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Rethinking 'Us' & 'Them': Integration and Diversity in Europe

09 Jul 2017, 06:13 PM

Us & Them

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My name is Sara and I'm American. This is a tough question to answer, because of course it depends on who we define as "us" and who we define as "them". In my own country, I would say that I am part of "us". My ancestors have been there since the 1600s. I speak the language fluently. Plus, my family practices the majority religion (Christianity). And in the US, looks matter. I am of German and Irish ancestry, so I have light skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair. Since I'm white, that also means it's easier for me to be part of "us".

But right now, I'm in Germany. Here, I'm not really part of "us" because I don't share the same cultural background and I don't even speak the language. But to be honest, I don't really feel like I'm part of "them" either. It seems that in Germany, Turkish and Arab people have been identified as "them", and I'm not part of either of those groups. Since my ancestors came from Germany, I look very German and I blend in very easily on the street. People assume that I'm German until I try to speak. If I had kids here and they learned the language, people would probably forget that they weren't German to begin with.

So what's interesting is, our identity as "us" or "them" is partly determined by our own feelings, and party defined by how others decide to perceive us.

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