This is an autobiographical work on my experiences as a second generation Czech-American, viewing my dad’s culture from my point of view growing up in America. It takes the form of a collection of collections. This piece explores how food, language, music, folklore, and family have influenced the development of my cultural identity over the years. Each component is filled with personal anecdotes and perspectives. The entire process was one of intense, self-exploration, resulting in a vulnerable and intimate expression of my formative years and how they led into who I am today. For outsider viewers, I tried my best to give a window into the experience of growing up in a multicultural household, and the complicated love for family that defies language barriers and crosses oceans.
Included in the collection is a language book, a cookbook, a family photo album, a deck of folklore character trading cards, and a CD. In the language book, I wanted to show the Czech language as I see it in my head, as fragmented and unorganized. I never properly learned to speak it or understand it, but I have been highly exposed to it my entire life. The publication seeks to simulate a sense of disconnect and intuitive understanding similar to my own experience. In the cookbook, I compiled 16 recipes that I remember my dad or grandmother making for us growing up and set the challenge for myself to make each of them over the course of the semester and write about my experiences. The publication has both a practical and sentimental value and it will allow me to incorporate more of my cultural upbringing into my day to day life. In the family photo album, I reflect on the members of my immediate and extended family, what they mean to me and what they taught me. Through the course of the publication, I work through what it means to love someone across an ocean and across a language barrier and the realities of relationship and loss when there are years between visits. In the deck of folklore character trading cards, I chose 12 prominent figures featured in fairytales, folklore or even history that have passed into legend. This component expresses more of the light hearted and playful side of my culture that I interacted with as a child. I wanted to share the stories that most people in America have never heard of. Finally, in the CD, I compiled 15 songs that I remember my dad listening to growing up or my sister and I have discovered since then. In doing so, I brought up many buried memories as I rediscovered songs and sounds that I forgot were so familiar. Overall, my thesis barely scratches the surface of the full experience of growing up as a second generation immigrant. Going forward from graduation, I hope to keep exploring ways to preserve my culture in my day to day life and share it with others through my personal work.