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The Importance Of Preserving Cultural Heritage

  • Category Culture
  • Subcategory World Cultures
  • Topic Tradition

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Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. Cultural heritage includes tangible culture (such as buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, and artifacts). It also includes intangible culture traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts intangible culture (such as folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge), and natural heritage (including culturally significant landscapes, biodiversity). With the aim of protecting the world’s most valuable cultural treasures World Heritage Convention was adopted in 1972. There are now a total of 1052 World Heritage sites around the world in 165 countries including cultural sites of historical or anthropological value. But some of those sites are at risk. Being listed at a World Heritage site can bring attention and made governments to protect those areas but the publicity can cause damage by the overflow of tourists which will lead to the further degradation. The preservation of cultural and historical heritage has become such a serious issue that even international organizations have taken a commitment to carry out special operations to prevent its devastation which can result in not only the loss of nation’s identity, but also affects the development of cultural tourism.

For analyzing the problems of the protection of cultural heritage first of all we should clarify what to understand by saying cultural heritage. Culture encompasses a nation’s way of living and thinking and way of creating which are typical only for that society. Way of living is usually formed by firstly religion, then according to it, traditions, customs, special rituals and holidays appear. Take example of a traditional wedding in Armenia. The culture of weddings there differs greatly from weddings in other cultures because of our religion and traditions. Way of thinking means how the part of a particular culture perceives the world, how he treats the changes that occur in the world, how he acts towards other cultures that are entirely different from them. For showing the contrast between the ways of thinking of a nations’ cultures we can mention Armenians that based on historical issues with that nation, have a negative view about someone Turkish without knowing him personally, only depending on the nation. And take A Russian that will form his opinion about a Turkish by only socializing with him. These two ways that are strongly connected to each other are essential in the formation of a culture peculiar to a nation. Culture is identification, a tool through which the nation is recognized globally. That’s one of the main reasons why we should preserve our cultural and national peculiarities. All these things mentioned that culture embodies in itself have deep roots formed during thousands of ages, eventually forming the heritage. But they are not the only parts of cultural heritage that should be protected.

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The third part of cultural heritage that needs preservation is the way of creating. This refers to every sphere that requires creating mind. From music to painting, from dance to literature, from architecture to design everything is connected with the creation of something that has cultural value that is born through national peculiarities. So, the folk music, traditional dances, paintings of national figures, ancient architectural buildings are constituent parts of historical heritage as through them the history was passed through the flaw of years. Old buildings such as monuments and memorials, churches and temples, cathedrals and monasteries are the parts of nation’s historical heritage. Humans should understand their value and try to protect them from any harm. However, it is not usually as easy as it sounds. Sometimes heritage is damaged because of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, etc. Historical heritage mostly gets damaged in wars and in times of conflicts. It is reported that 55 World Heritage sites are listed as being in danger, some of them due to conflict. All six of Syria’s UNESCO’S World Heritage sites have been damaged or destroyed in the war. It means that the world has lost six of its significant sites that will hardly be recovered ever. Even though the preservation of historical monuments and sites seems challenging, we all can take part in safeguarding our values. One of the ways we can promote the conservation of our historical culture is to join in UNESCO volunteering programs or simply by making people aware of the importance of preserving these invaluable sites by sharing videos or informative materials through social networking sites. To be kept alive, cultural heritage must remain relevant to a culture and be regularly practiced and learned within communities and between generations.

As Professor Richard Stamps has stated heritage is a bond to our past. Our ancestors made huge efforts in creating those valuable things. They weren’t made just in one day. Those historical values created thousands of years ago have felt the breath of ages passing by. Our previous generations also have tried to preserve them and thanks to them now we have many unique samples of different civilizations and thanks to them now we can have an idea for example how people lived thousands of ages ago, what people read in middle ages, where these peoples went to pray and so on. It is easy to destroy all these values just in a moment but we should try first of all to save them. It is important not only for our future generations, but it also shows our respect towards our ancestors and their great efforts. When natural disasters happen for example, when a fire breaks out in a forest, the forest will be recovered later. But it is not the same with our heritage, if they are destroyed, they are gone forever, even if it is regained, it loses its uniqueness as the creator is not same. As the professor compares, it is like ripping the pages out of the history book. When we preserve our heritage we have the book fully, we have introduction then body of the text and in the end the conclusion. When we destroy part of our heritage, the book loses its structure. So, when as a result of our unwatchful actions, a part of our heritage gets damaged, it gets revealed that we refuse our past as something unneeded and unwanted. The historical heritage that is a part of our heritage and culture is not supposed to be a popular spot so that to be protected. We should take care of every single sample that will remind us about ancient civilizations.

Probably everybody has heard about the fire that broke out beneath the roof of Notre Dame de Paris in Paris in 2019.This was a breaking terrifying news for the whole world. It was regretful to hear that one of the greatest cathedrals of all times was at the edge of devastation. Fortunately attempts to shut down the fire and save the cathedral were successful. But imagine if it the fire broke out in an unknown place, far from the human eyes. We would definitely lose a part of heritage; we would lose the proof of human activity there. We only learn about the sites that are popular among tourists or are recognized internationally. But alongside with so said sites in demand, the sites that are listed at World Heritage Sites list and are much more popular among tourists; there are very many ancient buildings, historical places and monuments that are in danger at the present time. Those unknown sites are also of great value. These sites are also a significant part of our culture, a part of a nation, a result of a human existence. They also need protection and attention, need to be visited, heard and taken care of. The fire of Notre Dame is only a remarkable sample that the mankind is not careful about the environment which includes cultural and historical sites as well. Consequently, here appears one huge why, why we are not conscious about the heritage reached us through ages. This problem has appeared because we are not aware of the significance of conservation of our heritage. One of the solutions of the problem can be involving local people and communities to take part in the preservation process. As an example we can mention that in 2017 The EU has supported a number of initiatives directed at the preservation and promotion of cultural legacies, and has helped local communities find ways to efficiently use local cultural heritage resources for the development of cities, towns and other settlements in Armenia.In the frame of one of the programs which was aimed at making provinces more recognizable by introducing national heritage to the younger generation, camps were organized and children received practical and theoretical information, they saw the monument with their own eyes, also they cleaned the area and learned how to look after the monuments. These children will be the source of spreading this information among their peers and the impact of the program will be extended. Another activity that was organized was locals creating handmade souvenirs, blankets and cases with Armenian patterns and selling them to tourists. Thanks to this program the bond with tourists and the locals will get tighter.

Another way of preserving the cultural- historical heritage is to develop sustainable tourism in the country. In the 21st century tourism has become a major tool for many countries to develop their economies. It has gotten a highly profitable branch of industry as more and more people aspire to explore the world, see its unique places, and get acquainted with the heritage we got thanks to our ancestors. This is one of the main reasons why tourism has a positive effect on the country and its development but there is another side of the coin. Tourism can have a harmful effect due to the stream of unaccustomed visitors that cause damage without realizing the seriousness of their actions. For the solution of this problem nowadays the concept of sustainable/responsible tourism is spread. That is learning to respect the country we visit wholly with its people, environment, culture, customs and traditions. This kind of tourism will not only develop the country’s economy through tourism but also promote the idea of cultural and historical heritage preservation as responsible tourists are aware of its importance. Sustainable tourism contributes to the concept that national identity, the features that differentiates one nation from another, are to be kept and respected. This is a key for developing cultural tourism in a country as tourists are interested in countries with rich history and culture. For example we can mention Armenia where cultural tourism is the most developed branch of tourism thanks to historical and ancient places spread all over country’s territory, till now preserved traditions and customs that are only typical for them. Tourist visit Armenia because people here safeguard their past and are proud to introduce them to others. And the image would be different if they would have nothing distinguishing them from other nations. So, we can see that culture is something specific; it forms the nation’s image, so as long as the culture is preserved, the nation is alive.

The preservation of cultural – historical heritage is a serious issue nowadays. First of all we should understand what culture is and what it encompasses. Culture is composed of tangible and intangible cultures that include nation’s history, religion, traditions, etc. All these things define the nation, in other words they form the nation’s identity. Culture is what makes one nation different from others. So, it is essential to preserve the culture .On one hand by devastating the heritage of historical and cultural value we endanger the chances to develop a cultural tourism in the country as a nation without any distinguishing feature will arose no interest among tourists. On the other hand we underestimate our ancestors ‘great efforts to leave for us a valuable heritage. Heritage is something that connects the past with the present. It carries the information about our previous generations. So, we should be responsible towards our cultural heritage so as to pass it to our future generations. There are several ways for making people aware of the importance of preserving cultural and historical heritage. One of the ways is developing sustainable or responsible tourism in countries which will benefit the heritage conservation as sometimes the uptick in tourism to the sites brings to the further degradation. Another way to safeguard the heritage is to involve local communities in that process. Currently, international organizations organize projects for overcoming this issue. They cooperate with governments and carry out operations together with locals. There are examples which proved that thanks to those projects the idea of cultural- historical heritage preservation gets more extended and encouraged. Cultural-historical heritage is essential for the nation to exist. So it is left for us only to respect cultures and to save them for future generations.

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Cultural Identity Essay

27 August, 2020

12 minutes read

Author:  Elizabeth Brown

No matter where you study, composing essays of any type and complexity is a critical component in any studying program. Most likely, you have already been assigned the task to write a cultural identity essay, which is an essay that has to do a lot with your personality and cultural background. In essence, writing a cultural identity essay is fundamental for providing the reader with an understanding of who you are and which outlook you have. This may include the topics of religion, traditions, ethnicity, race, and so on. So, what shall you do to compose a winning cultural identity essay?

Cultural Identity

Cultural Identity Paper: Definitions, Goals & Topics 

cultural identity essay example

Before starting off with a cultural identity essay, it is fundamental to uncover what is particular about this type of paper. First and foremost, it will be rather logical to begin with giving a general and straightforward definition of a cultural identity essay. In essence, cultural identity essay implies outlining the role of the culture in defining your outlook, shaping your personality, points of view regarding a multitude of matters, and forming your qualities and beliefs. Given a simpler definition, a cultural identity essay requires you to write about how culture has influenced your personality and yourself in general. So in this kind of essay you as a narrator need to give an understanding of who you are, which strengths you have, and what your solid life position is.

Yet, the goal of a cultural identity essay is not strictly limited to describing who you are and merely outlining your biography. Instead, this type of essay pursues specific objectives, achieving which is a perfect indicator of how high-quality your essay is. Initially, the primary goal implies outlining your cultural focus and why it makes you peculiar. For instance, if you are a french adolescent living in Canada, you may describe what is so special about it: traditions of the community, beliefs, opinions, approaches. Basically, you may talk about the principles of the society as well as its beliefs that made you become the person you are today.

So far, cultural identity is a rather broad topic, so you will likely have a multitude of fascinating ideas for your paper. For instance, some of the most attention-grabbing topics for a personal cultural identity essay are:

  • Memorable traditions of your community
  • A cultural event that has influenced your personality 
  • Influential people in your community
  • Locations and places that tell a lot about your culture and identity

Cultural Identity Essay Structure

As you might have already guessed, composing an essay on cultural identity might turn out to be fascinating but somewhat challenging. Even though the spectrum of topics is rather broad, the question of how to create the most appropriate and appealing structure remains open.

Like any other kind of an academic essay, a cultural identity essay must compose of three parts: introduction, body, and concluding remarks. Let’s take a more detailed look at each of the components:

Introduction 

Starting to write an essay is most likely one of the most time-consuming and mind-challenging procedures. Therefore, you can postpone writing your introduction and approach it right after you finish body paragraphs. Nevertheless, you should think of a suitable topic as well as come up with an explicit thesis. At the beginning of the introduction section, give some hints regarding the matter you are going to discuss. You have to mention your thesis statement after you have briefly guided the reader through the topic. You can also think of indicating some vital information about yourself, which is, of course, relevant to the topic you selected.

