Wednesday, February 13, 2013
How One Slovak Gal Gained An International Family
A random idea crossed my mind today (they tend to do it ever so often) and continued to grow into a neat realization about how one can unexpectedly go from a family with deep roots in one nation only to a family that is widely international.
I grew up in Slovakia and as far as I am aware, my family tree is as Slovak as it gets. Granted, considering the history and the size (or lack of) of the country, if I were to dig deeper I would probably discover a flavor of Austro-Hungarian Empire in my blood, but geographically speaking, that is not exactly overly exotic.
So there I was, a fourth grader safely tucked behind the iron curtain, jealous of my friends who had a Czech speaking parent or a Hungarian speaking Grandmother (at that age and point in time it felt exotic enough).
Fast forward a few years and meet the family I am a part of now. First my sister married a German and lives right outside of Berlin. Then I married a guy who spent his life bouncing between Denmark and the United States. Throw in his Italian Grandmother and Czech Grandfather, don't forget about me still being Slovak, but living in California, and wish my kids good luck when asked about their heritage.
For that reason, nationalism does not make much sense to me. Citizenship, passports and borders are subjects I respect, but can't feel passionate about. When I get asked about becoming an American citizen and gaining voting rights, it is not because I feel so strongly Slovak that I can't bring myself to apply for American citizenship, it is just that being Slovak, or American, or Danish, or Hottentot does not truly matter to me. What matters to me is the beauty of living with people of different backgrounds, cultures and experiences and seeing them get along, without prejudice or bias. That's what I can be passionate about, and that's what I am thankful for every day.