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Lauren Piovesan
Founder of ESL Reads
EAL Teacher


Beauty Lies in a Hybrid Identity

April 5, 2024
By Analia Solis and Lauren Piovesan

In commemoration of Harmony Week, and in my current quest to create social/emotional stories focusing on identity, I aspired to learn more about how migrants and refugees navigate their two worlds: their home country, culture and language and that of their new country. To better understand this topic, I had an insightful conversation with my former teaching colleague and friend Analia Solis. In this blog post, I am eager to share with you Analia’s inspiring journey of navigating two distinct cultural landscapes to shape her own unique super-identity.

1. What does a hybrid or dual identity mean and what does it look like?

Analia’s migration from Argentina to Australia at the age of 7 provides a poignant insight into the concept of a hybrid identity. Initially a Spanish speaker, Analia’s linguistic journey evolved as she gained fluency in English and began to code switch between the two languages. She eventually embraced a fluid blend of both languages, known as Spanglish. “It’s the one I speak the best,” she asserts confidently.

Analia further elaborates on her dual identity by describing her distinct friendship groups – her Latin American group and her Aussie friends. Unbeknownst to her, she unconsciously curated her two worlds within these groups, and the languages spoken within each; Spanish or Spanglish among her Latin American friends and English with her Australian peers. She would frequent cultural celebrations and South American events with her Latin friends while “going to the pub” with her Australian friends. The two groups of friends and the events they attended never collided and rarely merged. Analia had the freedom to dip into whichever cultural activity beckoned. “I got to have fun in both!” she exclaims excitedly.  

Analia illustrated this fusion of cultures through her memory of Christmas time. For Argentinians, Christmas is always celebrated on the 24th of December with presents given at midnight and an additional celebration, The Day of the Kings, on the 6th if January. When Analia had an Australian partner, she was able to attend her Argentinian Christmas on the 24th, while also participating in her partner’s Australian Christmas on the 25th. Due to her hybrid identity, she could experience the best of both worlds.

2. Can you describe how your dual identity is your superpower?

Illustration. Photographed by Klaus Vedfel.

For Analia, embracing her dual identity transcended mere acculturation; it became a source of empowerment. While Analia cherished her cultural heritage, she also embraced the freedom to redefine herself outside of her community’s expectations, viewing this as her “superpower.” In Australia, she had the opportunity to evaluate and negotiate the values she grew up with and the recent values she had been exposed to. “However heavy the burden is of walking in and out of, and negotiating all of these differences, in the end, it is your superpower and you get to re-create yourself as a whole new human being, not chained to anything… You really can forge an amalgamation of all of the different values you have been exposed to. And that’s where I think the beauty lies in the hybridity,” she passionately articulates.  

3. What does it mean to keep your culture and traditions alive in a new country?

Despite encountering cultural changes in her new country, Analia was able to preserve her Argentinian identity and culture. She kept her language and traditions alive at home, at South American events and during cultural celebrations. In the sanctuary of her family home, she became a custodian of Argentinian traditions and knowledge captured at that precise moment in history. Analia recalled trips to Argentina spending time with family, only to find out that many of her family members no longer cooked recipes from scratch or together with family. In her home, these traditions remained very much alive.

4. What would you say to young migrants who are trying to navigate these two worlds?

Analia emphasises the importance of embracing one’s cultural heritage unapologetically. “There’s a part of you that denies your culture to fit in. My advice is: don’t deny your culture or traditions because the duality is beautiful in the long run. There might be a battle with your community initially, but as you get older, you can choose how you want to be with your identities,” she said.

Analia’s reflections serve as an important reminder of the evolving perspectives, identities, and values intrinsic to the migrant experience. As educators, let’s develop empathy and understanding around the idea of dual identities and encourage our students to embrace it wholeheartedly. Stay tuned for our upcoming releases, where we’ll delve deeper into these themes.

Analia Solis has been teaching in secondary schools for 25 years in both government and independent educational settings; primarily focusing on Sociology, EAL and English. In addition to her teaching, she has worked with the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority for various years in a variety of roles.

Screenshot 2023-04-26 152544

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