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Where Do You Come From?

Where do you come from?

I imagine kids like ours will have to give a long answer to that simple question.

Currently Jo has two passports (French and Indonesian), Lou holds three (French, Indonesian and American).

Jo was born in the Netherlands. Lou in the US.

Both have never lived in Indonesia or France.

Their father is French who is a quarter African (grandpa is a half-African French, grandma comes from Alsace)

Mother is Indonesian, mixed with chinese blood (from both grandpa and grandma sides).

Both father and mother grew-up outside their passport countries.

Jo and Lou themselves have been living in many cultures and different countries throughout their young lives.

They might feel they are a bit of everything. Or none of those.

Because three languages are active at home

Because kids eat French cheese brought by the father and Indonesian food prepared by mother

They also regularly visit their extended families in France and Indonesia

And experience Dutch, American, German and Australian cultures from the country they (used to) live in

They never know what it means to live in a 'single'

As they are  'multi', 'mixed', 'tainted', 'not pure'

Later in life, Jo and Lou might find it bizarre when hearing someone claims that his/her culture is the best

They may think an ethnic group or race is neither better or worse than the other

They probably will argue fiercely that every language is equally difficult and easy

Most likely they will also consider that no religion is good or bad

I imagine they are going to follow the footsteps of their parents to continue living globally

So they can attach and detach themselves from those 'singles'

As they are 'either', 'neither', 'everything', 'nothing'

In the end, kids like ours  might never be able to answer 'where do you come from?' in one sentence.


Inspired by Biking in Heels: You're So Brown and This Indonesian: Natural Discrimination


( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 16th, 2011 12:51 am (UTC)
What role does English play at home? Do Jo and Lou speak it to each other? Do they speak it to you and your husband, and if so, do you respond in English if they initiate a conversation in English, or in your respective languages?

I dream of one day having a multilingual multicultural household. I plan on living in Spain for several months starting later this year, and I'm hoping to eventually go to France to do a similar language program there, and then hopefully grad school abroad. If I meet my husband along the way, maybe I too will one day need to incorporate multiple languages into my personal life and not just my professional life.
Jun. 16th, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
Reve, how wonderful to live as a young adult outside your own country! Which part of Spain are you planning to go? French and Spain are both latin languages so I guess the immersions won't be harsh if you do live Spain then France.
Huuhui .. thinking about finding the right man? You might want to read one of those gender books before hand LOL.

Husband and I communicate in English. Kids learn English at their French school. Whenever hubby and I talk, kids will listen and join. Sometimes they join in English, sometimes in French or Indonesian (depending to whom they speak).

Kids play together mostly in Indonesian and French depending who are around them (me or hubby). Sometimes they also play in English.

I might shoot some videos showing these situations. It's rather complicated to explain in words.
(no subject) - reve119 - Jun. 16th, 2011 01:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - trilingual - Jun. 16th, 2011 07:03 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 16th, 2011 03:20 am (UTC)
Love it !
Walaupun ga se-complicated elo, kadang gua jg ngerasa jadi orang yg ga jelas. Di Indo dibilang cina, di cina dibilang bukan. Di sini jelas2 bukan Amrik. Anak2 gua mulai bingung kalo ditanya orang apa.. hahaha...
Jun. 16th, 2011 07:03 am (UTC)
Anak2 elo ada pasport US juga? Nasib imigran/global nomad memang begitu heheh
(no subject) - ckristanto - Jun. 16th, 2011 01:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - trilingual - Sep. 5th, 2011 09:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 16th, 2011 05:37 am (UTC)
A wonderful post.

You're kids are great by themselves, have extraordinary parents who provide them with the conditions to grow their personalities to the full.

Many children in the world have to cope with the restrictions of much more limited perspectives. Of the narrow mindedness of their environment that convert their local little truths into an absolute one.

(PS: I do think Finnish is much more difficult than Dutch though :))
Jun. 16th, 2011 07:06 am (UTC)
HEhehe to me, German is difficult already. But those who grow up with more than two languages from different roots (for example english, french and indonesian) might be able to crack the codes of complicated languages (such as Finnish and Latin) faster than the rest.
Thank you, Colson!
Jun. 16th, 2011 06:30 am (UTC)
trilingual here to
Our children are trilingual as well.Danish,English and German.
Jun. 16th, 2011 07:06 am (UTC)
Re: trilingual here to
It's wonderful isn't it?
Jun. 16th, 2011 07:20 am (UTC)
Great post
I'm tired to be defined by the colour of my skin, the form of my eyes or what accent I speak. People are so much more than that.

I'm glad to know that this will slowly change, at least in the near future as more and more people connect with each other despite their original distances and that people marry across racial boundaries and nation borders producing offsprings that couldn't exactly be classified into a specific race. The world is expanding and so should our mind.

Jun. 16th, 2011 08:56 am (UTC)
Re: Great post
Exactly. We live in an era where one could go from Australia to the US within 24 hours, where people from the south study in the north, workers from the east got seconded in the west, and vice versa. Everything should be beyond physical appearance and passport indeed! Thank you :D.
Jun. 16th, 2011 08:18 am (UTC)
I'm new to your blog but saw a link thisindonesian had posted and after her 'Natural Discrimination' post, I had a similar discussion with hubby about how our (future) kids would answer this questions. I was born in Taiwan but grew up in NZ and hubby is Franco-German (we have 4 passports and 4 languages between us). We currently live in France but are moving to Australia in the next few months. Hubby and I communicate in French/English, we have a 'pact' depending on the country we're in to speak the 'non dominant' to each other.

