Surinamese | Venezuelan/Curaçaoan

Photo credit: provided by Stephany

Photo credit: provided by Stephany

I identify as a mixed, heterosexual and spiritual woman. My mother is Surinamese but was born and raised abroad and my father is half Venezuelan and half Curaçaoan. His father was a Sephardic Jew who was born in Venezuela and spent his later life between Venezuela and Curaçao. My parents met on Curaçao and I spent a big part of my life on this Caribbean island. My upbringing was quite international as my extended family was spread over several countries, I started traveling at the age of two. As a teenager I moved to Amsterdam where I lived until my early twenties. Ever since I’ve spent a few months living in Tallinn and Rio de Janeiro, 1.5 years in Brussels and I currently work in Cairo.

Growing up I always knew I was mixed as it was very much talked about in my home. You can say that diversity was celebrated in my family. There wasn’t any specific tradition we celebrated, but my Surinamese, Venezuelan, Jewish and Curaçaoan side were all embraced. It made me very well aware of my cultural background from a very young age.

I haven’t experienced anything negative due to my cultural background and am very comfortable among all cultures and ethnic groups. I do, however, favor international communities where people generally tend to be more open minded and highly adaptive and where differences don’t matter. As a child my friends were either Surinamese, Dutch or mixed-race themselves and belonged to the international community, meaning that they eventually moved overseas. My friends now are very diverse in origin, sexuality, religion, lifestyle, social class and location.

I grew up with Dutch, English, Spanish, the Surinamese creole and the Curaçaoan creole. Dutch and English I speak fluently, Spanish I speak on an intermediate level and I have a basic knowledge of the creole languages. English is definitely my most dominant language.

I connect the most with Suriname as that was my home culture growing up. It was the food I ate, the children’s songs I listened to and the national anthem I sang. However, I feel the most local in Amsterdam as that’s the first place where I made friends with mostly locals. I’ve always had an affinity with Israel as well and now in my late twenties my interest in Venezuela has increased.

I have different answers regarding the question ‘where I’m from’ and it totally depends on my willingness to explain or the other person’s level of interest. My answers thus range from ‘Amsterdam’ or ‘Suriname’ to a full explanation of both of my parents’ cultures and which countries I grew up in. Generally, I don’t like this question as I simply don’t have a standard answer. My origin, birthplace, nationality, the countries I grew up in and where I currently live are all different countries.

I’m still an avid traveler and prefer an international life over a local one. With such a diverse background I eventually lack a true cultural identity and adapt to whatever place I travel or move to. I’m a cultural chameleon.