Your main body should reveal your ideas and arguments. Most likely, it will consist of 3-5 paragraphs that are more or less equal in size. What you have to keep in mind to compose a sound ‘my cultural identity essay’ is the argumentation. In particular, always remember to reveal an argument and back it up with evidence in each body paragraph. And, of course, try to stick to the topic and make sure that you answer the overall question that you stated in your topic. Besides, always keep your thesis statement in mind: make sure that none of its components is left without your attention and argumentation.

Conclusion 

Finally, after you are all finished with body paragraphs and introduction, briefly summarize all the points in your final remarks section. Paraphrase what you have already revealed in the main body, and make sure you logically lead the reader to the overall argument. Indicate your cultural identity once again and draw a bottom line regarding how your culture has influenced your personality.

Best Tips For Writing Cultural Identity Essay

Writing a ‘cultural identity essay about myself’ might be somewhat challenging at first. However, you will no longer struggle if you take a couple of plain tips into consideration. Following the tips below will give you some sound and reasonable cultural identity essay ideas as well as make the writing process much more pleasant:

  • Start off by creating an outline. The reason why most students struggle with creating a cultural identity essay lies behind a weak structure. The best way to organize your ideas and let them flow logically is to come up with a helpful outline. Having a reference to build on is incredibly useful, and it allows your essay to look polished.
  • Remember to write about yourself. The task of a cultural identity essay implies not focusing on your culture per se, but to talk about how it shaped your personality. So, switch your focus to describing who you are and what your attitudes and positions are. 
  • Think of the most fundamental cultural aspects. Needless to say, you first need to come up with a couple of ideas to be based upon in your paper. So, brainstorm all the possible ideas and try to decide which of them deserve the most attention. In essence, try to determine which of the aspects affected your personality the most.
  • Edit and proofread before submitting your paper. Of course, the content and the coherence of your essay’s structure play a crucial role. But the grammatical correctness matters a lot too. Even if you are a native speaker, you may still make accidental errors in the text. To avoid the situation when unintentional mistakes spoil the impression from your essay, always double check your cultural identity essay. 

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Follow YES! For Teachers

Nine brilliant student essays on honoring your roots.

Read winning essays from our fall 2019 student writing contest.

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For the fall 2019 student writing contest, we invited students to read the YES! article “ Native and European—How Do I Honor All Parts of Myself? ” by Kayla DeVault. Like the author, students reflected on their heritage and how connected they felt to different parts of their identities. Students then wrote about their heritage, family stories, how they honor their identities, and more.

The Winners

From the hundreds of essays written, these nine were chosen as winners. Be sure to read the author’s response to the essay winners, literary gems and clever titles that caught our eye, and even more essays on identity in our Gallery of Voices.

Middle School Winner: Susanna Audi

High School Winner: Keon Tindle

High School Winner: Cherry Guo

University Winner: Madison Greene

Powerful Voice: Mariela Alschuler

Powerful Voice: Reese Martin

Powerful Voice: Mia De Haan

Powerful Voice: Laura Delgado

Powerful Voice: Rowan Burba

From the Author, Kayla DeVault: Response to All Student Writers and Essay Winners

Gallery of voices: more essays on identity, literary gems, titles we loved, middle school winner.

Susanna Audi

Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Bronx, N.Y.

Susanna Audi

BRAZIL: MY HEART’S HOME

Saudades. No word in the English language sums up the meaning of this Portuguese term: a deep feeling of longing that makes your heart ache and pound like a drum inside your chest. I feel saudades for Brazil, its unique culture, and my Brazilian family. When I’m in my second home, Bahia, Brazil, I’m a butterfly emerging from its cocoon—colorful, radiant, and ready to explore the world. I see coconut trees waving at the turquoise waves that are clear as glass. I smell the familiar scent of burning incense. I hear the rhythm of samba on hand-beaten drums, and I feel my grandma’s delicate fingers rub my back as I savor the mouth-watering taste of freshly made doce de leite .  Although I’m here for only two precious weeks a year, I feel a magnetic connection to my father’s homeland, my heart’s home.

My grandfather or vovô , Evandro, was born in Brazil to a family who had immigrated from Lebanon and was struggling to make ends meet. His parents couldn’t afford to send him to college, so he remained at home and sold encyclopedias door-to-door. My vovô eventually started a small motorcycle parts company that grew so much that he was able to send my father to the U.S. at age sixteen. My father worked hard in school, overcoming language barriers and homesickness. Even though he has lived in America for most of his life, he has always cherished his Brazilian roots. 

I’ve been raised with my father’s native language, foods, and customs. At home, I bake Brazilian snacks, such as the traditional cheese bread, pão de queijo , which is crunchy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. My family indulges in the same sweet treats that my father would sneak from the cupboard as a child. Two relaxing customs we share are listening to Brazilian music while we eat breakfast on weekends and having conversations in Portuguese during meals. These parts of my upbringing bring diversity and flavor to my identity. 

Living in the U.S. makes me feel isolated from my Brazilian family and even more distant from Brazilian culture. It’s hard to maintain both American and Brazilian lifestyles since they are so different. In Brazil, there are no strangers; we treat everybody like family, regardless if that person works at the local shoe store or the diner. We embrace each other with loving hugs and exchange kisses on the cheeks whenever we meet. In the U.S., people prefer to shake hands. Another difference is that I never come out of Starbucks in New York with a new friend. How could I when most people sit with their eyes glued to their laptop screens? Life seems so rushed. To me, Brazilians are all about friendships, family, and enjoying life. They are much more relaxed, compared to the stressed and materialistic average American. 

As Kayla DeVault says in her YES! article “Native and European—How Do I Honor All Parts of Myself,” “It doesn’t matter how many pieces make up my whole: rather, it’s my relationship with those pieces that matters—and that I must maintain.”  I often ask myself if I can be both American and Brazilian. Do I have to choose one culture over the other? I realize that I shouldn’t think of them as two different cultures; instead, I should think of them as two important, coexisting parts of my identity. Indeed, I feel very lucky for the full and flavorful life I have as a Brazilian American. 

Susanna Audi is an eighth-grader who lives in the suburbs of New York. Susanna loves painting with watercolors, cooking Brazilian snacks, and playing the cello. On weekends, she enjoys babysitting and plays several sports including lacrosse, soccer, and basketball. Susanna would love to start her own creative design business someday. 

High School Winner

Keon Tindle

Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Mo.

Keon Tindle

Walking Through the Forest of Culture

What are my roots? To most people, my roots only go as far as the eye can see. In a world where categorization and prejudice run rampant, the constant reminder is that I am Black. My past is a living juxtaposition: my father’s father is a descendant of the enslaved and oppressed and his wife’s forefathers held the whips and tightened the chains. Luckily for me, racial hatred turned to love. A passion that burned brighter than any cross, a love purer than any poison. This is the past I know so well. From the slave ship to the heart of Saint Louis, my roots aren’t very long, but they are deeply entrenched in Amerikkkan history.

This country was made off of the backs of my brothers and sisters, many of whom have gone unrecognized in the grand scheme of things. From a young age, White children are told stories of heroes—explorers, politicians, freedom fighters, and settlers whose sweat and determination tamed the animalistic lands of America. They’re given hope and power through their past because when they look in the mirror they see these heroes. But what about me? My stories are conveniently left out of the textbooks; I have never been the son of a king or a powerful African leader, just expensive cargo to be bought and sold to the highest bidder. It seems we, as a people, never truly left the ship.

Even now, we’re chained to the whitewashed image of Black history. I can never truly experience the Black tradition because there are multiple perspectives. The truth is clouded and lost due to the lack of documentation and pervasive amount of fabrication. How am I supposed to connect to my heritage? America tells me to celebrate the strength of my ancestors, the strength of the slaves, to praise something they helped create. The Afrocentrics tell me to become one with the motherland, celebrate the culture I was pulled away from. However, native Africans make it clear I’ll never truly belong.

Even the honorable Elijah Muhammad tells me to keep my chin pointed to the clouds, to distrust the creation of Yakub, and to take my place among the rest of Allah’s children. Most people don’t have the luxury of “identifying with all of the pieces of [themselves],” as Kayla DeVault says in the YES! article “Native and European—How Do I Honor All Parts of Myself?” 

They’re forced to do research and to formulate their own ideas of who they are rather than follow the traditions of an elder. For some, their past works as a guide. A walk through life that has been refined over generations. Others, however, are forced to struggle through the dark maze of life. Hands dragging across the walls in an attempt to not lose their way. As a result, their minds create stories and artwork from every cut and scratch of the barriers’ surface. Gaining direction from the irrelevant, finding patterns in the illogical. 

So what are my roots? My roots are my branches, not where I come from but where this life will take me. The only constant is my outstretched arms pointed towards the light. A life based on the hope that my branches will sprout leaves that will fall and litter the path for the next generation.

Keon Tindle is unapologetically Black and embraces his African American background. Keon is an esports competitor, musician, and producer, and especially enjoys the craft of pairing history with hip-hop music. He is always ecstatic to dabble in new creative outlets and hopes to pursue a career in neuroscience research.

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Va.

Cherry Guo

Tying the Knot

The kitchen smells like onions and raw meat, neither unpleasant nor pleasant. Nainai’s house slippers slap against our kitchen floor as she bustles around, preparing fillings for zongzi: red bean paste, cooked peanuts, and marinated pork. I clap my pudgy hands together, delighted by the festivities. 

Nainai methodically folds the bamboo leaves into cones, fills them up with rice, and binds the zongzi together with string that she breaks between her teeth. I try to follow suit, but when I try to tie the zongzi together, half the rice spills out. Tired from my lack of progress, I abandon Nainai for my parents, who are setting up the mahjong table. 

After raising me to the age of ten, my grandparents returned to China. They dropped back into their lives like they had never left, like they hadn’t shaped my entire upbringing. Under their influence, my first language was not English, but Chinese. 

At school, my friends cajoled me into saying Chinese words for them and I did so reluctantly, the out-of-place syllables tasting strange on my palate. At home, I slowly stopped speaking Chinese, embarrassed by the way my tongue mangled English words when I spoke to classmates. One particular memory continually plagues me. “It’s Civil War, silly. Why do you pronounce “L” with an ‘R’?” Civil. Civil. Civil.

At dinner, my dad asked us to speak Chinese. I refused, defiantly asking my brother in English to pass the green beans. I began constructing false narratives around my silence. Why would I use my speech to celebrate a culture of foot binding and feudalism? In truth, I was afraid. I was afraid that when I opened my mouth to ask for the potatoes, I wouldn’t be able to conjure up the right words. I was afraid I would sound like a foreigner in my own home. If I refused to speak, I could pretend that my silence was a choice.

In Kayla DeVault’s YES! article “Native and European – How Do I Honor All Parts of Myself?” she insists that “Simply saying “I am this” isn’t enough. To truly honor my heritage, I found I must understand and participate in it.” And for the first time, I wonder if my silence has stolen my cultural identity. 

I decide to take it back.

Unlike DeVault, I have no means of travel. Instead, my reclamation starts with collecting phrases: a string of words from my dad when he speaks to Nainai over the phone, seven characters from two Chinese classmates walking down the hall, another couple of words from my younger sister’s Chinese cartoons. 

The summer before my senior year marks the eighth year of my grandparents’ return to China. Once again, I am in the kitchen, this time surrounded by my parents and siblings. The bamboo leaves and pot of rice sit in front of me. We all stand, looking at each other expectantly. No one knows how to make zongzi. We crowd around the iPad, consulting Google. Together, we learn how to shape the leaves and pack the rice down. 

The gap in knowledge bothers me. Does it still count as honoring a family tradition when I follow the directions given by a nameless pair of hands on YouTube rather than hearing Nainai’s voice in my mind? 

Instead of breaking the string with my teeth like Nainai had shown me, I use scissors to cut the string—like I had done with my ties to Chinese language and culture all those years ago. And now, I’m left with the severed string that I must hurriedly tie around the bamboo leaf before the rice falls out of my zongzi.

Cherry Guo is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia. Cherry rows for her school’s crew team and plays the viola in her school orchestra. She spends what little free time she has eating pretzel crisps and listening to podcasts about philosophy.

