Finding my culture in "French" culture

Iggy Takahashi-Brummer
March 26, 2016

First of all, I'll explain why France is in quotation marks in a little. Anyways, I am enrolled in a cultural/social/politics class at IES Abroad, called French Overseas Territories: A Model of Diversity Management. The first half of the semester was spent talking about the history of colonization/decolonization and other various aspects, but recently, we've dived into actually discussing French territories and their cultures and customs. This week, we've started talking about Wallis and Futuna, some islands in the Pacific near Fiji and their primary exports and customs. My professor went into detail about the importance of the coconut in the pacific, and I followed along with all my attention. It seemed as if most of my classmates didn't already know how the word coconut refers to the whole coconut that falls off the tree, and also the inside part that you see in the supermarkets. When the whole coconut falls off the tree, you have to break out the outer casing/shell, then remove the hairs (husking the coconut), and then break the inside coconut to gain access to the coconut water and meat. Now, a large aspect of the culture in Wallis and Futuna is ground, dried coconut meat. To grind the coconut meat into small little pieces kinda of resembling sawdust, you have to use a coconut grater. My professor brought in an example of this tool used to grate the coconut, since the idea and act of grating coconut would be a little foreign to us. I figured this coconut would be similar to a tool that is used in Guam for the same purpose, and of course, it was. In French (translated), this tool is literally called a coconut grater; in Chamorro, it's a kumzu. I was so excited to finally see something I could relate to and talk about! He passed it around the room and he asked "does anyone know what that's about? How to use it?" And of course I volunteered and said something like "yeah, it's used for husking and grating coconuts". He then asked me to demonstrate how to use it, and so I did! After class, I spoke to him about how surprising it was that the same weird tool was used in two different islands; as far as I knew, it existed only on Guam. I showed him a picture of the kumzu my parents have, that my aunt still uses to make a traditional Chamorro dish. He thought that it was cool that people still used this seemingly ancient tool, but there's nothing better. He then asked about some Polynesian shells, which I hope he will bring next week. I was just so astonished and happy that I could finally feel more connected to "French" culture. I know Wallis and Futuna have their own culture, but it's also French culture in a way too. I can't wait to see what other cultural aspects I can connect to here in France!

More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs

Iggy Takahashi-Brummer

<p>I&#39;m Iggy Takahashi, a junior studying biochemistry and French studies at the University of Portland and studying abroad in Nantes, France. I love baking, cooking, travelling, exploring, and of course spending time with my family and cats. I have traveled to Spain, China, and throughout the United States, and I hope to continue to do so after graduating!</p>

2016 Spring
Home University:
University of Portland
Biological Chemistry
French Language
Explore Blogs