The kids will definitely have to be bilingual because my in-laws don't speak English and my parents French. Ideally, we'd like the kids to be quadra/multilingual, which I think could be a bit much to ask (because unfortunately, hubby's German family don't have much of a presence anymore) but I'm aiming for trilingual (between my parents and me, I think we could manage that), haha.

Jun. 16th, 2011 09:01 am (UTC)
Hi Anon! Wow ..you two are multi culti! Do you have a blog? It's always interesting to know other multilingual families! Raising kids multilingually is a science and art ... as long as the parents are consistent in using the method, quadralingual is very doable!
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Jun. 16th, 2011 01:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 16th, 2011 09:03 am (UTC)
This is a bit off topic but its a bit of social baggage from a 'suspension' society. Feels relevant to note that being of mixed race, people often suggest I have identity issues. I don't understand why you have to pick between two parts or yourself, instead of defining your own identity.
Jun. 16th, 2011 09:16 am (UTC)
Anon, I think it's rude to ask mixed people to pick one between the two. I have encountered groups of mixed people who create their own culture. Like you said, I think that's how it should: defining a new identity/their own identity.
Jun. 16th, 2011 11:55 am (UTC)
Hi Shant,
You guys should be written in the guinness records book hehehhe, like Raka always says that he should be written in it because in his 5th grade he has visited a lot of school.

Your family is just like our one world ... it is indeed difficult to define where you are all from. I can't imagine how racism can even grow in this one world like we all live in now. Who knows maybe my ancestor was an aborigin ?? I have their nose ....

Nice writing ...
regards, Anky

Jun. 17th, 2011 01:26 am (UTC)
Re: Hi Shant,
Oooh racism and prejudice are still very present everywhere. It's human nature to feel afraid of something unknown. When the society supports such fear, the prejudice will grow which might lead to racism behavior.
When will you guys leave for Germany?
thank you, Ky.
Jun. 16th, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC)
Hi Santi,
They might also give this kind of answer:

Jun. 17th, 2011 01:34 am (UTC)
Hahah the article is hilarious. Some people are curious about us. For example, some parents at my kids' school just assume I'm Australian (I have no idea why), and got very interested once they hear me speak Indonesian to my kids. They will then ask a series of questions and there goes those long explanations why I end up in OZ, married to a French, etc etc. Most of the time, it's fun to have such conversations (especially if the other party is also multi), but there are those days when people see me as 'extraordinary' or 'poor you moving all the time' after they got the answers. LOL.
Jun. 16th, 2011 08:23 pm (UTC)
Trilingual, your posts are as fascinating as your family. I wheheartwdly agree with your ideas re. multiculturalism. My own version is a little less cosmopolitan, I am Spanish, my husband is Franco-Spanish and we live in the UK. Our son has all 3 nationalities and understands all 3 languages (I speak Spanish to him, dad speaks French), although he mostly speaks Spanish and English, and code mixes a bit. He's 3 and a half. I'm curious to see whether he will choose one national identity as he grows up, or defines himself as an international child.
Jun. 16th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
Wholeheartedly. You know. *sigh*
(no subject) - trilingual - Jun. 17th, 2011 01:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 17th, 2011 04:06 am (UTC)
I love this! Well said! Your kids know what it's like to be citizens of the world and their world view will not be limited by religion, language, or location. My Mom grew up on army bases all over Soviet Asia, I grew up in three countries, and while I sometimes miss having "life long" friends, I wouldn't miss my experiences for the world and I know my Mom wouldn't either.
Jun. 17th, 2011 06:58 am (UTC)
We can't really have everything, can we? And yes, like you and your mom, I wouldn't trade my TCK upbringing with anything else ..
Jun. 24th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
Interesting! Does Indonesia allow a dual (or more) citizenship?
Jun. 28th, 2011 11:40 pm (UTC)
Nope. Minors born from a foreign parent may hold another passport but by 18 yo they have to declare whether they want to keep their Indonesian passport (and dropping the other(s))
Sep. 5th, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
really interesting
hello i found your blog by Google, and really it was the most amazing discovery i did tonight. I really enjoy all your article especially this one.
I'm french (from bordeaux) with german origins (i was fluent in german couple year ago, but i didn't practice for a long time so i forgot almost everything). I'll get married soon with an indonesian boy from Padang. So it's mixed future family.
Between us we talk most of the time in english but i'm learning bahasa indonesia and bahasa minang (for now i just can handle basic conversation). I'm trying to teach to my future husband french but he has some difficulties.
For our future kids we want to teach them our own language (french, indonesian, and minang) but also english.
I found your story really interesting and i can't to see my kids talking multi language.

If you agree, i really would like to share about multi cultural family, and also about wedding between french and indonesian.
If it doesn't bother you, and want to share with me that is my facebook Mélissa Decret (i'm the only one with this name), or that is my email melissa.decret@gmail.com

Sep. 5th, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
Re: really interesting
Hi Melissa ... good luck with your padang language and upcoming wedding!
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )

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