“We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.” – Jimmy Carter
It’s interesting when I look back at my childhood, I never particularly noticed that my family dynamic may have been slightly different than what was considered ‘the norm’ (whatever that means, right?). I think in a sense I did always feel different or maybe even out of place, though I could never quite put my finger on it.
To me, my mother and father were just that. Mom and dad, the fact that my brother had a slightly darker, beautiful, golden complexion and I a quite fairer one, seemed normal. Speaking a mix of two languages at home and four different languages on a daily basis seemed obvious. Adding to that a Dominican great-grandmother who would spoil everyone with amazing cooking and the relatively multicultural setting of an island like Aruba, made all this just feel, well, normal. And granted, it is normal, at least, it is my normal. However, realizing the effect of such a multi-cultural upbringing came much later.
I am the product of two very different cultures (Aruban mother & Dutch father) coming together in love and life, and it took me moving to another country to experience this as a truly beautiful and even fascinating thing. Or to even really become aware of some sort of “difference” to begin with.
Though I was blessed to be born and raised on my beautiful island Aruba, and though it is a tiny speck in the Caribbean sea with an incredibly diverse population, differences did not go unnoticed or at least, unmentioned.
The fact that my hair was blonde and complexion lighter would be pointed out on occasion. The fact that my father was ‘foreign’ would be brought up every now and then. The other side of the spectrum, the Dutch side, was no different. Differences would be pointed out every once in a while, like the fact that I had an accent when I spoke Dutch or how exotic my mother looked. And as I would hear more stories of how my parents met and started their journey together, I started to realize how much magnificent diversity there really is in my family and upbringing.
The point is, that throughout my life the multicultural dynamic of my upbringing has always played a role, though I had never really realized to what extent. Moving to Amsterdam not only truly brought this to my awareness but also brought with it a new appreciation for all the layers within my DNA.
The more I grow and become aware of the way I was raised by two people from different worlds, intertwined by multiple cultures, and the more I get to know myself, the more I feel truly lucky to have ‘the best of both worlds’. Even the ‘not so best’ parts. Like being so in between the two that you don’t necessarily feel like you belong to either entirely.
I without a doubt feel like a true Aruban island girl. Born and raised, the place that has always been my home, the place I grew up on with my family, the place all my childhood memories are, the place my heart longs for when it’s been too long, the place my family still resides.
The beauty about being Aruban is that there actually isn’t really such a thing as looking Aruban anymore (though I’m sure some could argue this). The population on the island has grown into such a beautiful mix and blend of races and cultures, that in my opinion being Aruban simply means being a mix of a bunch of stuff and loving and respecting the island you were born on in the purest and most authentic way. So being born and raised there seems to have been in true divine order.
I have become truly humbled by all the layers of all the cultures in my blood and in my upbringing. I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to be part of such a beautiful mix of life and to have been truly enriched by this diversity.
It has without a doubt brought extra depth to my life in the most unique and beautiful way, it is such an immense part of my identity and discovering and fully embracing this has been a true journey. In everything I do and say, in the way I think and operate, this meshing of cultures is felt from my core. And for that, I am truly grateful.
Love & Light,