A dim sum brunch in Hong Kong,
seeing the last supper in Milan,
or floating in the Dead Sea.
The world has become a small
playground, and brings us closer.
Your revolutions, your tsunamis,
your new years celebrations,
your independence day.
I’m shocked, mourn, cry and celebrate
with you, as the internet brings your world
into my living room.
Our cultures, backgrounds, stories mix.
The blend is brilliant. Best of all worlds.
It’s what makes life interesting.
And still there are people who fear the other,
are afraid their culture will become
Not understanding that we make who we are.
We make our culture: it’s a mix of ideas
from near and far.
The best of all worlds.
Maybe, for me, there is no such thing as a national identity. Maybe I just have my personal identity, that is formed by all the influences in my life. Where my ancestor were born, where my parent were born, where I was born and grew up, where I live and have lived. And more importantly, the people in my life I interact with and the experiences gathered by living, travelling, reading, watching, talking. My identity is very personal, and maybe more importantly, cannot be taken away from me. It can be influenced by events, experiences, people; but that all will be filtered by that what has formed me and my identity until now. But then, how do I feel. Do I feel Dutch, Moluccan, French? And where is home? When I’m in The Netherlands, I don’t feel really at home. I feel comfortable, and it all feels very familiar, but home is where I live. And that’s Paris. Actually, it’s quite simple: I feel me. And I am open to new experiences and new places. And I bring my Dutch touch wherever I go, but it also has now a little French flair.
In our company it’s not unusual if you’re not French. The other obvious nationality being British, because that is, well, simply, the way it is. And so, a lot of my colleagues thought I was a Brit. By the quality of my French one can quickly assume that I am in any case not French, so, the general thought seemed to be, he must be English. And actually, people are quite suprised when I tell them I am Dutch.
To be honest, I don’t really care if people think me British, or Spanish, Italian, German or Belgian. But it made me think. Does this come from a lack of pride of my nationality, my country? I don’t go and introduce myself by saying, ‘I am dutch and my name is…’ I keep things simple and use my first name, mostly. That is what represents who I am. The rest, well, is bullocks. I strongly feel that where you are from is part of who you are, but it is never all that you are. And my ancestral lines from both sides arrived in Netherlands one and in the other case not much more than 4 generations before me. And yes, these backgrounds have partially formed me. But the do not make me more Dutch, French or Indonesian than I am.
Right now I consider myself mostly European. I have that old world culture engraved in my being. This means for me also that I feel at home in most European countries. And maybe if I could chose, I would have European as nationality. But that also wouldn’t change who I am. It would be an sign of who I am, but not a determining factor. I still wouldn’t introduce myself other than ‘hello, nice to meet you, I am…’