“Where are you from?” People would ask me as they could not quite place me or my accent.
“I am an international citizen.” This answer would either elicit further questioning or a confused look as they walked away.
My answer was accurate. By the age of eighteen, I had lived in six different countries on five continents.
Our trek around the world was a direct consequence of my father’s job. Every few years, he was transferred to a different location and, of course, my mom, sisters and I followed him wherever he went.
My journey in this world began in San Jose, Costa Rica. In the last months of my mom’s pregnancy, she and my sisters relocated to her native land while my father moved ahead and opened the sales offices for Canadian Pacific Airlines in Portugal and then, Spain.
We all caught up with my father in Spain. My first passport was of me in my mom’s arm at six weeks old. From there we moved to Chile. Although both English and Spanish were spoken at home, I much preferred Spanish and refused to utter a word in English.
In Japan, I attended an English-speaking school. I was fluent in English within a couple of months aided by hearing English at home all my six years. From Japan we moved to Mexico then to Canada for six months back to Japan and then finally to Canada in 1976.
Before we moved permanently to Canada, I always said I was Canadian when asked my nationality. However, in Canada, I came to the realization that I was not only Canadian. My forming years encompassed of all the other countries I had lived in as well. I was an international citizen.
I experienced first hand that no matter what country we come from we are all the same. We have the same hopes and desires. We all want our lives to matter. We all want to be seen and be heard. We all want to love and be loved.
Too simplistic? Yes and no. It is that simple. For some of us, it takes a long time to come to this realization. It takes time to strip away all the learnings, beliefs and affiliations we’ve gathered through out the years.
Join me in becoming an international citizen. You’ll see the world in a different light.
Want to learn how being an international citizen led me back to Costa Rica? Check out our blog on July 25th to learn more.