This I Believe

vanessa - New York, New York
Entered on June 22, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: citizenship

I believe in the power of multi-faceted identities.

I’m 26 years old and although I spent most of my life on a small island called Mauritius, I also consider myself French.

But what does being Mauritian or French mean? Is it because I’m a native French speaker that I can call myself French? I don’t think so. I studied in France for 5 years and I’d never felt so Mauritian as at that time. The way they speak, the way they behave, their accent, their eating habits, even the way they dress is different. I literally spent my first year at Uni trying to become a perfect French girl. But it never worked. I still had this tiny little thing, this je ne sais quoi that I couldn’t hide. And I remember the day that, looking at myself in a mirror, I decided to accept the fact that I was different and that speaking with an accent didn’t make me be a bad person.

Back in Mauritius for summer holidays, another issue popped up. I could see in the eyes of my Mauritian friends, who hadn’t left the island that something had changed. I had evolved in a completely different environment and that French experience had just added another dimension to my identity. I was no longer Mauritian, I would never be totally French, and I guess I have a multidimensional identity.

My journey around the world didn’t stop there since I also spent some time in Australia and Asia. I’m now in New York City. I have no idea where I could be next year but the only thing I know is that I consider myself a citizen of the world.

I believe in worldly people. Although every single one of us was born in a specific culture, with different family backgrounds, beliefs, and values, like tributaries we are enriched year after year with the environment we grow up in. Globalisation is not only about goods; it is also about people. The boundaries between cultures are no longer clear-cut. People are constantly interacting with one another and they continuously reshape their identities, without ever wiping off any layers, but simply by adding dimensions. Here is the magic of multidimensional human beings; we learn from the whole world without ever sacrificing any bit of our acquired identities. Today, I am proud to say: ‘I’m French-Mauritian, but part of me is also Asian and, since I obtained my masters degree in Australia, I can bet that the people I met out there strongly influenced my personal beliefs’. Who knows what New York City is offering me? Probably the whole world in my hands. It’s such a multi-ethnic city that living here is already a journey…