University Winner

Madison Greene

Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

Madison Greene

Carrying the Torch

I have been called a pizza bagel–the combination of a Catholic Italian and an Ashkenazi Jew. Over time, I have discovered the difficulty of discretely identifying the ratio of pizza to bagel. It is even more arduous when the pizza and the bagel have theologies that inherently contradict each other. Therefore, in a society that emphasizes fine lines and exact distinctions, my identity itself becomes a contradiction.  

In the winter, my family tops our Christmas tree with the Star of David. I’ve recited the Lord’s Prayer; I’ve prayed in Hebrew. I attended preschool at a church, and my brother was a preschooler in a synagogue. Every week at Sunday morning mass, my maternal family donates money to the collection basket during the offertory. My paternal family has donated authentic Holocaust photographs to a local Jewish heritage museum. Growing up, none of this was contradictory; in fact, it all seemed complementary. My Jewish and Catholic identities did not cancel each other out but rather merged together.

However, the compatibility of my Catholic-Jewish identities was in upheaval when I decided to become acquainted with the Jewish community on campus. While attending Hillel events, I felt insecure because I did not share many of the experiences and knowledge of other Jewish students. Despite this insecurity, I continued to participate — until a good friend of mine told me that I was not Jewish enough because of my Catholic mother. She also said that families like mine were responsible for the faltering of Jewish culture. I wanted my identity to be validated. Instead, it was rejected. I withdrew and avoided not only my Jewish identity but also my identity as a whole.

I soon realized that this friend and I look at my situation using different filters. My Catholic-Jewish identities have evolved into a codependent relationship, and I am entitled to unapologetically embrace and explore both aspects of my identity. I realized that even without my friend’s validation of my identity, I still exist just the same. Any discredit of my Catholic-Jewish identities does not eliminate my blended nature. So, after a few months of avoiding my Jewish identity, I chose to embrace my roots; I resumed participating in the Jewish community on campus, and I have not stopped since.

Kayla DeVault’s YES! article “Native and European – How Do I Honor All Parts of Myself?” describes the obligation to one’s ancestral chain. The best way to fulfill this duty is to fully dedicate oneself to understanding the traditions that accompany those cultural origins. In this generation, my mother’s Catholic-Italian maiden name has no men to carry it on to the next generation. It is difficult to trace my last name past the mid-1900s because my Jewish ancestors shortened our surname to make it sound less Semitic, to be less vulnerable to persecution. Given the progressive fading of my family’s surnames, how do I continue the legacies of both family lines?

On behalf of my ancestors and for the sake of the generations still to come, I feel obligated to blend and simultaneously honor my Jewish and Catholic heritage to ensure that both prevail. 

Now I know that whether I am sitting next to my Jewish father at my young cousin’s baptism, or whether I am sitting at the Passover Seder table with my mother’s Catholic parents, it is up to me to keep both flames of my ancestry burning bright. The least I can do is hold each family’s candle in my hands. Imagine the tremendous blaze I could create if I brought the flames of my two families together.

Madison Greene is a Communication Studies major at Kent State University. Madison is also pursuing a minor in Digital Media Production. She is currently the president of her sorority.

Powerful Voice Winner

Mariela Alschuler

cultural heritage essay english

Behind My Skin

My roots go deeper than the ground I stand on. My family is from all over the world with extended branches that reach over whole countries and vast oceans.

Though I am from these branches, sometimes I never see them. My Dominican roots are obvious when I go to my abuela’s house for holidays. My family dances to Spanish music. I fill my plate with platanos fritos and my favorite rice and beans. I feel like a Dominican American girl. Maybe it’s the food. Maybe it’s the music. Or maybe it’s just the way that my whole family—aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins— laugh and talk and banter in my grandparents’ small, beautiful apartment.

Even though I am blood to this family, I stick out like a sore thumb. I stick out for my broken Spanish, my light skin, my soft, high-pitched voice and how I do my hair. I feel like I don’t belong to my beautiful, colorful family, a disordered array of painted jars on a shelf.

If my Dominican family is like a disorganized and vibrant shelf of colors, then my European family is a neat and sparse one with just a hint of color. For Christmas in New York, there are dozens of us crammed in the small apartment. For Thanksgiving in Massachusetts, there are rarely more than twelve people in the grandiose, pristine house that looks like something out of House Beautiful . I adore my grandparent’s house. It is expansive and neatly painted white. After growing up in a small house on a school campus and visiting my other grandparents’ small apartment in New York, I thought that their house was the greatest thing in the world. I would race up the stairs, then slide down the banister. I would sip Grandma’s “fancy” gingerbread tea, loving the feeling of sophistication. There, I could forget about the struggles of my Dominican family. I was the granddaughter of a wealthy, Jewish, Massachusetts couple rather than the granddaughter of a working-class second-generation Dominican abuela and abuelo from the Bronx.  

I don’t fit in with my European family either. My dark skin and my wild hair don’t belong in this tidy family. In Massachusetts, the branches of my Dominican family, no matter how strong and extensive, are invisible. The same way my European roots are lost when I am in New York.

So what am I? For years I have asked myself this question. Wondering why I couldn’t have a simple garden of a family rather than the jungle that I easily get lost in. As Kayla DeVault says in her YES! article “Native and European—How can I honor all parts of myself?,” “Simply saying ‘I am this’ isn’t enough.” And it isn’t. My race, color, and ethnicity do not make up who I am. I am still a daughter. A sister. A cousin. A friend. My mixed identity does not make me less whole, less human. I may have lightly tanned skin and my lips may not form Spanish words neatly, but behind my skin is bright color and music. There is warm gingerbread tea and golden platanos fritos. There is Spanish singing from my abuelo’s speaker and “young people” songs that play from my headphones. There is a little, cozy apartment and a large, exquisite house. Behind my skin is more than what you can see. Behind my skin is what makes me me. 

Mariela Alschuler is a seventh-grader at Ethical Culture Fieldston School and lives in the Bronx, New York. When she’s not in school, Mariela likes to read, write, do gymnastics, watch Netflix, and spend time with her friends and family. She hopes to be a doctor and writer when she grows up.

Reese Martin

University Liggett School, Grosse Point Woods, Mich.

Reese Martin

A True Irishman?

Similar to Kayla Devault in her YES! article “Native and European-How Do I Honor All Parts of Myself,” I hold holistic pride in my cultural identity. As a descendant of Irish immigrants, my childhood was filled with Irish folk music, laughter, and all things green. I remember being a toddler, sitting on my Popo’s lap wearing a shiny green, slightly obnoxious, beaded shamrock necklace. There, in the living room, I was surrounded by shamrocks hanging on the walls and decorations spread throughout, courtesy of my grandmother who always went overboard. My father and his siblings were Irish fanatics, as well. My aunt, whom I loved spending time with as a child, was notorious for wild face painting, ear-splitting music, and crazy outfits on St. Patrick’s Day. The holiday typically started in Detroit’s historic Corktown for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade with the promise of authentic Irish corned beef and soda bread at the Baile Corcaigh Irish Restaurant following the festivities. Charlie Taylor, a local Irish musician, belted folk songs from Baile Corcaigh’s makeshift stage. It was one of the few days a year my father and his large family came together. Although my aunt and grandparents have passed, our family’s Irish pride is eternal.

There was, however, one peculiar thing about our Irish heritage— none of my family looked classic Irish. My father and his five siblings have nearly black eyes and fairly dark skin, not the typical Irish traits of blue eyes and light skin. DeVault wrote, “When I was older, the questions came, which made me question myself.” I fell into a similar predicament, questioning my heritage. It truly came as a shock when a couple of my paternal aunts and several cousins took DNA tests through 23andMe and AncestryDNA. The results revealed the largest percentage of our ethnicity was Lebanese and Middle Eastern, not Irish.

It felt like a punch to the gut. I was clueless on how to move forward. According to the numbers, we possessed an insignificant amount of Irish blood. How was it possible to be wrong about such a huge part of my identity? Not only was I confused about my culture and history, but I also experienced a great deal of shame—not of my newfound Middle Eastern heritage, but the lack of Irish DNA, which I had previously held so close and felt so proud of. It felt as though I was betraying the memory of my late grandparents and aunt.

Even amidst my confusion, I found this new heritage intriguing; I was excited to explore all that my newly found Lebanese culture had to offer: unique foods, unfamiliar traditions, and new geography. In addition to the familiar boiled and mashed potatoes, my family now eats hummus and shawarma. I also know more about the basic facts, history, and government of Lebanon. One thing dampens my enthusiasm, however. I wonder how I can fully develop a love for my newly discovered culture without being too deliberate and appearing to be insensitive to cultural appropriation.

It is here, in the depths of uncertainty and intrigue, I relate most to DeVault’s question, “How do I honor all parts of myself?” Although my Irish ancestry may not be as authentic as I once believed, I still feel a strong connection to the Irish culture. I’ve found that to truly honor all pieces of my identity, I must be willing to accept every aspect of my ancestry. I don’t need to reject Lebanese ethnicity, nor disregard the Irish memories of my childhood. I am allowed to be everything all at once. At the end of the day, with both Irish culture and Lebanese heritage, I am still simply and perfectly me.

Reese Martin is a junior at University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan. Reese plays hockey and soccer, swims competitively and is a violinist in her school orchestra. She enjoys volunteering, especially peer tutoring and reading with young children.

Rowan Burba

cultural heritage essay english

Saluting Shadows

On the floor, a murdered woman lays bloody and dead. Two young boys stare in horror at their dead mother. At only 10 years old, my great-grandfather experienced unfathomable suffering. A generation later, my grandfather and two great-uncles grew up under an abusive roof. My great-uncle Joe, the youngest of three boys, endured the worst of the abuse. Joe’s scarred brain altered during the sexual and emotional abuse his father subjected him to. From the time he was 18 months old, trusted adults of Joe’s community violated him throughout his childhood. These traumas spiraled into a century of silence, the silence I am determined to break. 

My father’s lineage is littered with trauma. Our family doesn’t openly share its past. We constantly masquerade as “normal” so we can fit in, but the alienation we experience is understandable. In Kayla DeVault’s YES! article “Native and European—How Do I Honor All Parts of Myself?” she explains her numerous identities, which include Shawnee, Anishinaabe, Eastern European, Scottish, and Irish. Although I don’t have her rich ethnic ancestry, I question my roots just as she does. I have limited photos of my deceased relatives. There are only two prominent ones: my paternal grandmother as a child with her siblings and my maternal grandmother’s obituary photo. These frosted images hide the truth of my family’s history. They’re not perfect 4″ x 6″ moments frozen in time. They’re shadowed memories of a deeply disturbed past.

For 17 years, my family was clueless about our past family trauma. Two months ago, my great-aunt explained Joe’s story to me. Joe developed Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) as a result of his abuse. By the age of 18, his brain contained 95 alters (fragments of his identity that broke off and developed into true individuals), causing Joe to appear as the “weird one,” the one who my family dismissed, the outcast of my dad’s childhood. My dad only learned one year ago, long after Joe died, about Joe’s DID. My family’s adamancy to hold secrets outweighed accepting and helping Joe. The shadows around these secrets quickly dispersed. 

The silence and shame from a mother’s death a century ago still have a chokehold on my family today. My family appears a disaster to outsiders.  My mom’s side is so religious they would never fathom a conversation about these harsh realities. In addition to Joe, my dad’s side has uncles who struggle with codependency and trauma from past abuses. Joe’s brother coped by latching onto another “normal” family, and my grandfather coped by never talking about issues. My parents married soon after my maternal grandmother and three of her four siblings died within a few weeks of each other. Despite years of therapy, my parents divorced when I was 11 years old. I grew up surrounded by dysfunction without recognizing it. 

How do I honor my roots? I work to break the silence and stigmas of abuse and mental health. I’ve participated in therapy for about five years and have been on medicine for about two. I must reprogram my brain’s attachment to codependent tendencies and eliminate the silence within me. I’m working through my intrusive thoughts and diving into my family’s past and disrupting harmful old patterns. I’m stepping away from the shadows of my ancestors and into the light, ensuring that future generations grow up with knowledge of our past history of abuse and mental illness. Knowledge that allows us to explore the shadows without living in them. Knowledge that there’s more in life outside of the frames.

