I was born and have lived almost my entire life in Australia. My parents immigrated from America a few years before I was born, and are a pretty standard caucasian mix (French, German, Irish, English, Scottish, etc). I consider myself an Australian, pure and simple.
I think, because Australia is a country that is that much 'newer' (in terms of the caucasian/european population), almost everybody here is 'from' somewhere else. The most anyone can go back as an 'Australian' is three or four generations at most.
Using my school friends as an example (a bunch of 12 of us), there are a maximum of 3 parents that were born here in Australia. I'm not even sure about two of them. The other 21 were all born overseas and have moved here either before or after having children. Naturally, that's not a cross-section of the entire population, but I can say clearly that a vast, vast majority were either born overseas, or were born into a newly-immigrated family.
As you can see, nobody here is really, truly 'Australian', in the sense that someone might call themselves 'Italian' or 'Irish'. And yet, at the same time, everybody is absolutely Australian, simply because they choose to be.
I think the 'identity' of an 'Australian' is much more flexible and undetermined than even an 'American' or 'Canadian', despite both being new-ish, immigrant-heavy countries.
Still, the stereotypical Australian is actually an image I'm quite proud of... Yes, we have issues like any other country on the planet, but to be perfectly honest, I love love love the fact that Aussies are seen by most others as lovable larrikins - friendly and down to earth and just generally good people. You would not believe how often I hear 'I've always wanted to go to Australia!!' or 'I love Australians!' when I'm overseas. It makes me all warm and glowy.
And if anything, when going overseas, I can't help myself, but I try to conform to stereotype, to be 'more Australian' than I naturally am. It is actually beyond amusing to tell someone to 'Oi, bring a plate, we're gonna do a barbie on Rotto this arvo, so don't forget your bathers. I'll have the ute and an esky - I think Gazza is doing spuds, vegies and icy poles for the kids. Oh, and you didn't take off with my bloody trackie daks, didja?' and watch them try and decipher it.
But the mix of ethnicities and cultures is wonderful, and as a result, the rest of the world is that much more familiar, when I do get the chance to venture out. Some examples of the diversity I come across - some of my bestest best friends are of asian heritage, and more than a few times I have been the only caucasian in a room where I happen to be. I see many girls dressed in the full muslim hijab walking through the corridors of my faculty, chatting enthusiastically with a friend, who may or may not be dressed similarly. I have coffee with two girls from Switzerland and Sweden every week. It is common to speak to someone and have them respond to you with an accent, and not uncommon to pass by people who are conversing in another language altogether. It delights me when I hear little children jabbering away in another language.
This is a 'global culture' - very few people here only know their way of life and nothing else. And I think that can only be a good thing.
P.M. me with your thoughts, CC, I'd really love to hear them. If you're uncomfortable with that though, its ok.
I know a lot of jewish kids who really like being jewish and the jewish culture, even if they are really atheist or agnostic. They love the parties and get-togethers and everything, and a good friend of mine says he does define himself by jewish culture to some extent and he loves talking about it. I've met others who hated the jewish culture and the other jewish kids, too, but I can't remember why...
Which raises another interesting thing, how does it effect people to be born into a culture they will grow to strongly dislike, such was the case with the two jewish girls I mentioned earlier who said they couldn't stand the jewish culture.
Imagine you're an ethnic/religious minority. You're allowed to exist, but you have to wear a special yellow star, live in certain parts of town and work doing certain things. Your ethnicity, religion and features are stereotyped and ridiculed. Then one day all of your friends and relatives are gathered up and put into special camps; you never see most of them again. Perhaps you're also sent to the camps.
Now imagine you've somehow survived this horror and come to America. You try your hardest to fit in. You change your surname so it sounds more like other American names and you give your children mainstream names. You give up the old ways.
Or you might go the other way - you feel proud of your ethnicity and heritage and do everything you can to preserve and protect it. You give your children ethnic names. You send your kids to special schools that teach that way of life and sanctify it. It is the center of your life.
There's tension between the first way and the second. Having parents who give you little insight into your heritage can make you feel there was something wrong with it. And being steeped in it to the point of feeling different from almost every other American kid can make you resent it.
This is the identity crisis/dilemma many American Jews feel. How much is too much? How little is too little? The legacy of post-Holocaust Judaism sometimes results in people hating their culture of origin.
My children have grown up in an open, supportive community which embraces diversity. They have friends who are Jewish, Asian, Iranian, African-American, etc. They aren't immersed in their religious community to the point of experiencing nothing else, but are comfortable with their Jewish heritage.
We celebrate Jewish holidays, Asian holidays, American holidays and some Christian ones with friends and relatives. I feel lucky we live in the Bay Area, where there's diversity and tolerance and where my family and I can feel proud of our heritage(s).