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Nationality, identity and affiliation

This doesn't really fit in with my usual topics.

Granted, I have had a few “Dear Diary, …” moments that fit in neither of my usual categories but you just gotta branch out sometimes.

Now, a lot of you probably have different nationalities and ethnicities mixed together in your family.

You yourself are most likely a mix of a few different things.

Maybe you have several passports or speak different languages.

You may live in country that does not match your current nationality.

You may be trying to change your nationality because you feel more affiliated to a different one than the one you currently have.

The thing about “what you are, where you are from, where your parents are from, where you were born, …” kind of starts pretty early on.

Maybe not as early as kindergarden, because you have more important stuff to worry about then😋,

but as soon as elementary school hits, there it is…

Everybody experiences this in a different way of course.

For those of you who don’t know.

I am German. I was born in Germany and I am half American.

My only grandparent I ever had is my grandmother who was born in Łódź which is a part of Poland and her mother was born in Riga which is in Latvia.

So you could say that I have some east European roots mixed in there.

Now we know that if you’re American and your ancestors weren’t Native American, then essentially you also have European roots.

In school, whenever a new school year started and teachers did their:

first day-getting to know each other-question round and everybody said their name and where they lived, sometimes the nationality topic came up.

In German schools, odds are that there are a lot of kids with Turkish, or eastern European roots (Poland, Romania, Czech Republic).

But having a parent from the U.S. of A., . . .you bet that was cool.

And it kind of went like this:

Teacher: “And you what is your name?”

Me: “Stella Sage”

Teacher: “Sage, that sounds English”

Me: *shy grin* “Yes, my Daddy’s from America. NY, Long Island”

Class: “Ahh, cooool”

Teacher: “You must be really good in English then.”

Me: “Yeah, I guess.”

Every time. It was a reoccurring theme.

I was weirdly proud of it though.

I tried to speak with an as American accent as possible, memorized all 50 states + capitols and learned other stuff that I thought a “real American kid from Long Island” would know.

The song Yankee Doodle boy, what a nickel a dime and a quarter is,

the most famous baseball players, the Kennedy’s, how to say: coffee with a New Jersey accent,

Names of a couple of famous sports teams, what the electoral college is and how many home runs Babe Ruth hit.

It made me feel good to have that as part of my identity.

So what nationality and that feeling of belonging to a country can mean is something that you can become aware of quite early on.

When I got older, around grade 9-10, the differences between religions, countries, beliefs and ethnicities were discussed more in depth in school.

They were discussed openly and of course tolerance was always preached.

At this time I attended a “catholic school”.

Because we also had a lot of students who were Muslims, and there are generally many Muslims in Germany, the pillars and beliefs of the Islam,

next to other religions, was always taught about in school.

Once, me and a few girls from my class happened to touch on the subject of nationality/beliefs/religion during recess and ended up having a semi-heated discussion about it.

Part of the conversation were me, a German/Romanian, a German, and two German/Turkish girls.

The part of the the conversation with the two German/Turkish girls are the really interesting parts, so I will mainly talk about their points of view.

We’ll call one girl M. and the other girl Z.

It started with the topic of boys.

M. and Z. both said that they would only want to date a Turkish boy.

The other girls and me asked: Why only Turkish boys, what if you really like another boy?

M. and Z. were both set on that. Only Turkish boys. They wouldn’t even think it would be possible to be falling for another.

M. said that she knew she wanted to live in Turkey later.

I said: Cool, that sounds plausible. Is it really beautiful there? Did you fall in love with the country when you visited your family?

M.: No, I’ve never been to Turkey before.

I was baffled.

I asked her how she could know that she would want to move to a country she had never been to in her entire life?

She said: I just know that I want to live there. I am Turkish, Turkey is my home.

Me: But, you were born Germany. You know nothing about Turkey.

Maybe you wouldn’t even like it there. Maybe you won’t like the people or the atmosphere or…the tea? Don’t you want to visit first before you are dead set on this?

M.: No, I don’t.

Ok, so me and the other girls were a little confused.

Z. had a bit of a different opinion. She had been to Turkey before and knew that she loved it, but she wanted to stay in Germany.

Suddenly, out of nowhere M. exclaimed that she didn’t like Jews.

That was a jaw-drop moment.

We didn’t really know what to say because it came out of nowhere.

For me, that comment may have hit a bit closer to home than for the others.

First of all, because I get a bit more emotional about topics like these and second, because my Dads side of the family is Jewish.

Me and the other girls asked M. what made her have this opinion.

M.: I just don’t like them.

Us: What do you mean you don’t like THEM. They are not one big group of the exact same people. They are all different people who share the same religion just like Muslims.

M.: Yeah, but I just don’t like them.

Us: Has someone who is Jewish ever done or said something to you? M.: No.

Us: Do you even know anybody who is Jewish.

M.: *thinks* “No.”

That was a rude awakening to me of how set in their ways people are about their beliefs and don’t even question them in a conversation with another person who looks at that view point critically, matter of factly and challenges them to think about what they are saying.

Even though we are educated about so many different religions in school and are taught to be tolerant towards different beliefs,

that we should respect one another and live in harmony also with the ones we may disagree with.

Now, I have very different beliefs and views on these topics than M.,

but I can say without a doubt that, had there been an English speaking kid in my class on the first day,

I would have gone up to him/her first, just because I would have felt a sense of association and it would have made me feel good to talk to someone who speaks the same second language.

Certain beliefs and feelings are just rooted deeply in our societies and also individually in each person.

I find this topic really interesting and wanted to share this little anecdote.

What do you think about it?

Have you ever been in a similar situation?

I’d like to know. Feel free to send me a message on my Instagram @thrive_bynature

I'd like to share some of your stories😀

Thank you for reading💚

See ya next blog👋🏼

Xx Stella

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