuing her education abroad. At first, Singapore or Germany struck her as being two great options: both being in large metropolitan cities, great education programs & lots of adventure. So what exactly sparked Cybele’s interest to come to Saint John? A family friend had moved to Saint John years before and had mentioned the small town atmosphere and coziness that Saint John had to offer. An English speaking country, a friend, and an up and coming small town were all appealing for Cybele. So, with a strong desire for new experiences and a childhood family friend, her sights were set on coming to the East Coast.

Hello, Saint John!

Just a few weeks before starting Grade 11, Cybele first arrived in Saint John with her father. Welcomed by her family friends, Cybele moved in and settled. This was to be the beginning of several years of trips between her new country & former country. As an international student in Canada, Cybele would return to Bangladesh most summers where the rest of her family continued to live at the time. It wasn’t until she was studying at the University of Mount Allison that her mother and sister decided to reunite and move to New Brunswick as well.

On Incorporating Traditions into Daily Life

Whether it is through food, language, craft, there is always a way to connect with culture. For Cybele, it was in looking for a sense of home within the community that she reconnected to her culture. Being disconnected from her roots for a few years was extremely difficult. However, the local Hindu community gatherings, celebrations and traditions have become something special to Cybele and her family. These have provided the comforts and connections to culture that she longed for. “When you move somewhere , you look for connections that remind you of home. Every now and then, we get together and have Bangladesh gatherings where we cook, have potlucks, there is always an excuse to get together,” says Cybele

Cybele spoke to how the South Asian community is continuing to have a bigger presence in Saint John by celebrating the festival of color and lights among other religious celebrations. “[The South Asian community in] Saint John is hosting bigger events and having a larger presence,” she says encouragingly.

Jewelry Symbolism & Culture

On the Saree: the Saree is a traditional woman’s clothing in Bangladesh for day-to-day wear. “When I was back home I wouldn’t always where them, It’s when I came here I started wearing them, it’s like a sense of home,” she remarks. For Cybele and, within her rich cultural heritage, there is always an occasion to dress up and celebrate. A big part of representing her culture and identify is through clothing and jewelry. “I love wearing jewelry. All of the earrings have a story, it’s a like token that you wear,” she says. Where ever Cybele goes, you can always find her adorned by a set of beautiful earrings which most likely have significant story behind them.

Community & Culture

Cybele spoke excitedly to how there are more occasions to celebrate and participate in culture in Saint John lately. Instead of principally celebrating with family and friends at home, the Indian community is taking their festivities public as they did by hosting the festival of color and lights this year. “Saint John is hosting bigger events and having a larger presence,” she remarks.

Of course there are the people and the relationships I miss, but by celebrating my roots you can find the comfort of home. It is empowering to have such a strong knit group of family & friends in a new place, that’s the great thing about Saint John.

Even though moving to another country can be difficult, Cybele has always kept the mindset that “home is home”. It is important to know that just because you’re adapting a new culture, it doesn’t mean you need to let go of the old. Balancing both worlds is important in maintaining your identity and the connection to who you are.

We love all of Cybele’s beautiful jewelry tokens! Interested in buying unique multicultural crafts? Visit our Sankara Craft Marketplace.

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