Saturday, March 11, 2006

Thoughts after International Women's Day celebration

Today’s words: Integration, Inburgering ( becoming a citizen ), Assimilation, Allochtoon ( foreigner ), Participation

I find myself returning once again to the subject of Integration as opposed to Assimilation. How, in this society we live in the word, “Allochtoon” has taken on so many negative aspects and how we as integrated members of this society cannot help but be motivated into action…namely by not allowing ourselves to be shut out but by taking the freedom granted to us to speak about our concerns.

Oh how we hate the negative connotations of that word "allochtoon". Especially in the manner in which the media has used it so that it becomes like a door slammed in the face of those it addresses.

This afternoon’s workshop and the ensuing discussions gave me so much food for thought. On the train ride home, I could not help thinking about how it is so easy to mistake assimilation as being integration.

I found myself thinking of Leny Strobel’s essays -- in particular her essay which refers to that essential “loob”.

How easy it is to lose this sense of “loob” when you are in a society that equates integration with assimilation. An interesting afternoon as we had a Dutchman in our group who provided us with input from the other side of the fence -- how Dutch society looks at the question of integration.

Indeed, in an ideal world, integration comes from both sides. Where the newcomer learns to integrate and adjust to the society it enters, but at the same time the society must provide an open door, a welcome acceptance of the newcomer and the baggage the newcomer brings with him.

Of course, I agree that in order to be well-adjusted to your new life, learning the language is essential, what I don’t agree with is how some will actually turn their backs on the culture they’ve lived with all their lives to embrace this Dutch culture…

I believe in a perfect balance wherein I embrace both of these cultures, while remaining myself. I still am and continue to be a Filipina, connected to my brothers and sisters by the ties of blood and history. Our roots go far deeper than language.

This is something I am seeing as I have a guest staying with me who is more like an adopted little sister as we share the same root of growing up in the mountains of Banaue, Ifugao. Our memories of the place has created a kinship that is like that of a blood relative. So, I say – she is to me, as a little sister.

I’d like to explore Leny’s thoughts on loob some more, but it’s a bit late over here and tomorrow is Sunday J


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