‘Where are you from?’ That’s probably the most frequent question I have been asked in my life. When I tell people that I’m from Germany, the second most-frequent question is: ‘I meant, where are your parents from?’
With the years I found fun in making people guess from where I am. Of course nobody ever guessed right. I don’t want to torture you guys, so to make it quick and dirty: My mother is originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina (a state in former Yugoslavia in the southern-east of Europe) and my father is from Sri Lanka (an island south of India). I have to add that my father takes pride in being a Malay, a Sri Lankan with ancestors from Java, Indonesia. My parents raised us in English and German. Nonetheless, you will hear a mix of Serbo-Croatian, Malay and Singhalese, too, if you enter our house.
My life has always been about my looks and my name. If there’s something I know, then it’s the life in between different cultures. I experience them on a daily basis, they flow through my blood, are in my everyday thought.
Sometimes people ask me as ‘what’ I consider myself. I have been thinking about this, over and over again. There was a time when being with Germans made me feel very Sri Lankan. When I was with Sri Lankans I felt like I was Bosnian. With Bosnians I felt German. I didn’t seem to fit in any group. It took some time and a lot of experience and thinking to define myself. Truth is, I am a bit of everything – I have the hot-temper of a Bosnian, the reliability of a German, the serenity of a Sri Lankan…I could make an entire list of my cultural traits. One could say now, that these are only stereotypes and that you cannot put people in a box. Well, usually I’d agree on this, but experience has taught me that most of the time stereotypes prove themselves to be true.
Too often in my life I have been excluded from my ‘groups’. As a child and teen I really suffered from this. Who doesn’t want to feel accepted? That was the time in my life when I thought I belonged everywhere and nowhere. I felt lost. I would lie if I said that I never experienced racism, be it hidden or obvious. Best example is the skin color issue. At home I am considered dark skinned, abroad I am the ‘white girl’. To put things straight, if a color really is necessary to describe me, I’d choose caramel or honey. Anyway, what’s with the color issue? I have all colors in me and when it comes down to it, I’m made of flesh and blood, just like anyone else.
Racism is a very sensitive topic to me. My parents taught me that neither your skin color, nor your nationality, nor educational background, nor religion nor anything else makes you superior to another person. I guess they know best: my dad is dark, my mom is fair. My dad is from Asia, my mom from Europe. My dad is Muslim, my mom was catholic when they met. But that again is another story.
Now, after travelling to places alone, meeting people from around the world and a little more life experience, I know what I am. To put it in Chaka’s and Whitney’s words:
‘I’m every woman.’
Guys, if you didn’t realize by now: This is the future. The earth ball grows smaller, distances become shorter, people more mobile. In future people like me won’t be exotic anymore. We will find more and more couples like my parents. People from different cultures will mingle with each other and it won’t be anything extraordinary. People are going global already. And that’s what I consider myself: a Global Citizen. And I’m proud to be a mix!