Rowan Burba, a junior at Kirkwood High School in Missouri, loves to participate as a witness in Mock Trial competitions, build and paint sets for the KHS theatre department, play viola in her school orchestra, and do crafts with kids. She is involved in politics and wants to help change the world for the better.

Mia De Haan

Estrella Mountain Community College, Avondale, Ariz.

Mia de Haan

What Being a Part of the LGBTQ+ Community Means to Me

Being queer is that one thing about me I am most proud of, yet also most scared of. Knowing that I am putting my life at risk for the simplest thing, like being gay, is horrifying.

Let’s talk about my first crush. Her name was Laurel, and she was always in front of me when we lined up after recess in first grade. I remember wishing that girls could marry girls because she had the prettiest long, blonde hair. I left these thoughts in the back of my head until middle school. I couldn’t stop staring at a certain girl all day long. That one girl who I would have sleepovers with every weekend and slow dance with at school dances—but only as friends. She changed my life. She was the first person to tell me that I was accepted and had no reason to be afraid. 

Being part of the LGBTQ+ community isn’t all rainbows and Pride parades. It is watching your family turn away from you in disgust but never show it on their faces. It’s opening Twitter and learning that it’s still illegal to be gay in 71+ countries. It’s astonishing that we had to wait until 2015 for the U.S. Supreme Court to make it legal to marry in all 50 states.  

My identity is happiness yet pain, so much pain. I hated myself for years, shoved myself back into a closet and dated my best friend for two years because maybe if I brought a boy home my family would wish me “Happy Birthday” again or send me Christmas presents like they do for my brother and sister.

When I began to explore my identity again, I asked myself, “Am I safe?” “Will I still be loved?” I was horrified. I am horrified. Legally, I am safe, but I am not safe physically. I can still be beaten up on the streets for holding a girl’s hand. Protesters at Pride festivals are still allowed to shout profanities at us and tell us that we are going to burn in hell—and the cops protect them. I am not safe mentally because I still allow the words of people and homophobes in the media and on my street get inside of my head and convince me that I am a criminal. 

When I read Kayla DeVault’s YES! article “Native and European—How Do I Honor All Parts of Myself?” I could feel how proud DeVault is to be Shawnee and Irish. While we do not share the same identity, I could tell that we are the same because we both would do anything for our cultures and want to show our pride to the rest of the world.

I honor my LGBTQ+ identity by going to Pride festivals and events. I also participate in an LGBTQ+ church and club, where, for years, was the only place I could be myself without the fear of being outed or harmed. Whenever I hear people being ignorant towards my community, I try to stay calm and have a conversation about why our community is great and valid and that we are not doing anything wrong. 

I don’t know if the world will ever change, but I do know that I will never change my identity just because the world is uncomfortable with who I am. I have never been one to take risks; the idea of making a fool of myself scares me. But I took one because I thought someone might listen to my gay sob story. I never expected it to be heard. If you have your own gay sob story, I will listen, and so will many others, even if you don’t realize it yet.  

Amelia (Mia) De Haan was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. Mia has devoted her entire life to art, specifically theatre and dance. While she has struggled to figure out what she wants to do for the rest of her life, she does know that she wants to inspire people and be a voice for the people of the LGBTQ+ community who still feel that no one is listening. Mia dreams of moving to New York with her cat Loki and continuing to find a way to inspire people.

Laura Delgado

Spring Hill College, Mobile, Ala.

Lauren Delgado

I moved to the United States when I was eight years old because my father knew Venezuela was becoming more corrupt. He wanted to give his family a better life. My sense of self and belonging was wiped clean when I moved to the United States, a country that identified me and continues to label me as an “alien.” On U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) documents, I am Alien Number xxx-xxx-xxx.  I will not let that alien number define who I am: a proud Venezuelan and American woman.

In her YES! article “Native and European—How Do I Honor All Parts of Myself?” author Kayla DeVault says that “to truly honor [her] heritage, [she] found [she] must understand and participate in it.” This is why during Christmas I help my mom make hallacas (a traditional Venezuelan dish made out of cornmeal, stuffed with beef, pork, chicken, raisins, capers, and olives, wrapped in a banana leaf that is boiled to perfection), pan de jamón (a Christmas bread filled with ham, cheese, raisins, and olives—the perfect sweet and salty combination, if you ask me), and ensalada de gallina (a chicken, potatoes, and green apple salad seasoned with mayonnaise, salt, and pepper). While the gaitas (traditional Venezuelan folk music) is playing, we set up the Christmas tree and, under it, the nativity scene. The smell of Venezuelan food engulfs our small apartment. Every time I leave the house, the smell of food sticks to me like glue, and I love it.

We go to our fellow Venezuelan friend’s house to dance, eat, and laugh like we were back in Venezuela. We play bingo and gamble quarters as we talk over each other.  My favorite thing is how we poke fun at each other, our way of showing our love. There is nothing better than being surrounded by my Venezuelan family and friends and feeling like I belong.

My ancestors are Spanish settlers, West African slaves, and Indigenous Venezuelans. To my peers, I am a Latina woman who can speak Spanish and comes from a country they have never heard of. To my family, I am a strong and smart Venezuelan woman who is succeeding in this country she calls home. 

I was immediately an outcast as a young newcomer to this country. I was the new, exotic girl in class who did not speak a word of English; all of that led to bullying. Growing up in a country that did not want me was—and still is—hard. People often ask me why I would ever want to identify as American. My answer to their question is simple: This is my home. I knew that the chances of us going back to Venezuela were slim to none so I decided to make this country my home. At first, I fought it. My whole life was back in Venezuela. Eventually, I made lifelong friends, had my first kiss and my first heartbreak. I went to all of the homecoming and prom dances and made memories with my best friends to last me a lifetime. Yes, I was born in Venezuela and the pride of being a Venezuelan woman will never be replaced, but my whole life is in the United States and I would never trade that for the world. 

I am Venezuelan and I am American. I am an immigrant and I am Latina. The United States government will always know me as Alien Number xxx-xxx-xxx, but they will not know that my heritage is rich and beautiful and that I am a proud Venezuelan and a proud American woman.

Laura Delgado is a Junior at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, majoring in Graphic Design and minoring in Hispanic Studies. Laura and her family migrated to the United States from Venezuela in 2007 to escape the Chavez regime. She is a DACA recipient and a first-generation college student who has a passion for graphic design and hopes to one day open her own interior design company.

cultural heritage essay english

Dear every human who wrote in this contest or thought about writing,

I want to start by addressing all of you. 

I think stepping out of your comfort zone and writing your truth—even if you think you aren’t a writer— is a brave thing to do. 

I want you to understand that not being selected does not mean your story isn’t valid or that your identity wasn’t “enough.” Remember, you’re always enough. You’re enough to God, to Allah, to your Higher Power, to the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the sky, to your parents, and to your ancestors who endured long enough for you to come into existence. 

As I read through the various essays, I saw a common thread of food . Whether it’s the pierogi sales at churches in Pittsburgh, the neverias around Phoenix, or the soul food joints in Birmingham, the history of our ancestors’ movements have left their impressions in our cuisine. 

Another theme I found in several essays was a “uniformed diaspora.” Some of you talked about not being able to fully trace your lineage, having your history stolen by some method of political racism, and even grappling with finding that your genetics are not all you thought they were. As a Native person, I know all too well that we had much taken from us. I know that the conquerors wrote our history, so ours is recorded with bias, racism, and flippancy. 

And now to the essay winners:

To Susanna: Obrigada for your story. I encourage you to keep exploring your identity and how it informs your existence today on Lenape, Rockaway, and Canarsie traditional lands (New York City). Your imagery reflects saudades well. I think there is an intriguing and untapped story embedded in your father’s experience from Lebanon, and I encourage you to explore how that merges with your Brazilian identity.

When I read that passage about Starbucks, I thought about how the average young American seems to be private in public, but public in private—meaning this culture and its technology isolates us (private) when we are around other people (public), yet so many of us share most about ourselves on social media (public) where we can pick and choose if we want to engage with someone (private). By the way, I, too, played lacrosse… Did you know it has Indigenous roots?

To Cherry: 非常感谢你!  Don’t listen to the American stereotypes of who you are, as hard as that can be. You sadly may always hear them, but hearing is not the same as listening. People undermine the things they don’t understand because the things they don’t understand scare them. While it is not your job to feel you have to educate them, you do have the freedom to choose how you navigate those spaces.

I understand how it may feel inauthentic to learn how to make traditional foods like zongzi from a YouTube video. For me, I have had to learn beading and other crafts because I was too ashamed to learn them when I had the elders still in my life. I  tell young folk to know their elders now while they can. Furthermore, please speak every language no matter how imperfect because it’s a gift. Also, I’ll eat your zongzi any day, even if all the rice falls out!

To Keon: The imagery and symbols of slavery you use, powerfully describe a revisionist history that further blocks access to what would be a culturally-rich ancestry. 

I remember standing on the shores of Ouidah, Benin, from where the majority of slaves left, looking through La Porte du Non Retour (The Door of No Return) memorial, and hearing a local say, “Our relatives, they left these shores for the ships and then… we never heard from them again.” And so we come to realize our stories are known only so far as they have been carried. 

I see hope in the way you have embraced your roots as your branches to move forward. I believe that, in looking towards your branches, you have actually found your roots. You are a product of all the stories, told and untold, remembered and forgotten. I encourage you to keep writing and exploring how your seemingly contradicting and somewhat unknown roots shaped your ancestors and shape their product: you. Don’t hold back. 

To Madison: Grazie and תודה. First of all, pizza bagels are delicious… just saying… talk about the best of both worlds! You write about the challenge of fitting into your communities, and I can certainly see how religious differences can become contentious. 

I am sorry that you had a negative Hillel experience. In the end, we can’t let the persecutors steal our ancestral identities from us because that allows them to win. Cultures are fluid, not rigid and defined as peers might bully us into thinking. It’s rotten when people label us with things like “pizza bagel,” but if you boldly embrace it, you can turn it on its head. So I encourage you to be the smartest, wittiest, and most deliciously confident pizza bagel out there, writing your experience for all to read!

To Laura: Gracias , you write with a motif of sorts, one that conflates your identity to a number and the label of “alien.” For people in the United States to be dismissive of immigrants and judgmental of their cultures and languages is for the same people to forget their own origins, their own stories, and their own roles (as benefactors or as victims) in this age-old system of oppression for gain. It is also rather ironic that we call people “aliens;” unless they are from an Indigenous nation. Are not nearly all Americans “aliens” to some degree?

You write about being bullied as the new, exotic girl in school and I have also experienced that as my family moved around a bit growing up; however, I have also had the privilege to speak English.

It’s sad that these experiences are still so proliferate, and so I think it is vital that people like you share their experiences. Perhaps your background can inform how you think about spaces as an interior designer. 

To Mariela: Gracias and תודה for the story you shared. You write about a complex existence that is a mix of poor and wealthy, white and brown, warm and cool. Learning to navigate these contrasting sides of your family will help you work with different kinds of people in your future.

I can understand your point about feeling out of place by your skin color. Lighter skin is largely considered a privilege in society, yet for those of us with non-white heritages, it can make us feel like we don’t belong amongst our own family. We have to walk a fine line where we acknowledge we may be treated better than our relatives in some circumstances but we have to sit with the feeling of not being “brown enough” other times. I encourage you to keep exploring your branches and sharing your feelings with your relatives about these topics. Perhaps one day you can use your deep understanding of human relations to inform your bedside manner as a doctor!

To Mia: Thank you for your brave piece, despite your fears. Your emotional recollection about the first girl you loved is very touching and powerful. 

I am sorry that you don’t feel as though you are treated the same by your family on account of your identity and that you have to take extra steps to be accepted, but I believe your continuing to be your authentic self is the only way to prove you mean what you mean.

