Google+ Authentic Parenting: Citizen Of The World

Monday, September 20, 2010

Citizen Of The World

This post was written as a submission for the carnival on bilingualism.

When I was born, my parents - who are both Belgians too - lived in Greece. Later, they moved to Italy, only to move back to Belgium when I was a little over two years old.

Image: DMahendra on Flickr
Belgians are very much a local folk, they are first villagers before they are Belgian. So if you ask a person who lives in the village I grew up in, they'll be Koekelarenaar first, then West-Flemish, then Flemish and only then Belgian. Even though I have lived in my village for 14 years, and in my province for 16 years, so you can say most of my youth. I even spoke the dialect. Yet my family and I has always been and always will be foreigners in the village.
All through my life I have felt like I lacked roots. To me, that's a good thing, it makes that I can travel and move from country to country and never grieve leaving. But in conversations it is always difficult. When people ask me where I am from, I will say Belgium, but I can't identify with any specific region, and I wouldn't want to live in Belgium either.

Will my chilld have the same feeling of not belonging? She has lived in three countries so far and she's only two and four months. She will probably live in a great many more. Will she experience this worldliness as a good thing, or will she resent us for it?



  1. I think it is a good thing to be a global citizen!
    To be able to fit in anywhere, and be part of the global family. We should get away from labelling ourselves, because that leads to lots of discriminatory believes!

  2. Interesting question, something I also wonder about at times :) Maybe this goes differently with living in different countries rather than different regions of the same country?

    I don't know, but I had a great-aunt who moved from a village in northern Germany to one in the south. As a grown-up, so she never really learned the local dialect, and like you and your family she remained an outsider til the day she died.

    But our world has also changed a great deal, and the cross-cultural skills our kids are learning will come in handy. They must, no? You can pretty much watch the world become a more global place these days, and I'm not sure I can yet imagine what it will be like when the kids are adults.

  3. I think it depends what is 'normal'.

    I think it can be a problem if you are trying to live and/ or fit in in one rather parochial place. My home town felt very uncomfortable when I came back from abroad. It's nota village, and it was even built as a place for people to move to rather than be born in originally, and it is not 100% homogenous culturally. Nevertheless I was exotic and that was tiring. But if you are on the move a lot yourself and/ or living somewhere fairly cosmoplolitan like London it's an advantage. Then you are th normal one, and people who have never stepped out of their culture for more than a holiday are the odd ones out!


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