I probably need to explain that. Instead of giving presents at Christmas or eating together on Christmas Eve, I give and receive gifts on 31 December and then we all eat together at home. How did that start? No idea, it’s always been tradition with us. It’s only recently that I’ve been able to explain this: I’m what you call ‘a third culture kid’. I grew up with the two different cultures of my parents as well as Dutch culture. That blend then creates a third culture. As a third culture kid (or even fourth culture kid, because my parents both come from different countries), it’s interesting to see how confusing that can be for other people when you don’t fit in a certain box.
I grew up in the Netherlands. I went to primary and secondary school here, and now I’m at university. I grew up with Dutch and non-Dutch friends, and I regularly went to dance and tennis lessons until I’d had enough. Sometimes I went with friends to after-school club, where we were given orange squash and a white roll with a slice of cheese. At the same time, I grew up with parties in the homes of Turkish friends of my parents, and every year I went to visit family in Iran. I also celebrate (Persian) new year in the spring, and I like to eat very late in the evening. But I regularly have chocolate vermicelli on bread for breakfast, and recently I had pancakes for dinner for the first time. I straddle three cultures, but I now feel comfortable with that. I’ve discovered its added value; it means that I’m connected with all the cultures and can move through life like a chameleon.
My full-length coat and women’s rights
Columnist and law student Mina Morkoç walked from Rotterdam Central Station to her home…
In recent weeks, I’ve been thinking about what this really means for me, not fitting into the boxes that others have created for me. Because if you don’t entirely fit one box, you really notice how much people tend to label each other and what preconceptions they project onto you.
In my first few weeks on the municipal council, I was often confused with another member. We don’t even look like each other, but we both have a migration background. Recently, someone thought I was a member of a party with lots of people with a migration background. Soon after that, a person of colour called me ‘Dutchified’ because of how I speak. People often have a certain expectation, a stereotype. But they sometimes get it wrong with me.
Sometimes that makes you feel as though you can never do it quite right – and that you need to prove that you’re just as much one as the other. Sometimes I have too much colour, my hair is too curly, or I make too many spelling mistakes. That’s then because I’m a foreigner. Sometimes I have too little colour, I’ve blow-dried my hair, or I speak too well. That’s then because I’m, apparently, Dutchified. One Mina has lots of privileges, the other very few. For me, it’s not a world problem, but I do find it tiring. Without asking, people make assumptions. A simple example is that during get-togethers, they assume that I don’t drink alcohol, although that’s not the case.
To those who preach inclusiveness, I’d certainly like to say that labelling must belong to the past. Due to preconceptions about background, sexuality, faith and privileges, you succeed in making someone feel unwanted. By being open towards others, you create connection.