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All Communities Diaspora Diaries

Cultural heritage echoes through songs from students’ homelands

By Lillie Coussée

The power of music bridges a connection to the motherlands of Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) students from across the globe.

Sometimes students listen to songs—either from their home countries or in their native languages—to feel connected with their cultural heritage. Some TMU students said this music brings them closer to wherever they consider ‘home’ and connects them with family and friends all around the world.

Another beautiful feeling when listening to songs from your country is the way it can resurface nostalgic memories and give us a sense of home right here on campus!

Here are some of TMU students’ favourite cultural songs:

“A Cabritinha” by Quim Barreiros

Isabella Ganhao is a first-year early childhood studies student who was born in Canada but is of Portuguese descent. Her favourite song that reminds her of her heritage is called “A Cabritinha” by Portuguese Pimba artist Quim Barreiros. She said this traditional folk song brings back memories of her community getting together and dancing. 

“Portugal is a really small town so when there’s a dance, the whole community is there,” she said. 

“50 Palos” by Feid

Roy Moreira, a fourth-year engineering student, is of Ecuadorian descent. He said his favourite song is “50 Palos” by Colombian reggaetón artist Feid. Moreira shared that this is his go-to ‘pregame’ song before going out for a fun night with friends. Moreiera said Ecuador and Colombia have many cultural similarities, so they are all able to enjoy this song in their traditional language, Spanish. 

Moreira was born in Canada but grew up speaking Spanish. He added that listening to Spanish music expanded his knowledge of the language that he may have lost by growing up in an English-speaking country.

“A lot of the [language] that I lose from not being [in Ecuador] is learning a lot of slang words,” he said. “But I was missing how to actually speak with regular people.”

Moreira shared that this helps him stay connected with his Latino heritage as he can communicate using colloquial terminology rather than using traditional Spanish words all the time. 

“One Man” by Gaza Slim featuring Vybz Kartel

Jamaica Amor is a first-year early childhood studies student. She was born in Canada but raised in Jamaica until she was about eight years old. Listening to the song “One Man” by Gaza Slim featuring Jamaican dancehall artist Vybz Kartel brings back memories of growing up in Jamaica. 

“It just brings me back to my childhood listening to music back in Jamaica and hanging out with people who like music,” said Amor. 

“Nagada Sang Dhol” by Osman Mir and Shreya Ghoshal

Jaimit Gandhi is an international student from India in his first year of nursing at TMU. His favourite is the Garba song “Nagada Sang Dhol” by Osman Mir and Shreya Ghoshal. It’s a part of the Navaratri festival in India. ‘Navaratri,’ meaning ‘nine days’ in Sanskrit, is representative of the nine days that people all across India dance to specific Garba songs during the celebration.

“For nine days at night, we dance to specific songs and those are only based on Garba [songs],” he said. 

‘Garba’ means ‘womb’ in Sanskrit, and the festival celebrates feminine divinity. Gandhi said this song reminds him of dancing with his friends and family in big halls and gardens. Since this is his first year studying abroad in Canada, listening to this specific song brings him back to the memories of home. 

“Del” by Jawid Sharif

Marwah Azizi, said her favourite song, “Del” by Afghan pop artist Jawid Sharif, gives her a sense of reverse nostalgia. She is of Afghan descent and is in her fifth year of public health at TMU. 

She shared that “It’s romantic, but it also [gives me] that feeling of…the happiness that I haven’t experienced yet.” Listening to Sharif’s song brings her closer to experiencing that happiness in real time. 

For these students, listening to music in their traditional language or from their homeland evokes memories and brings them closer to various traditions of their cultures. While their music may be echoing throughout the TMU campus, these songs will always connect them back to their roots. 

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