I am a mutt, a Heinz 57 if you will.  My dad is American and my mom is German.  I have family on both sides of the Atlantic.  I hold citizenships in the US and Germany (I guess I should finally get that passport).  If we had a large family reunion, my family wouldn’t be able to have a real conversation because the Germans speak no English and the Americans speak no German.  For a long time when I was younger, I struggled with my identity because I wasn’t 100 percent of any nationality.      

Until I was 7, I lived in various parts of Germany and went to pre-school there and had German friends, but I also went to American elementary school and had American friends.  I could blend into the culture.  My mom’s entire family is over there, and before I moved to the US, I could switch between German and English with no struggle what so ever.  Hell, I was my dad’s translator because at that time his German was not so great. 

When we finally moved to Georgia, I was embarrassed to be different.  I didn’t want to be the weird foreign girl with the funny name.  I wanted to be a Jessica, Amy or Kelly and blend into the group of American kids.  I tried as hard as I could to hide the German side of me (even though my name totally gave it away).  I stopped speaking in German.  My mom would ask me something in German, and I would answer in English.  I was in elementary school and I really didn’t want to stand out.       

Fast forward a few years to high school, and my feelings had totally changed.  I no longer wanted to blend into the crowd, instead I wanted to stand out.  I stopped caring about what other people thought of me and did my own thing.  My weird name became cool.  People knew who I was because I was the only one in a school of thousands.  People never had to use my last name to figure out who I was.  There were never 5 Bings in a class.  If I forgot my last name on my homework, the teacher could still give me a grade since he/she knew who I was.  It was awesome. 

Now as I think back to the time when I was an uncertain kid and pre-teen, I could kick myself for letting my German get away from me.  I still understand a lot and I can hold a decent conversation with people, but sometimes it is a struggle.  I forget the meanings of simple words or can’t think of how to say a certain phrase.  I can read and write it a little, but I need help from my mom or sister (S has been taking German since 8th grade and is majoring in it now) because I never took it in school.  My high school in Georgia didn’t offer it, so I took French (which I minored in but can’t speak that well because I was embarrassed that I would suck).  At times I find it hard to communicate with my German grandparents (Oma and Opa), and that makes me really sad.  I can’t tell them everything I want to because I can’t find the words to express myself.      

I am trying to better my German.  There is this girl I know who is working here, and she is from Germany.  We have started hanging out and I’m hoping my German will improve some once we start hanging out more. 

The moral of this post is:  Be proud of your heritage and never try to hide it.  I’m Heinz 57, and I’m glad!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

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