I hope the utmost safety and acceptance for you. I also thank you for seeing and relating to my pride that I have for myself, and I encourage you to consider creative outlets— maybe even podcast hosting—to uplift your story and the stories of others, spread awareness, and facilitate change.

To Reese: Go raibh maith agat . That’s how you thank a singular person in Irish, if you didn’t know already. I enjoyed your piece because, of course, we have an Irish connection that I understand.

I find it pretty interesting that you came back with a lot of Lebanese results in your family tests. Understand those tests only represent the inherited genes, so if both of your parents were a quarter Irish but three-quarters Lebanese, for example, you would get half of each of their genes. You might get half Lebanese from both and you would appear full Lebanese—or any other variation. My point is those tests aren’t exact reports.

I am excited you have found new aspects of your heritage and I hope you will continue to explore—as best you can—what your ancestral history is. And, by the way, I, too, play hockey and the violin—fine choices!

To Rowan: Many families put up a facade, and it’s only the brave ones, like you, addressing the trauma head-on who will be able to break the cycle that causes intergenerational trauma. 

When we explore the parts of our identity, many of us may find how much trauma —including historic policy, racism, and displacement—has impacted our ancestors, perhaps centuries upon centuries ago. Learning about my family history and about religious factors has revealed stories of abuse and secrets that have been hushed wildly, even within my immediate family. Photos can be sad when we know the stories behind them and even when we never knew the person; they’re still a part of us and we can honor them by remembering them. I think you choosing to write about your Uncle Joe and the effects of trauma in your family— especially as you process and heal yourself—will be a tremendous resource both internally and for others. Thank you for sharing and I hope you find happiness in those frames.

Again, thank you all for your essays. It is exciting to see the youth writing. I am grateful for my piece to have been chosen for this contest and, I hope I’ve encouraged readers to consider every part that makes up their whole and how it has informed their life experiences.

Kayla DeVault

“ In seventh grade, I went to an affinity group meeting. And all I remember was being called a bad Asian again and again. I was called a bad Asian because I couldn’t use chopsticks. I was called a bad Asian because I didn’t know what bubble tea or K-pop was. Time and again, I was called a bad Asian because I didn’t know the things I was expected to know, and I didn’t do the things that I was expected to do. That meeting made me truly question my identity. “ . —Sebastian Cynn, Ethical Culture Fieldston Middle School, Bronx, N.Y. Click here to read the entire essay.

“It’s difficult being Dominican but born and raised in New York. I’m supposed to speak fluent Spanish. I’m supposed to listen to their music 24/7, and I’m supposed to follow their traditions. I’m supposed to eat their main foods. I’m unique and it’s not only me. Yes, I may not speak Spanish. Yes, I may not listen to their kind of music, but I don’t think that defines who I am as a Dominican. I don’t think I should be discriminated for not being the same as most Dominicans. Nobody should be discriminated against for being different from the rest because sometimes different is good. “ —Mia Guerrero, KIPP Washington Heights Middle School, New York, N.Y. Click here to read the entire essay.

When I hang out with some of my older friend groups, which are mainly white, straight kids, I don’t mention that I’m Asian or Gay, but as soon as I’m with my friends, I talk about my identifiers a lot. A lot of them are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and 11 out of 14 of them are a person of color. With my grandparents, I am quieter, a good Asian grandchild who is smart, gets good grades, is respectful. And I don’t act “Gay.” … Why do I have to act differently with different people? Why do I only feel comfortable with all of my identities at school?

—Gillian Okimoto, Ethical Culture Fieldston Middle School, Bronx, N.Y. Click here to read the entire essay .

“ Torah, Shema, yarmulke, all important elements of Jewish identity—except for mine. All these symbols assume the existence of a single God, but that doesn’t resonate with me. Religion is a meaningful part of my family’s identity. After all, wanting to freely practice their religion was what brought my great-grandparents to America from Eastern Europe. Being very interested in science, I could never wrap my head around the concept of God. Can I be Jewish while not believing in God? “ —Joey Ravikoff, Ethical Culture Fieldston Middle School, Bronx, N.Y. Click here to read the entire essay.

“ Yes, I am transgender, but I am also a son, a friend, an aspiring writer, and a dog trainer. I love riding horses. I’ve had the same volunteer job since sixth grade. I love music and trips to the art museum. I know who I am and whether other people choose to see me for those things is out of my control.  Holidays with my family feels like I’m suffocating in a costume. I’ve come out twice in my life. First, as a lesbian in middle school. Second, as a transgender man freshman year. I’ve gotten good at the classic sit-down. With hands folded neatly in front of me, composure quiet and well-kept, although I’m always terrified. “ —Sebastian Davies-Sigmund, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Mo. Click here to read the entire essay.

“ No longer do I wish to be stared at when civil rights and slavery are discussed. In every Socratic seminar, I shudder as expectant white faces turn to mine. My brown skin does not make me the ambassador for Black people everywhere. Please do not expect me to be the racism police anymore. Do not base the African American experience upon my few words. Do not try to be relatable when mentioning Hannukah is in a few days. Telling me you tell your White friends not to say the N-word doesn’t do anything for me. “ —Genevieve Francois, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Mo. Click here to read the entire essay.

“ I often walk into the kitchen greeted by my mother sitting on her usual stool and the rich smells of culture—the spicy smell of India, the hearty smell of cooked beans, or the sizzling of burgers on the grill. Despite these great smells, I find myself often yearning for something like my friends have; one distinct culture with its food, people, music, and traditions. I don’t have a one-click culture. That can be freeing, but also intimidating . People who know me see me as a fraction: ¼ black, ¾ white, but I am not a fraction. I am human, just human. “ —Amaela Bruce, New Tech Academy at Wayne High School, Fort Wayne, Ind. Click here to read the entire essay.

“‘We just don’t want you to go to hell. ‘ I am not an atheist. I am not agnostic. I have no religion nor do I stand strong in any one belief. My answer to the mystery of life is simple: I don’t know. But I live in a world full of people who think they do.  There will be a day when that capital G does not control my conversations. There will be a day when I can speak of my beliefs, or lack thereof, without judgment, without the odd stare, and without contempt. The day will come when a life without religion is just another life. That is the day I wait for. That day will be Good. “ —Amara Lueker, New Tech Academy at Wayne High School, Fort Wayne, Ind. Click here to read the entire essay.

“¡Correle!” yell the people around him. He runs to the grass, ducks down and starts to wait. He’s nervous. You can smell the saltiness of sweat. He looks up and hears the chopping of helicopter blades. You can see the beam of light falling and weaving through the grass field … out of a group of thirteen, only four were left hidden. He and the others crossed and met up with people they knew to take them from their own land down south to the opportunity within grasp up north. That was my father many years ago. I’ve only asked for that story once, and now it’s committed to memory. “ —Luz Zamora, Woodburn Academy of Art Science & Technology, Woodburn, Ore. Click here to read the entire essay.

“ How do I identify myself? What do I connect to? What’s important to you? Here’s the answer: I don’t. Don’t have a strong connection. Don’t know the traditions. Don’t even know the languages. I eat some of the food and kinda sorta hafta** the major holidays but thinking about it I don’t know anything important. I think that the strongest connection to my family is my name, Mei Li (Chinese for “beautiful” Ana (a variation on my mother’s very American middle name: Anne) Babuca (my father’s Mexican last name). “ —Mei Li Ana Babuca, Chief Sealth International High School, Seattle, Wash. Click here to read the entire essay.

“ My whole life I have felt like I don’t belong in the Mexican category. I mean yeah, I’m fully Mexican but, I’ve always felt like I wasn’t. Why is that you ask? Well, I feel that way because I don’t know Spanish. Yes, that’s the reason. It may not sound like a big deal, but, for me, I’ve always felt disconnected from my race. I felt shameful. I felt like it was an obligation to know what is supposed to be my mother tongue. My whole family doesn’t really know fluent Spanish and that has always bothered me growing up. “ —Yazmin Perez, Wichita North High School, Wichita, Kan Click here to read the entire essay.

“ I believe differently from DeVault, who believes it’s important to connect and participate with your heritage. I believe that our personal pasts have more to do with who we are as people than any national identity ever could. Sure, our heritage is important, but it doesn’t do nearly as much to shape our character and perspective as our struggles and burdens do. Out of all my past experiences, illness—and especially mental illness—has shaped me. “ —Chase Deleon, Central York High School, York, Penn. Click here to read the entire essay.

“ … I can now run that whole grape leaf assembly line, along with other traditional plates, by myself. I have begun speaking out on current topics, such as Middle-Eastern representation in acting. I have become so much closer with my relatives and I don’t mind busting a move with them on the dance floor. Although a trip to Syria is not in my near future, DeVault made me realize that a connection to your geographical cultural roots is important. According to my aunt, I have become a carefree, happy, and more passionate person. I no longer feel stuck in the middle of ethnicity and society. Becoming one with and embracing my identity truly is ‘A Whole New World.’” —Christina Jarad, University Ligget School, Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich. Click here to read the entire essay.

“While my bow is not made of wood and my arrows lack a traditional stone tip, the connections are always present, whether I am stalking bull elk in the foothills of the Rockies or fly fishing in the mystical White River. The methods and the technologies may be different, but the motivations are the same. It is a need to be connected to where my food originates. It is a desire to live in harmony with untouched lands. It is a longing to live wild, in a time where the wild is disappearing before our eyes. “ —Anderson Burdette, Northern Oklahoma University, Stillwater, Okla. Click here to read the entire essay.

“Black people always say that White people don’t use seasoning. This saying is one of those sayings that I always heard, but never understood. I am Black, but I was adopted into a White household … Even though I identify as a Black woman, all my life I have struggled with breaking into the Black culture because other people around me consciously or unconsciously prevent me from doing so. “ —Brittany Hartung, Spring Hill College, Mobile, Ala. Click here to read the entire essay.

We received many outstanding essays for the Fall 2019 Student Writing Competition. Though not every participant can win the contest, we’d like to share some excerpts that caught our eye:

How can other people say that I only have one identity before I can even do that for myself? —Arya Gupta, Ethical Culture Fieldston Middle School, Bronx, N.Y.

‘Middle Child’ by J. Cole blasts through the party. Everyone spits the words like they’re on stage with him. J. Cole says the N-Word, and I watch my Caucasian peers proudly sing along. Mixed Girl is perplexed. Black Girl is crestfallen that people she calls friends would say such a word. Each letter a gory battlefield; White Girls insists they mean no harm; it’s how the song’s written. Black Girl cries. —Liz Terry, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Mo.

To me, valuing my ancestors is a way for me to repay them for their sacrifices. —Jefferson Adams Lopez, Garrison Middle School, Walla Walla, Wash.

A one-hour drive with light traffic. That’s the distance between me and my cousins. Short compared to a 17-hour flight to the Philippines, yet 33 miles proved to create a distance just as extreme. Thirty-three miles separated our completely different cultures. —Grace Timan, Mount Madonna High School, Gilroy, Calif.

What does it mean to feel Korean? Does it mean I have to live as if I live in Korea? Does it mean I have to follow all the traditions that my grandparents followed? Or does it mean that I can make a decision about what I love? —Max Frei, Ethical Culture Fieldston Middle School, Bronx, N.Y.

Not knowing feels like a safe that you can’t open (speaking about her ancestry) . —Madison Nieves-Ryan, Rachel Carson High School, New York, N.Y.

As I walked down the halls from classroom to classroom in high school, I would see smiling faces that looked just like mine. At every school dance, in every school picture, and on every sports team, I was surrounded by people who looked, thought, and acted similar to me. My identity was never a subject that crossed my mind. When you aren’t exposed to diversity on a daily basis, you aren’t mindful of the things that make you who you are. —Jenna Robinson, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

When my Great-Great-Grandfather Bill was 12, he ran away to work with his uncles. And then when he was older and married, he called up his wife and said, “Honey, I’m heading off to college for a few years. Buh-Bye!” Because of his adventurous spirit, Bill Shea was the first Shea to go to college. Ever since my mom told me this story, I’ve always thought that we could all use a little Bill attitude in our lives.  —Jordan Fox, Pioneer Middle School, Walla Walla, Wash.

