understanding a generation without a country
Multicultural National Identity
How does exposure to multiple cultures affect one's sense of national Identity?
A three-person team connected with a specific pool of multicultural people—specifically, people who have lived in more than two countries and have been immersed in and influenced by the cultures around them. We aimed to understand how this multicultural immersion influences people's identity and explore the key factors that influence people's personal sense of national identity.
What I did
0 Explore a specific community and their relationship to a specific social theme.
1 Secondary Research: articles/studies/etc.
2 Primary Research: online survey, in-person interviews, graffiti wall
3 Analysis/Synthesis: one-sheeters, insight statements, mental model
4 Presentation + Process Documentation. Communicate findings to create understanding and empathy.
5 WEEKS, SPRING 2016
SOFTWARE: Qualtrics, Illustrator, InDesign, Keynote, Docs, Sheets, sticky notes
WE SET OFF ON A JOURNEY TO FIND
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE MULTICULTURAL...
How does multicultural immersion affect people's sense of national identity?
What key factors influence national identity? which factor is most influential?
HYPOTHESIS: Key Influencers
- Social Circle
...LITTLE DID WE KNOW THAT WE WERE
ABOUT TO meet "PEOPLE OF THE WORLD."
RESULTS: Multicultural people have a global identity
Combining data from online surveys and in-person interviews gave us a peek into the minds of truly global citizens.
A MENTAL MODEL IS A GREAT WAY
TO VISUALIZE ALL OUR FINDINGS.
3 main kinds of multicultural people,
3 perspective pain points.
Almost every participant expressed gratitude for the opportunities they had to experience multiple cultures. Even so, there was an overarching and tangible sense of a state of constant inner-confusion as well as frustration from being constantly misunderstood and labelled by the people around them. Perhaps more than anyone else, multicultural people experience the brunt of stereotypes—regardless of their personal sense of national identity, almost everyone rejects them. This is what leads the Third Culture Kids especially—the new generation of young multicultural people—to identify most as people "of the world," and perhaps the TCK are a small picture of what the world can become, of what lies in a beautiful future.
"WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT PEOPLE TO LEARN FROM YOU ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO BE MULTICULTURAL?"
“Not all people who don’t live in America don’t speak English. [If you're a Lyft or Uber driver, this message is especially for you.]” – P, 19
“Everybody has a different of experience regardless of where they live or where they’re from. So it’s not where you’re from but what stories you have within you and what experiences you have experienced. I would say travel more, in general. …the kind of questions [you ask are different]. But in order to ask those [questions], you need to have to know about it." – W, 21
"A lot of people who are sheltered or in one community with one culture don’t grow up respecting other cultures. Everything revolves around their culture and their ideas, and if they inform themselves and learn about other cultures, it opens their mind to be more acceptant of other people and their cultures, and kind of also develops their own interests in cultures as well." – J, 26
“I want people to think I am a book. When I introduce myself, people can open the book and talk more with me.” – C, 36
[Even though people approach others with assumptions already made,] “If people are kind and polite they can approach me any way.” – S, 53
IN CONCLUSION, Multicultural people love
talking about their experiences with culture.
Don’t be afraid to ask, and listen!
If you're still looking for pure design research...
What I learned
diverse team ≠ unique insights
We assumed that because Shelly and Karen are International students that they would be able to better understand multicultural people who've experienced life in more than two countries. But we found we were totally ignorant in our assumption! The insights we gleaned from spending time with and observing multicultural people were surprising and thought-provoking.
how this project inspired me
I was so moved by the struggles Third Culture Kids experience. I became a peer writing coach at my university where I primarily coach international students struggling with the English language. When I later joined the student council and eventually became President, this project inspired my approach to diversity & inclusion initiatives I emphasized to the council and student body.