Alex

Ayoub

Where do you live?

 

I was born in Surrey, Kingston hospital. I live in Oxshott. I've lived there my whole life.

What's your ethnic background?

 

My mom is Korean, but she grew up in Guam. My dad is Lebanese and lived between France and Lebanon during his childhood till settling in london. 

 

What languages do you speak at home?

 

At home we mainly speak English as it's my dad’s first language and my mom is fluent as well. My mom speaks Korean, Mandarin and English and my dad speaks Lebanese, French and English.

Why can't you speak any of them?

 

When I was younger I could speak French, but since my grandma moved back to Lebanon I've stopped speaking French.

 

What type of food do you eat at home, I know you've said your mom is a good cook?

 

A LOT of Korean food, a lot of barbecues, probably the best dish she does is a teppanyaki. We bring out the grill and she gets out all these nice little sauces and spices and puts them in the meat, probably my favorite meal.

 

Do you eat any Lebanese food?

 

Yeah, usually we do that when my dad’s side of the family come over, but that's usually when we go to London and we just pick up from a Lebanese restaurant. My favourite Lebanese dish is probably kibbeh it's very good.

 

What is it?

 

Its mince meat in a coating, it's my favourite, but it's quite hard to find good kibbeh in London.

 

What about in Falmouth?

 

Impossible.

 

So being half Lebanese and half Korean, which half do you relate to more, if any?

 

People say I look more Lebanese, and I’m probably closer to that ethnic group just because I've neve been to Korea before, whilst I've been to Lebanon quite a few times. I’d say I see the Lebanese side of my family quite frequently compared to my Korean side.

Why have you not been to Korea?

 

After my mom lived in Guam, she moved to America to get citizenship, then to London to study. My mom’s side of the family all live in the US, and that’s a bit further than Lebanon, so we generally don't go there that much. My mum was born in Korea and moved to Guam when she was quite young so we don't have any family there.

 

Why is that?

 

My grandad moved to Guam because he didn't enjoy living in Korea, so they moved, and they ended up really enjoying Guam, as it's a small island that really fit their lifestyle, and they found out they could get citizenship in the US. As Guam became a US colony, so they could claim citizenship to help get jobs and stuff.

 

What would your mum identify as?

 

She’d identify as fully Korean, more than Guam or the US, but she has an American accent.

Explain your American accent?

 

I went to an international school, so I met a lot of people from around the world, and I'd say about 30% of my friends are american, and I guess my accent got mixed between that and other places around the world. 

 

Do you identify as British?

 

When people ask me I say yeah I'm British, but then when they ask what I am ethnically I say Lebanese and Korean, just because it's easier.

 

At Uni do you interact with people from your cultures?

 

...Sometimes, because I've never actually lived in Korea or Lebanon, I don't actively seek Korean or Lebanese people, but a lot of Korean & Lebanese people recognise that I look like I'm Korean/Lebanese, so I naturally start talking to them. I've met a few Lebanese people here, and a few Korean. I wouldn't say I'm really close with them, but because we're from the same ethnic background, it's kinda like ‘hey, how'd you end up in Falmouth, such a small place’.

 


Have you experienced any racial discrimination before? 

Oh yeah, a couple times, yeah just the standard stuff, people calling you ‘ch*nky’, ‘yellow’. In the Arab sense not as much, more Asian. I usually brush it off, I don't really mind it that much. Never a serious serious problem, that really upsets me, of course it's not nice to hear that people still stereotype like that, but it has happened before.

 

What about in Falmouth?

 

No, when it was happening, I was younger and the people were immature, not really open to different cultures yet, but in Uni people are a bit more open, and globalisation is bringing different regions of the world together more now.

How do you express your culture in your daily life?

 

I eat a LOT of Korean food, like a lot, and my mum always send me Asian food from our local Asian/Korean supermarket back home. I guess that really helps keep me in contact with that part of my life. It's good food, I enjoy eating it. With Lebanon, it's more when I visit and we always eat. It's the food.

 

Do you feel like when you go back to Lebanon, you're ‘Lebanese’?

 

When I go to Lebanon or see my Korean family, they all say I'm super British, and say I have a British accent. That's why when people ask ‘where you from’ I say the UK because that’s what they assume, maybe because of the way I talk and dress. 

Do you have any interest in learning your languages?

 

I really wanted to learn Arabic, as back home I had a few Arab friends, they would be speaking it and I tried to pick up a few phrases. It was always annoying that I couldn't speak one of the languages my parents could. 

 

What can you say?

 

In what Arab? ‘Kifak’, how are you doing, ‘Hamdu lil’Allah’ and ‘Sahtain’ I said a lot when I was younger, which is like ‘eat well/ keep eating’. My grandma and my grand uncle always telling me to eat. Korean not as many phrases, ‘Annyeonghaseyo’ which is how are you, and that’s pretty much it.

My mom’s best friend was Korean, she nannied me and she taught me how to play piano and would speak to me in Korean.

 

Anything else you want to say?

 

I find it interesting how, despite how my dad’s Lebanese and my mum Korean, I find it weird how they met in London. My mum living in Guam as well, such an isolated island. I've never experienced two people meeting from those regions. Especially during the Lebanese civil war, that's why my dad had to move to France, London back and forth and he ended up studying in London, at Kings and my mum was studying Law in London. And they just met.

Did your dad have to leave Lebanon because of the Civil war?

 

Yeah. Well he didn't have to, but it wasn’t safe anymore. So my dad and his family moved to London for a bit, because my grandma (paternal) didn't feel safe there, so they moved. 

 

Your mum is a US citizen, hypothetically you could be a US citizen?

 

Yeah I could, and I could probably claim it in Lebanon as well. But not in Korea as I have family in Lebanon. 

 

Doesn't Korea have compulsory conscription?

 

Yeah, but I don't have citizenship there thank God. I have a lot of friends right now who are doing that. It's 2 years I think, and this one guy is just absolutely huge now. It's crazy, it's crazy.


 

Interviewed by Albert

I've met a few Lebanese people here, and a few Korean. I wouldn't say I'm really close with them.

© Falmouth and Exeter Students' Union