Wednesday, January 5, 2011

East is East and West is West and Never the Twain Shall Meet...

...But there is neither East or West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they come from the ends of the earth!
~Rudyard Kipling

Dear Deutschland,

Amid all of cultures that I have blood ties to, I can honestly say the one that I most identified with was yours.  Never mind the Scottish last name and the Irish first name.  Kindly disregard the French Poseys or the English Blakemans and Taylors as significant parts of my genetic make-up.  And please overlook that my German-speaking ancestors actually came, more or less, from Switzerland.  Deep down, I still always felt that the majority of my culture and heritage was German.  The stories, the names, the traditions that most traveled down to me through the generations had ties close to Germany.  

So it was with great anticipation that I came to your fine country.  I kept thinking to myself, "Here I go, returning to the land of my fathers."  

Shamefully, I admit that when I saw myself returning to Germany, I imagined that people would even say, "Wow, you are so like us, I almost didn't recognize that you were American."  (This is shameful because they are the almost exact words that someone told my friend in Taiwan - words that broke my heart when I heard them - words that told me that I would never be anything but a 'white girl' to those whom I considered friends and family)  

You see, in Asia, where my heart ties run as deep as any blood ties, while I fought that and still fight their view of me, I understood it.  My roots weren't actually rooted in Eastern culture; my genes didn't have ties back to ancient China.  No matter how hard I tried I would never be one of them.  

But not in Germany, I proudly told myself.  I am German.  And as I looked around your country, I literally saw the family resemblance - so much so that one dear woman I came into contact with had features remarkably like my great aunt.  And how did you view me?  When my sister - who appears very German - introduced me, the reactions were varied but similar in strain, "You? German?  No!"  "But you look English not German"  "Your sister?!  Impossible...impossible.  No, really?"  You saw me as an outsider - as someone who never could have roots in your land.  It was a shocking wake-up call to say the least.  

Haha.  Serves me right for my conceit.  


Curiosity soon got the best of me and I wondered how Makoto fares in your midst.  So I eagerly looked around with the eyes of someone who doesn't belong.  I marveled at the people who looked Asian in ancestry who spoke to each other and others in flawless German.  I watched others interact with them and saw no indication that they saw them as outsiders or not a part of their culture.  Despite my few halting words in German and my sister's fluent German in an American accent, not one person blinked or smiled as though it was anything out of the ordinary.  

I could see Makoto making his place in your society - And fitting in -  despite his non Western European ancestry and his steadily-improving-but-not-perfect-yet German.  I thought about how he considers you to be his second home and how his love for you grows deeper the longer he remains in Wolfsburg.  And I understood it.  I could see it.  

And I wonder, if I were to come to live with you permanently, would you be as welcoming and kind to me as I feel and know you have been to Makoto and to Uchida and Kagawa?

Yes, definitely.


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