by Bruna Cardoso
What cultural events or traditions does your community take part in?
The Thai community are very much interested in celebrations such as, New Year's Eve and marriage related events, as they see marriage as an essential part of life. However Luna affirmed that these events and celebrations occur in small gatherings and mainly amongst friends and family. This helps us understand that the Thai community is not one to be broad.
"We take part in different events, but none of which are located in Boston, or in the UK even." Luna stated that in her opinion and on behalf of the Thai community, they feel that the Buddhists are seen as a minority in the UK, and therefore they prefer to go "back home" where they feel more comfortable to express their ways.
When asking about the religion side of the Thai community, Luna's views seems to portray Buddhists as a rather peaceful and composed group of people. Luna explained that the Thai community are quite excluded within themselves. What caught my attention was the fact that, from her attitude they don't seem to be affected by this exclusion, in fact they see this isolation with a positive outlook. Luna added that there aren't conflicts between the Thai communities, this portrays a visual aspect of the religion itself, which is to incorporate a peaceful lifestyle.
Do you know of any Thai business in Boston?
Within Boston there are only two major Thai Businesses, including a Thai shop located in West Street, and a restaurant where my mother works. This shows us that indeed their community are not very flexible in Boston.
What is your involvement with the religion side of your community?
In Boston you will not find an actual temple for the Buddhists. This stresses the isolation of the Thai community and their lack of resources for religious practices.
John 23, from London, African background
What cultural events and traditions does your community take part in?
John's community celebrates Nigerian Independence day; this is one of their major celebrations which would normally take place in London. The aim of this event is to bring people together and build new bonds, the event entails individuals to contribute with food and drinks.
John currently works at a local Afro-Caribbean shop, he quoted "my job allows me to meet new people from similar backgrounds and build new bonds.
When John first moved to Boston from London, he found hard to integrate, specially coming from a bi city and being separated from his family and detached from his culture and religion practices, this caused him a sense of affiliation.
How hard was it for you to adjust to your new home?
For the contribution of this culture shock, John described Boston as being an under developed town, this is mainly due to bad accountancies. He stated that people from outside of Boston and even within the community can notice a major division in our town and conflicts between cultures. John echoed when he goes out with his friends, often they will hear comments such as "don't go to this place, those guys are not good".
What positive aspects can you tell me about Boston?
When John first moved to Boston he initially attended a Christian church outside Boston. But after finding a local one, he became a member at the Restore Church in Boston.
When I asked John about the importance of having a local church, he stated that it is a place of diversity, it is essential to meet new people within his community and others too. The church itself provides activities for young people and others of different ages. An example that he used was 'bring and share', which is an event held once a month where people from different backgrounds bring food and integrate with one another, he finds it a great way to be with family and friends.
As a young citizen, what changes would you like to see in our town?
I would like to see more events and activities for young people like me, especially during the summer, it can be quite expensive to be travelling around. This would be a great revolution for our town, and also one of great need.
Joshua 26, Muslim from Nigeria
Joshua's views of local people in Boston, is one that portrays locals as not being very tolerant. When he is at his work place he notices that there's a passive identification towards foreigners, he stressed that any wrong that these groups of people do, it always seems to attribute to the fact that they are foreigners.
When Joshua first announced at work that he was a foreigner himself, the response to his statement was one of great shock, "you are a foreigner, but you are educated." This made him realize that there seems to be a misconception of what foreigners really are. Furthermore, he added, "This is why I will never feel like I am part of this town."
What do you think is necessary to change people's attitudes?
Joshua highlights the need for integration in our town, he echoed, "the population is growing, however, the town isn't!" People need to stop putting labels and actually learn more about each other and the different cultures that they bring with them, it is the only way we can adapt to immigration.
Are there any signs of integration amongst our locals?
"I suppose we could consider the fact that we can now see more British citizens utilizing foreign restaurants as well as doing their shopping in non-British markets. This could be grasped as a sign of March of progress, if you will."