With more and more people traveling, moving abroad, experiencing international relationships and more new citizenships being issued every year everywhere, answering this simple question of “where are you from” has become not as easy as it was before.
I have met many “citizens of the world” who really struggle with this question. So, after one of my encounters with one of these people I started to wonder if, like many other places in the world, the whole meaning of the “where are you from” question would change or even disappear from our vocabulary in the near or distant future.
I would like to analyse this topic using a little story as an example.
Jana is German and has lived in Australia for many years. She speaks two languages fluently: German and English. After so many years living in Australia she actually became an Australian citizen.
In Australia, Jana meets Pierre, who is French and also speaks 2 languages: French and English.
Jana and Piere found each other and fell in love. The couple uses English to communicate to each other.
Within two years of the relationship Jana gets pregnant and gives birth to a beautiful little boy who they named Bob.
Bob was born in Australia but he was actually half German, half French, which enables him to actually be called Australian, French or German.
When Bob was 6, Piere is transferred with his family to America for work. Remember, Bob now speaks 3 languages and has been learning 3 different cultures. Now he is about to be exposed to a third one and he is only 6.
Although Bob can actually answer the question “Where are you from” using 3 different answers without being a lie, now that he is a teenager in the USA he really looks like a typical American boy. Oh well, who would blame him? He has spent 10 years of his life in the USA after all. Would he be becoming an American?
Bob now is an adult and, following his parents steps from the past, he decides to go abroad. Destination: Barcelona. He could have chosen any other part of the world since he actually speaks 3 languages fluently but he chooses the challenge.
In Spain Bob meets Maria. Bob and Maria get married, changing his plans to return to USA. Soon Maria will find herself pregnant. Bob now speaks 4 languages and he is about to have a baby. Would this baby be a 5 nationality baby?
Let’s summarize what is going on here:
1. Bob was born from a duo-nationality relationship in a 3rd country of choice of his parents.
2. Bob grew up being exposed to two very different cultures: He speaks the languages, knows the food, has friends from 2 nationalities, celebrates the holidays, spends holidays abroad and understands the values of each country.
3. But… Bob is also American. He went to school in America, learned American English, the customs of the country… he has an American passport.
4. Bob goes to Spain and marries a Spanish woman. He knows the language, the customs; he’s got a Spanish family. He is about to have a Spanish baby…
Would this baby really be called Spanish? If the baby has contact with his grandparents and all the others from his dad’s side of the family, he will learn other languages, he will start traveling at the very early stages of his life and all of the international world will become very common to him. Does he really need to choose only one nationality?
This is not a fictitious story. This is real life! I, myself know many “Bobs”. I have friends who refer to their kids as half this half that”. And they really are half/half!
How about Bob? How should he be answering the where are you from question?
Well, if the question will disappear in the near or distant future or just change in its essence, the idea of having multi nationality kids who actually belong to the world makes me smile….
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