Multicultural Nature of Whistler

Experiencing Different Cultures

Written by: Alan Acosta

Every morning I take the bus, as I step onto the bus I start listening to people speaking in English. They speak in so many different ways even though it seems to be their first language, as I focus my attention I can hear Spanish and identify many other languages and many other I don’t even recognize! All these cultures in a 30 passengers bus, Whistler is so multicultural.

 I’ve traveled around a little myself, but I have never experienced such a cultural delight as I have in Whistler. Might be its small size, and its mountain sports that attract athletes and enthusiasts from all over the world. Whistler’s music and cuisine have been wonderful, but what truly nourishes me is the personal growth I’ve experienced as a consequence of this drastic cultural exchange from my home country of Mexico. 

My studies have brought me to Whistler for one year, during this year I have met people from all 5 continents.  When I first arrived, I found greeting people was a little confusing. As a Mexican, my natural way of saying “hi” is usually with a kiss on the cheek and a hug. Imagine how crazy it is to have all these cultures in the same place. I realized very quickly that there are many cultures that do not appreciate a kiss on the cheek. It’s kept me on my toes, reading the culture before saying ‘hi’!  At one point, I remember thinking that someone was angry with me because he spoke in a tone I culturally label as being mad. It turned out it’s just how he speaks in his culture.  My recommendation, don’t take anything too personal, and never be afraid of respectfully asking “What do you mean?”. That being said, you are not alone.  English is not the first language of many people in Whistler, so we are in the struggle together!

Whistler residents are so helpful. People are welcoming and happy to help or direct you to where you can solve your problem. After living here for a little bit, I found that many people migrate to Whistler. Our passion for nature and the outdoors brings us together and helps to rejuvenate the soul.I have learned that you should have a helping attitude every where you go. Just pop out of nowhere and help someone!

Living in a community with such multiculturality as Whistler has been a very unique experience with many teachings. Some as simple as learning to say “Hi” in many languages to their traditional food and music! Others are more philosophical and deep such as learning to accept one’s help and to be vulnerable. Then others as common as “love each other”. Some have been very easy to adopt and some have been a bit more challenging. I came here for school and left with so much more. My best lesson, is that human kind is similar, we are all searching for happiness and the desire to experience love.