Once upon a time, a migrant in Belgium: Interview with InterNations

“Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Belgium, etc.”

I have almost forgotten I gave an interview about my beginnings in Belgium – it was such a long time ago after all. But it is a nice way for me to travel back in time while sipping a coffee. I also forgot that this person travelling to a new country which was to become her home is me. A younger version of myself, restless, curious, ambitious and eager to take in everything that this new universe had to put on offer.

Things have changed in the meantime; 15 years have gone by. Now I am a full-time Belgian citizen, enjoying the privileges of free, border-less travel within Europe, for however long it lasts, and accessing many countries of the world without a visa. I never introduce myself upfront as Belgian, though, because here is the thing: somehow I will always be “stuck” in my immigrant condition, because I like it. “Neither here, nor there” suits me well but I realise that this country gives me this option. I have a choice here, to belong or not quite entirely. It is an open place for me to evolve whichever way I chose to and one that accepts me. And today more than ever, I think I might show some gratitude for this. Belgium left it up to me to become as Belgian as I desired. If anything, immigration is a fascinating thing, don’t you agree?

These were quite possibly my very first thoughts about how I felt about this place back in the days. Read the interview here:

Silvia: Explorer of the Everyday | InterNations

Where are you from?

San bushmen paintings, Drakensberg

San bushmen paintings, Drakensberg

This is the typical opening question to any conversation in Brussels, Belgium. It is not by chance: home to some of the most noteworthy European institutions, the city is full of temps or perms coming from everywhere. Today, an uncountable number of cities make room for expats as far as the world stretches. Some still don’t. While some people relocate for better comfort and on the pursuit of happiness, for others “migrate or die trying” seems to be the only option. Mankind is on the move.

Migration lies at the core of our survival as a species. 50,000 years ago, a handful of indigenous people of Southern Africa (the San, our common ancestors) undertook the journey of their lives: from one place to the other, through drought and ice, they walked and populated the Globe as diversely as we have it today. “Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey” is a fascinating documentary tracing back our origins, in time and space, placing humanity face-to-face with the reality that we all share the same genes.

There is no end to migration. I hope there is one to prejudice. “Old concepts of race are not only socially divisive; they are also scientifically wrong.” Watch and reflect.