I defy most of the stereotypes of the Indian community. I’m a gender-fluid, American, Belizean kid who isn’t very studious. I want to be a writer, not a doctor, and I would hang out with friends rather than prepare for the spelling bee. —Yadna Prasad, Ethical Culture Fieldston Middle School, Bronx, N.Y.

While my last name may be common, the history behind my family is not. A line of warriors, blacksmiths, intellectuals, and many more. I’m someone who is a story in progress. —Ha Tuan Nguyen, Chief Sealth International High School, Seattle, Wash.

My family is all heterosexual. I did not learn about my identity from them. LGBTQ+ identity is not from any part of the world. I cannot travel to where LGBTQ+people originate. It does not exist. That is the struggle when connecting with our identities. It is not passed on to us. We have to find it for ourselves. —Jacob Dudley, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

My race is DeVault’s childhood kitchen, so warm and embracing. Familiar. My sexuality is DeVault’s kitchen through adulthood: disconnected. —Maddie Friar, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Mo.

At school, I was Dar-SHAW-na and at home DAR-sha-na. There were two distinct versions, both were me, but neither were complete. \ —Darshana Subramaniam, University Liggett School, Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.

I do not think that heritage and ethnic roots are always about genetics. It is about the stories that come with it, and those stories are what shapes who you are. —Lily Cordon-Siskind, Ethical Culture Fieldston Middle School, Bronx, N.Y.

In my sixteen-year-old mind, the two ethnicities conflicted. I felt like I couldn’t be both. I couldn’t be in touch with Southern roots and Cuban ones at the same time. How could I, they contradict each other? The Cuban part of me ate all my food, was loud and blunt, an underdog and the Southerner was reserved, gentle, and polite. —Grace Crapps, Spring Hill College, Mobile, Ala.

I thought I was simply an American. However, I learned that I am not a jumbled mix of an untraceable past, but am an expertly woven brocade of stories, cultures, and hardships. My ancestors’ decisions crafted me…I am a story, and I am a mystery. —Hannah Goin, Pioneer Middle School, Walla Walla, Wash.

We received many outstanding essays for the Fall 2019 Student Writing Competition, and several students got clever and creative with their titles. Here are some titles that grabbed our attention:

“A Mixed Child in a Mixed-Up Family” Caitlin Neidow, Ethical Culture Fieldston Middle School, Bronx, N.Y.

“Diggin’ in the DNA” Honnor Lawton, Chestnut Hill Middle School, Liverpool, N.Y.

“Hey! I’m Mexican (But I’ve Never Been There)” Alexis Gutierrez-Cornelio, Wellness, Business & Sports School, Woodburn, Ore.

“What It Takes to Be a Sinner” Amelia Hurley, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Mo.

“Mirish” Alyssa Rubi, Chief Sealth International High School, Seattle, Wash.

“Nunca Olvides de Donde Vienes ” ( Never forget where you came from ) Araceli Franco, Basis Goodyear High School, Goodyear, Ariz.

“American Tacos” Kenni Rayo-Catalan, Estrella Mountain Community College, Avondale, Ariz.

“Corn-Filled Mornings and Spicy Afternoons” Yasmin Medina, Tarrant County Community College, Fort Worth, Tex.

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  • Essay on Indian Heritage

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English Essay on Indian Heritage

An introduction.

This article helps you in getting a gist of how to go about writing an essay on Indian heritage. So, continue reading to have a gist of various points on writing an essay on Indian Heritage.

The Indian Heritage

Indian heritage dates back several centuries. It is vast and vibrant. Flora and fauna, music, architecture, classical dance, and the innate secular philosophy of its people are the highlights of India's treasure. Ever since the beginning, we have preserved culture and tradition beautifully for our upcoming generations. We can never forget our tradition and culture as they are embedded in us and are an inseparable part of our lives no matter how far we plan to reach and how much we have progressed in all these years.

In India, people from numerous religious castes and creeds reside in the same country and so it is the land of diversified cultures and traditions. Each religion and caste has its own traditions and Customs. Each religious group follows the culture and has a deep unwavering faith and underlying roots.

Every religion has its own set of music, dance forms, festivals, and several other forms of art that have their own charming essence. Our respect towards our culture is equally divided in the culture and tradition of other religions as well, which is the reason for the survival of the vivid Indian heritage for centuries.

We take pride in our heritage and we also have a magnification of monumental Heritage. Most of the beautiful edifices exhibit a royal past that was built by the rulers and still stands tall.

Unity in Diversity

‘Unity in diversity’ - this depicts India very well. Thus the range of Indian heritage is also quite vast. As the number of religions is quite innumerable in India so does the diversity and so does the heritage sites. One will find various historical heritage sites in every corner of India (basically every state). These heritage sites are built decades ago and still stand alive with all the significance. These historical monuments and sites are proof of how India witnessed the footsteps of various religions, various dynasties, and traditions.

Below is a long and short essay on Indian culture and heritage that covers the richness of Indian traditions and the significance of the heritage sites.

Long and Short Essay on Indian Heritage

Sometimes we often stumble around to write an essay on any topic no irrespective of its difficulty level. Keeping that in mind, we have provided a few sample essays of Indian Heritage. These will help you to understand the structure of an essay and how to write it well during the exam.

Long Essay on Indian Culture and Heritage

If you get a question that reads ‘write an essay on Indian Heritage and Culture’, you must not be worried because you can now prepare yourself for the examination.

India is renowned for its rich history. From north to south, from east to west, every corner of India has its own story. Almost every state of India has one or more special Indian heritage sites which have now become the attractions of tourists. Some of the sites are so significant and ancient in world history that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recognized them as world heritage sites. These sites have immense historical and cultural significance in today’s date.

Various Architectural Sites

Among all the Indian heritage, architectural sites are the treat to the eyes of travelers from all over the world. Besides, Indians’ love for its rich history keeps these heritage sites alive. It is the duty of the older generations to invoke the same love and respect for these sites. They shall learn the significance and keep their willingness to preserve the heritage for future generations.

There are so many architectural gems lying around surrounding us.

Starting from Ajanta Ellora caves to Khajuraho to Hampi, all these sites are really marvellous. These hold immense value to the Indian tourism industry. Many people’s lives revolve around these. Some other names which deserve to be mentioned are Taj Mahal, Lal Kila, Qutub Minar, Fatehpur Sikri, Bhulbhulaiya, etc.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Heritage sites don’t necessarily mean only historical monuments or sites, it also includes various forests, temples, churches, etc. India has a total of 38 total UNESCO world heritage sites i.e. 30 sites are cultural sites, 7 are natural sites and 1 is from mixed-criteria sites. Below are some of the world heritage sites in India recognized by UNESCO.

Ajanta Caves in India (Maharashtra)

Ellora Caves in India (Maharashtra)

Agra Fort in India (Uttar Pradesh)

Taj Mahal in India (Uttar Pradesh)

Sun Temple in India (Orissa)

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram in India

Kaziranga National Park in India

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary in India

Churches and convents in Goa

Khajuraho in India

Hampi in India

Bodh Gaya in India

Red Fort in India

Sanchi in India

Chola Temples in India

Short Essay on Indian Heritage

It might not be easy to write a 100 words essay on Indian heritage, which is why we have provided a sample essay for the same below. Give it a read.

Indian history is as rich as its culture. If we look at the architectural marvels of the heritage sites such as Hampi, Khajuraho, Taj Mahal, Lal Kila, Qutub Minar, Fatehpur Sikri, Bhulbhulaiya, these still hold immense significance in terms of their marvelous art, engineering, construction, and labor behind each site. There are many ancient and historical monuments that stand alive. Some of them took literally one decade to hundred years to be built properly. Such beautiful heritage sites are very rarely seen these days if we talk about modern-day architecture.

Hence, as responsible citizens, it is our duty to take care of these Indian heritage sites and monuments so that these could be preserved and witnessed by our future generations as well.

India is one of the world’s oldest countries which is deeply rooted in the ancient history of human civilization. Hence these heritage sites still remain perfectly preserved to date. Hence it is our responsibility as a citizen of India to preserve these beautiful monuments for our future generations.

Our various art forms, literature monuments, tradition, and culture forms a part of our heritage. These works have been appreciated worldwide. We should be proud of such a vivacious culture that prevails in our country. India's natural heritage invokes a sense of pride in each and every citizen of this country. The diversity adds beauty and richness to this country.

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FAQs on Essay on Indian Heritage

1. Name a Few UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.

There are 38 total UNESCO world heritage sites in India i.e. 30 sites are cultural sites, seven are natural sites and one is mixed-criteria sites. A few names are - Ajanta Caves in India (Maharashtra), Ellora Caves in India (Maharashtra), Agra Fort in India (Uttar Pradesh), Taj Mahal in India (Uttar Pradesh), Sun Temple in India (Orissa), Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram in India, Kaziranga National Park in India, Khajuraho in India, Hampi in India, Chola Temples in India.

2. How to Write an Essay on Indian Heritage and Culture Easily?

With the help of the internet, it is very easy to write essays these days. Here are many sample essays on Indian heritage and culture easily available online. You can visit any renowned ed-tech portal to get access to such samples.

3. What is the Indian heritage?

It is an all-embracing confluence of traditions, customs, and religions. It is one of the world's oldest civilizations. Indian cotton textiles, the ethnicity of jewellery, the richness of silk, handiwork, and everything from ancient times still prevail and is kept alive generation after generation. Indian food is a part of Indian Heritage and is a legacy differing in taste and look in every state of the country.

4. What is the importance of our Indian heritage?

The heritage of our country provides evidence of evolution and our past. It helps us to develop an awareness of ourselves and examine our traditions and history. It helps us to explain and understand the reason for the way we are. Our heritage plays an important role in our business, society, worldview, and politics and is a keystone of our culture. It inspires, influences, and informs policy and public debate directly and indirectly.

5. Why is preserving our heritage important?

Heritage is fragile, it delivers so much in terms of enjoyment and important human experience. It allows us to define ourselves and enriches our lives but also needs consistent development and protection. The acknowledgment of the significance of our heritage is essential to be recognized by the government and reflected in inappropriate and reformed structures and increased funding. This ensures that the most suitable elements are passed on to our children and eventually to their future generations as well.

6. What is UNESCO?

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization encourages the preservation, protection, and identification of the natural heritage around the world and is considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. The international treaty called the Convention is concerned with the protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage which was adopted by UNESCO in 1972.

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Essay on Cultural Heritage

Students are often asked to write an essay on Cultural Heritage in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Cultural Heritage

Understanding cultural heritage.

Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes inherited from past generations. It includes traditions, languages, and monuments that are important to our identity.

Types of Cultural Heritage

There are two types: tangible and intangible. Tangible heritage includes buildings and historical places, while intangible heritage includes folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge.

Why is it Important?

Cultural heritage helps us understand our past and shapes our future. It gives us a sense of belonging and understanding of our community and others.

Preserving Cultural Heritage

We must respect and preserve cultural heritage, as it’s a bridge between the past, present, and future. It’s our responsibility to pass it on to future generations.

250 Words Essay on Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes inherited from past generations. It encompasses a broad spectrum, from monuments, artworks, literature to practices, traditional knowledge, and expressions of human creativity.

Significance of Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage provides a sense of identity and continuity, offering a link from the past to the present and paving the way to the future. It is a mirror that reflects societal values, beliefs, and customs, serving as a valuable educational tool. It also contributes to social cohesion, fostering a sense of belonging and promoting mutual respect among different cultural communities.

Preservation of Cultural Heritage

The preservation of cultural heritage is crucial for maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalization. It involves safeguarding significant cultural items and intangible aspects from threats such as natural disasters, conflict, and neglect. This task necessitates the collaboration of local communities, governments, and international organizations.

Cultural Heritage in the Digital Era

The digital era has brought new opportunities and challenges for cultural heritage. Digitization can help preserve and disseminate cultural heritage, making it accessible to a wider audience. However, it also raises issues related to copyright, authenticity, and the potential loss of context.

