Back to your roots

Claudia Aalderink reflects on life, loss and starting afresh in a new country.

Image: A New Zealand and Dutch flag flutter in the wind.When immigrants move to a new country they leave behind a piece of their identity. Old traditions, family, and a way of life, all will change when arriving at the new destination. My family made such a move eight and a half years ago. Just the three of us, on New Years Eve 2005 waiting for our luggage to roll by on the baggage carousel at the airport. We were literally standing on the doorstep of a new life, a new year and a new adventure.

There are different reasons for moving to another country. Back in the 1950’s people moved to New Zealand to find a better life after the war. Encouraged by the Dutch government people were escaping a bad economy, high unemployment rates and housing shortages.

In those days, however, a move on such a scale meant moving forever resulting in heart-breaking goodbyes with the knowledge people would never see each other again. Now a day it seems much easier because of the technological progression. We can talk to each other on a daily base and it is even possible to see each other on a screen on the other side of the world. Much to the delight of far away grandparents, who miss out on their grandchildren’s achievements abroad.

Now we are part of a new culture, a new country and there is a certain sense of a ‘new’ belonging but you never really leave your background. We still talk Dutch at home, have traditional Dutch meals on a regular base and when the Dutch soccer team is winning, so are we! It does not matter how long you have been away, when a big disaster happens where many of the victims are from your home country, we feel the pain and the connection.

People die in horrible senseless wars all over the world every day and we should never forget that, but in all honesty we live our own lives and continue to do so without really thinking about it too much. Maybe that is because we are so used to hearing tragedies on the news every day.

Each lost life is one too many and I would like to use this platform to acknowledge all the people around the world who have lost their lives for the sake of other peoples arguments.

The Dutch men, women and many children who died in the plane disaster this week are people we as immigrants can easily identify with because we have all made that same journey at some stage. On the way to something great and fantastic, seeing family members again after a long time or finally being able to make that long planned trip that you had been saving for for so long.

I dedicate this column to them and all the other people killed on that sad day. They leave behind a memory of laughter and joy on that last day and that is how they should be remembered.

Claudia Aalderink produces Claudia’s Corner exclusively for N8N. A whimsical, weekly photographic column on anything that takes her fancy.

Check out her website here.

Claudia is also the featured artist of the month at the Garden Art Studio in Cambridge. More here.

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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