By Sierra Bein

Who are you? And What makes you, you? This is the unit that grade 12 English classes are exploring: Identity. Your identity is a compilation of everything that has touched your life. Whether you were in control of it or not, everything affects you in one way or another. In fact, as the classes discovered, most of what shapes us is out of our control. Things such as our family, life experiences, social class and ethnicity have a heavy impact on who we become; and none of them are tangible.

To some it is disconcerting that everything they are is out of their control. It might be a hard idea for most people to grasp, that they have no choice in what they are deep down. This lack of direction in our identity is what keeps it forever changing. No one is the exact same person they were a year ago.

After the classes watched Born Into Brothels, much discussion was held about how we cannot escape our identity. Born Into Brothels is a documentary about the children of prostitutes in Calcutta, and trying to get them out of the brothels.

Zana Briski, the director of the documentary, gets the children to use a camera to take pictures of their life. Giving the children a camera, was allowing the children to have an outlet to express themselves. Classes also have begun learning about the need for us to express who we are through many means. Why do you do activities that you enjoy? Is it a means of expressing yourself? If it is a sport, art, even video games, all these activities aid us in letting our emotions out and channeling them.

Although at first, the identity unit seems fluffy, it has proven to be a deep and interesting subject. Even if you are not studying the identity unit, try to think about who you are. Are there key experiences in your life that have shaped you? Do you feel that your family has been a great influence on the person you are today? We might take it for granted, but there are many who know nothing about where they come from. Why do you think it is important that you know who you are and where you come from?