In conclusion, cultural heritage is an essential part of our shared human experience. It holds significant value for both individuals and societies, and its preservation is vital for our collective future.

500 Words Essay on Cultural Heritage

Introduction.

Cultural heritage, a term that signifies the wealth of physical artifacts and intangible attributes inherited from past generations, plays a crucial role in shaping societal identity. This heritage, passed from one generation to the next, encompasses practices, places, objects, artistic expressions, and values. It is a mirror reflecting the historical journey of a civilization, offering insights into its evolution, achievements, and challenges.

The Tangibility and Intangibility of Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage bifurcates into tangible and intangible forms. Tangible cultural heritage includes buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, and artifacts, which are significant milestones in a community’s history. For instance, the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Egypt, and the Taj Mahal of India are emblematic of their respective civilizations’ architectural prowess and aesthetic sensibilities.

Intangible cultural heritage, on the other hand, refers to traditions or living expressions passed down over generations. This includes oral traditions, performing arts, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature, and traditional craftsmanship. The Flamenco dance of Spain, the tea ceremony of Japan, and the storytelling tradition of West Africa are examples of intangible heritage that shape the cultural identities of these regions.

The Importance of Preserving Cultural Heritage

Preserving cultural heritage is of paramount importance for several reasons. Firstly, it promotes a sense of identity and continuity in a fast-changing world, offering a source of pride and belonging for communities. Secondly, cultural heritage serves as a bridge between the past and the present, providing valuable lessons and guiding societal progress. Lastly, cultural heritage is an important driver of tourism, contributing to economic growth and sustainable development.

Challenges in Cultural Heritage Preservation

Despite its importance, cultural heritage faces numerous threats. Uncontrolled urbanization, environmental degradation, armed conflicts, and even tourism can lead to the deterioration or destruction of both tangible and intangible heritage. Moreover, the rapid pace of modernization and globalization can lead to the erosion of traditional practices and knowledge systems.

In conclusion, cultural heritage is an invaluable asset that offers a window into the past, shapes present identities, and guides future progress. It is a testament to human creativity, resilience, and diversity. As such, it is incumbent upon us, as custodians of the past for future generations, to safeguard and preserve our cultural heritage. This requires concerted efforts at local, national, and international levels, as well as the integration of heritage conservation into broader socioeconomic development strategies.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

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Unesco social media, kremlin and red square, moscow.

  • Description

Inextricably linked to all the most important historical and political events in Russia since the 13th century, the Kremlin (built between the 14th and 17th centuries by outstanding Russian and foreign architects) was the residence of the Great Prince and also a religious centre. At the foot of its ramparts, on Red Square, St Basil's Basilica is one of the most beautiful Russian Orthodox monuments.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Le Kremlin et la place Rouge, Moscou

Indissolublement lié à tous les événements historiques et politiques les plus importants survenus en Russie depuis le XIII e siècle, le Kremlin a été construit entre le XIV e et le XVII e siècle par des architectes russes et étrangers exceptionnels. C'était la résidence du grand-prince ainsi qu'un centre religieux. Au pied de ses remparts, sur la place Rouge, s'élève la basilique Basile-le-Bienheureux, l'un des plus beaux monuments de l'art orthodoxe.

الكرملين والساحة الحمراء، موسكو

يرتبط الكرملين ارتباطاً وثيقاً بجميع الأحداث التاريخيّة والسياسيّة المهمّة التي توالت على روسيا منذ القرن الثالث عشر ولقد جرى تشييده بين القرنين الرابع والسابع عشر على يد مهندسين روس وأجانب استثنائيين. وكان الكرملين مقرّ الأمير الكبير كما كان مركزاً دينيّاً. عند أسفل أسواره في الساحة الحمراء شيدت بازيليك القديس بازيل وهي من أروع تحف الفنّ الأرثوذكسي.

source: UNESCO/CPE Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

莫斯科克里姆林宫和红场

由俄罗斯和外国建筑家于14世纪至17世纪共同修建的克里姆林宫,作为沙皇的住宅和宗教中心,与13世纪以来俄罗斯所有最重要的历史事件和政治事件密不可分。在红场上防御城墙的脚下坐落的圣瓦西里教堂是俄罗斯传统艺术最漂亮的代表作之一。

El kremlin y la Plaza Roja de Moscú

Indisolublemente vinculado a los más trascendentales acontecimientos históricos y políticos de Rusia desde el siglo XIII, el kremlin de Moscú fue construido entre los siglos XIV y XVII por toda una serie de excelentes arquitectos rusos y extranjeros. Además de ser la residencia del Gran Príncipe, fue un importante centro religioso. Al pie de sus murallas, en la Plaza Roja, se alza la basílica de San Basilio el Bienaventurado, uno de los más hermosos monumentos de arte ortodoxo.

モスクワのクレムリンと赤の広場

source: NFUAJ

Kremlin en Rode Plein, Moskou

Het Kremlin is onlosmakelijk verbonden met alle belangrijke historische en politieke gebeurtenissen in Rusland sinds de 13e eeuw. Het werd door de Grote Prins Yuri van Kiev gesticht als residentie en religieus centrum. De bouw vond plaats tussen de 14e en 17e eeuw en het ontwerp was in handen van uitstekende Russische en buitenlandse architecten. Binnen de muren van het Kremlin vindt men een reeks meesterwerken qua architectuur, maar ook beeldende kunst en religieuze monumenten van uitzonderlijke schoonheid. Aan de voet van de stadsmuren, op het Rode Plein, bevindt zich een van de mooiste Russisch-orthodoxe monumenten, de Pokrovkathedraal ook wel Basiliuskathedraal genoemd.

Source: unesco.nl

cultural heritage essay english

Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

At the geographic and historic centre of Moscow, the Moscow Kremlin is the oldest part of the city. First mentioned in the Hypatian Chronicle in 1147 as a fortification erected on the left bank of the Moskva river by Yuri Dolgoruki, Prince of Suzdal, the Kremlin developed and grew with settlements and suburbs which were further surrounded by new fortifications - Kitaigorodsky Wall, Bely Gorod, Zemlyanoy Gorod and others. This determined a radial and circular plan of the centre of Moscow typical of many other Old Russian cities.

In 13th century the Kremlin was the official residence of supreme power - the center of temporal and spiritual life of the state. The Kremlin of the late 15th – early 16th century is one of the major fortifications of Europe (the stone walls and towers of present day were erected in 1485–1516). It contains an ensemble of monuments of outstanding quality.

The most significant churches of the Moscow Kremlin are situated on the Cathedral Square; they are the Cathedral of the Dormition, Church of the Archangel, Church of the Annunciation and the bell tower of Ivan Veliki. Almost all of them were designed by invited Italian architects which is clearly seen in their architectural style. The five-domed Assumption Cathedral (1475–1479) was built by an Italian architect Aristotele Fiorvanti. Its interior is decorated with frescos and a five-tier iconostasis (15th–17th century). The cathedral became the major Russian Orthodox church; a wedding and coronation place for great princes, tsars and emperors as well as the shrine for metropolitans and patriarchs.

In the same square another Italian architect, Alevisio Novi, erected the five-domed Church of the Archangel in 1505-1508. From the 17th to 19th century, its interior was decorated by wonderful frescos and an iconostasis. In this church many great princes and tsars of Moscow are buried. Among them are Ivan I Kalita, Dmitri Donskoi, Ivan III, Ivan IV the Terrible, Mikhail Fedorovich and Alexei Mikhailovich Romanovs.

The Cathedral of the Dormition was built by Pskov architects in 1484–1489. Inside the cathedral some mural paintings of 16th–19th century have been preserved and the icons of Andrei Rublev and Theophanes the Greek are part of the iconostasis.

In 1505-1508 the bell tower of Ivan Veliki was built. Being 82 metres high it was the highest building in Russia which became the focal point of the Kremlin ensemble.

Among the oldest civil buildings of the Moscow Kremlin, the Palace of the Facets (1487–1491) is the most remarkable. Italian architects Marco Fryazin and Pietro Antonio Solario built it as a great hall for holding state ceremonies, celebrations and for receiving foreign ambassadors. The most noteworthy civil construction of the 17th century built by Russian masters is the Teremnoi Palace.

From the early 18th century, when the capital of Russia moved to St. Petersburg, the Kremlin mainly played a ceremonial role with religious functions. By the end of the century the architectural complex of the Kremlin expanded with the Arsenal reconstructed after the Fire of 1797 by Matvei Kazakov. The Senate was built in 1776–1787 according to the plans of the same architect as the home of the highest agency of State power of the Russian Empire - the Ruling Senate. Today it is the residence of the President of Russia.

From 1839 to 1849 a Russian architect K.A. Thon erected the Great Kremlin Palace as a residence of the imperial family which combined ancient Kremlin buildings such as the Palace of the Facets, the Tsarina’s Golden Chamber, Master Chambers, the Teremnoi Palace and the Teremnoi churches. In the Armory Chamber built by K.A. Thon within the complex of the Great Kremlin Palace, there is a 16th century museum officially established by the order of Alexander I in 1806.

Red Square, closely associated with the Kremlin, lies beneath its east wall. At its south end is the famous Pokrovski Cathedral (Cathedral of St Basil the Blessed), one of the most beautiful monuments of Old Russian church architecture, erected in 1555–1560 to commemorate the victory of Ivan the Terrible over the Kazan Khanate. In the 17th century the cathedral gained its up-to-date appearance thanks to the decorative finishing of the domes and painting both inside and outside the cathedral. The construction of Red Square was finished by the late 19th century together with the erection of the Imperial Historic Museum (today the State Historical Museum), the Upper Trading Rows (GUM) and the Middle Trading Rows. In 1929, , Lenin’s Mausoleum, designed by A.V. Shchusev and an outstanding example of the Soviet monumental architecture, was finished.

Criterion (i) : The Kremlin contains within its walls a unique series of masterpieces of architecture and the plastic arts. There are religious monuments of exceptional beauty such as the Church of the Annunciation, the Cathedral of the Dormition, the Church of the Archangel and the bell tower of Ivan Veliki; there are palaces such as the Great Palace of the Kremlin, which comprises within its walls the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin and the Teremnoi Palace. On Red Square is Saint Basil the Blessed, still a major edifice of Russian Orthodox art.

Criterion (ii) : Throughout its history, Russian architecture has clearly been affected many times by influences emanating from the Kremlin. A particular example was the Italian Renaissance. The influence of the style was clearly felt when Rudolfo Aristotele Fioravanti built the Cathedral of the Dormition (1475-79) and grew stronger with the construction of the Granovitaya Palace (Hall of the Facets, 1487-91) by Marco Fryazin and Pietro Antonio Solario. Italian Renaissance also influenced the towers of the fortified enceinte, built during the same period by Solario, using principles established by Milanese engineers (the Nikolskaya and the Spasskaya Towers both date from 1491). The Renaissance expression was even more present in the classic capitals and shells of the Church of the Archangel, reconstructed from 1505 to 1509 by Alevisio Novi.

Criterion (iv) : With its triangular enceinte pierced by four gates and reinforced with 20 towers, the Moscow Kremlin preserves the memory of the wooden fortifications erected by Yuri Dolgoruki around 1156 on the hill at the confluence of the Moskova and Neglinnaya rivers (the Alexander Garden now covers the latter). By its layout and its history of transformations (in the 14th century Dimitri Donskoi had an enceinte of logs built, then the first stone wall), the Moscow Kremlin is the prototype of a Kremlin - the citadel at the centre of Old Russian towns such as Pskov, Tula, Kazan or Smolensk.

Criterion (vi) : From the 13th century to the founding of St Petersburg, the Moscow Kremlin was directly and tangibly associated with every major event in Russian history. A 200-year period of obscurity ended in 1918 when it became the seat of government again. The Mausoleum of Lenin on Red Square is the Soviet Union’s prime example of symbolic monumental architecture. To proclaim the universal significance of the Russian revolution, the funerary urns of heroes of the revolution were incorporated into the Kremlin’s walls between the Nikolskaya and Spasskaya towers. The site thus combines in an exceptional manner the preserved vestiges of bygone days with present-day signs of one of the greatest events in modern history.

From the date of including the Moscow Kremlin and Red Square on the World Heritage List all the components representing the Outstanding Universal Value of the property are within its boundaries. The territory and the integrity of the World Heritage property have also remained unchanged. Within its boundaries the property still comprises all the elements that it contained at the date of nomination. The biggest threat, however, is unregulated commercial development of the adjacent areas.

Authenticity

The history of the Moscow Kremlin and Red Square is reflected in the archival documents of 12th–19th century, for example in medieval chronicles, cadastral surveys, estimated construction books, painted lists, inventories, foreign notes and in graphic matters such as manuscripts, chronicles, plans, drafts, engravings, lithographs, sketches of foreign travelers, paintings and photographs. These documents are exceptionally valuable information sources. Comparison of the data received from archival documents and those obtained in the process of field study gives the idea of authenticity of  the property and its different elements. This comparison also serves as the basis for project development and for the choice of the appropriate methods of restoration that may preserve the monuments’ authenticity.

On the border of the ensemble a number of monuments destroyed in the 1930s were reconstructed according to measured plans.

Protection and management requirements

The statutory and institutional framework of an effective protection, management and improvement of the World Heritage property “Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow” has been established by laws and regulations of the Russian Federation and the city of Moscow.

According to the decree of the President of RSFSR of 18 December 1991 № 294, the Moscow Kremlin was included among especially protected cultural properties of nations of Russia - the highest conservation status for cultural and historical monuments in Russian legislation.

“Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow” is a Cultural Heritage Site of federal importance. State protection and management of federal sites is provided by Federal Law of 25.06.2002 № 73-FZ “On cultural heritage sites (historical and cultural monuments) of nations of the Russian Federation”. The federal executive body responsible for protection of the cultural property is the Department for Control, Supervision and Licensing in the Cultural Heritage Sphere of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.It is in charge of all methodological and control functions concerning restoration, usage and support of cultural heritage sites and the territories connected.

The World Heritage property is situated in the urban environment of Moscow. The city policy regarding cultural heritage protection and town-planning regulation is the responsibility of Moscow City Government, represented by the Department of Cultural Heritage, the Department of Urban Development and the Committee for Urban Development and Architecture of Moscow. In 1997 the boundaries of the protective (buffer) zone were approved in order to preserve the property, and to maintain and restore the historical architectural environment as well as the integral visual perception of the property.. There is a need to ensure the creation of an appropriate buffer zone and to develop close liaison between all stakeholders, including the Moscow City authorities, to ensure that constructions around the property do not impact adversely on its Outstanding Universal Value.

The World Heritage property is used by the following organizations: FGBUK (Federal Government Budgetary Institution of Culture), the State Historical and Cultural Museum-preserve “The Moscow Kremlin”, the Administrative Department of the President of the Russian Federation, the Federal Guard Service of the Russian Federation and OJSC “GUM Department Store”.

  • Official site of 'The Moscow Kremlin' State Historical and Cultural Museum and Heritage Site
  • Moscow Kremlin Museums Telegram Group (in Russian only)
  • Moscow Kremlin Museums VKontakte Page (in Russian only)
  • Moscow Kremlin Museums Dzen Page (in Russian only)
  • State Historical Museum VKontakte Group (in Russian only)
  • Msk Guide Page (in Russian only)
  • Official site of the State Department Store
  • State Historical Museum (in Russian only)

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Cultural Heritage (Essay Sample)

I was supposed to give my view about about the conflict on the possession of cultural heritage.The sample discusses about the artefacts that should be owned by the community and those that should be stored on museum since they posses a universal character.

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The History of Moscow City

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cultural heritage essay english

Essay on Indian Heritage for Students and Children

500+ words essay on indian heritage.

Heritage means what we inherit from our ancestors and from our past. India is a land of varied cultures and traditions. People from numerous castes, religions, and creeds reside in our country. Each ethnic group in our country has its own tale of origin and its set of unique traditions and culture. They have all contributed to the making of Indian history and culture. Nature has made India into a distinct geographical entity.

essay on indian heritage

Indian Heritage: A Gift from the Older Generations

Indian heritage and culture are vast and vivid because of the large number of religious groups residing in our country. Every community has its own set of customs and traditions which it passes on to its younger generation.

However, some of our customs and traditions remain the same throughout IndiaOur traditions teach us to inculcate good habits and make us a good human being. Our cultural heritage is thus a beautiful gift from our older generation that will help us become a better human being and build a harmonious society.

Respect for our Indian Heritage

The elders should take responsibility to invoke love for the Indian heritage in the younger generations. This must be done from the very beginning only then we can preserve our rich heritage. It is the duty of the elders to invoke love for the Indian heritage in the younger generations.

This must be done from the very beginning only then we can preserve our rich heritage. Schools must teach students about Indian heritage and how it has survived for centuries. They must also share the importance of preserving it. This would help in invoking a feeling of pride in them and they would be inspired to continue the tradition and also pass it on to the new generation. This needs a collective effort by the teachers as well as parents.

Our Literature

Indian literature is as rich as its culture. We have various books written on many topics since ancient times. We have the Vedic literature, epic Sanskrit literature, Classic Sanskrit literature and Pali literature among other kinds of Indian literature. Many of our books are being translated to other languages to provide access to a greater number of readers so that more and people can benefit from the knowledge. Such a wonderful and rich literature must be preserved at any cost.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Beautiful Geological Structures

Numerous beautiful geological structures found in different parts of India. Best of the splendid geological structures that form a part of our country include Lonar Crater Lake, Siachen Glacier, Jammu and Kashmir, Pillar Rocks, Kodaikanal, Barren Island, Andamans, Magnetic Hill, Leh, Columnar Basaltic Lava, Udupi, and Toad Rock. All these structures are true wonders of nature. A lot of tourists every year from around the world especially visit these places just to catch a glimpse of these marvelous creations of God.

UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites in India

The below geological places have been enlisted in UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites. These sites include:

1. Home for the rare one-horned rhinoceros, Kaziranga National Park, in 1985.

2. Home for numerous species of beautiful birds, Keoladeo National Park, in 1985.

3. A beautiful wildlife sanctuary, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, in 1985.

4. The biggest mangrove forest, Sundarbans, in the year 1987.

5. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park, in 2004.

6. The Western Ghats, in 2012.

7. The Great Himalayan National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2014.

India is an ancient country. We are blessed with a beautiful heritage. We are solely responsible to preserve the same so that our future generations also get to see and experience the same.

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British Council

Why protecting the world's cultural heritage concerns us all, by stephen stenning, 01 august 2016 - 13:22.

Palmyra in 2010.

Varun Shiv Kapur, licensed under CC BY 2.0 and adapted from the original .

What is our 'cultural heritage' and why does it need protection? The British Council's Stephen Stenning responds.

There's a saying that culture and cultural heritage 'shapes' us. Can you explain?

To be British, Scottish, a Londoner, a Cornishman is not a matter of genes or blood. It has something to do with our surroundings and history. We construct our identities from stories, objects and buildings that conjure up our ancestors' past: their glories, tragedies, or simply their day-to-day lives. When people describe an awe-inspiring historic site, they often imagine the people who once walked through its doors, worshipped under its roof, stared open-mouthed at its statues or picnicked next to its walls. A multitude of people came before us and shaped the world we live in today.

Can you give an example of how the culture that surrounds us influences who we are?

Some years ago, I took about 15 London teenagers to an international festival in Turkey. They took part alongside other groups from about 40 countries. On arrival, someone observed that although each of the young Londoners seemed to have a different ethnic origin, with various hair colours and skin tones, they were recognisable as a group by the way they behaved. All of them were relatively self-conscious, reserved and socially unadventurous. My point is that this was a group of young people whose families had arrived in London via different routes and from different places. Yet they were all identifiable as Londoners, because they had been shaped by the same things.

How have people tried to protect their cultural heritage in the past?

People will go to extraordinary lengths to shield valuable heritage at times of war or conflict. As a child, I remember being taken to the historic Welsh mining town of  Blaenau Ffestiniog  in search of a steam railway, and marvelling at the slate grey slag heaps. Apparently, the slate mines housed top-secret, specially constructed storage buildings that  hid thousands of valuable art works and artefacts  during the Second World War. The intent was to ensure our cultural property would not fall into the hands of the Nazis, should the UK be invaded. As the  National Gallery was later bombed  during the Blitz on London in 1941, this turned out to be a very wise move.

Maenofferen Quarry at Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales

Carl Jones, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 and adapted from the original .

A more recent example can be found during the  January 2011 uprising  in Cairo's Tahrir Square, when revolutionary fervour and the withdrawal of the police offered an ideal opportunity for looters. From the first night of rioting, young activists  formed a human chain  around the National Museum that borders the square, helping security guards protect the treasures within.

What is the Hague Convention and what does it have to do with this?

The  Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict  was drawn up in 1954 as a response to the destruction of heritage and cultural property during the Second World War. Since then, more than 120 countries signed up to part or all of the convention. But it's only now that  the UK is adopting it into law . In fact, the UK was the last major nation to get on board.

Why did the UK take so long to sign up?

There were questions in the past about how robust the convention is, and it might be that those questions were a factor in delaying the UK’s ratification. The convention has been strengthened in recent years with the inclusion of criminal sanctions.

What's the extent of the damage to cultural heritage in countries where there are ongoing conflicts?

It's a challenge to co-ordinate and gather records to get a full picture of what has been damaged and destroyed, and to understand the priorities for protection.

Newspaper headlines have focused on attacks on world heritage sites, like the ancient city of  Palmyra  in Syria. In 2015, the  Temple of Baalshamin  and the third-century Roman  Arch of Triumph  were blown up by so-called  Islamic State  fighters. Footage of  militants smashing exhibits in Iraq's Mosul Museum  with sledgehammers and axes has been much-shared and broadcast.

However, the damaging effect of conflict goes well beyond the most famous sites, and what can be seen in the extremists' propaganda images and videos. A leading academic recently showed me before-and-after photos of an archaeological site in Iraq. In the ‘after’ picture, the entire site was pock-marked with thousands of holes, carelessly drilled by looters looking for objects to sell. It was a vivid and alarming illustration of the conflict's dual impact: first, the removal of law and order, and second, people's accompanying sense of desperation, fuelled by poverty, hunger and fear. It is unclear how much of worth had been scavenged from the site. It's unlikely that anything the looters found would have yielded them more than a few dollars, but the site itself was irreparably damaged.

What's going to change, now that the convention is to be ratified by the UK?

It will mean a good many changes. For example, there are very direct implications for the Ministry of Defence. On 18 May 2016, the Secretary of State announced in the House of Commons that, as part of the ratification process, the UK's armed forces would establish a military cultural protection group. Military personnel, police, and border agencies will have to be trained on cultural protection issues and the illicit trade in antiquities, so they can recognise and understand what needs protecting and where the key sites are. And on a broad symbolic level, it signals that the UK wants to understand and respect different cultures, by helping them protect their heritage and property.

Do people in the UK broadly support this decision?

The United Nations' description of the destruction of Palmyra as a  war crime  was echoed by just about every major UK newspaper. With Palmyra, we are talking about a  World Heritage Site . The point about these sites is that they are, according to the UN, ‘of outstanding cultural importance to the common heritage of humanity’. Their preservation and protection is important for mankind as a whole; they are part of our collective history.  Stonehenge  is not merely important to people who happen to be living in or around Salisbury Plain, where the prehistoric monument stands. Its protection isn’t a matter purely for the local Wiltshire County Council. Its destruction would never be seen as merely a local or even a national issue. It would be a crime against humanity that would leave all the world's inhabitants the poorer.

UK organisations can currently apply for grants available through the  Cultural Protection Fund  to carry out projects in a series of countries affected by conflict.

You might also be interested in:

  • Destroying cultural heritage: more than just material damage
  • What did Europe mean to Shakespeare?
  • How art helped these children traumatised by war

View the discussion thread.

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COMMENTS

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