I live in the Netherlands. I was born here, as were my parents and grandparents, and great-grandparents. In secondary school I learned the foreign languages English, German and French. That was quite usual here in the 1960´s - although few dared to speak in a foreign language. Nowadays, someone who leaves secondary school speaks English fluently.
When I had a few German speaking loves, I trained myself to speak more and better in German.
In the 1970's there was some tension between Dutch and Germans, because the Netherlands were occupied by Germany from1940 till 1945. But among young people that you shared hobbies and interests, that played only a small role. And you could talk about this tension.
In the 1980's I grew an interest in American Indians, that lasted for 25 years. The main form of that was weekend gatherings with men that claimed to be Native medicine men, or even were so. From a website of (mainly white) defenders of American Native culture, I learned how much anger can be present at frontier between cultures. And how much misunderstanding, and how much fantasy.
In the 1990's I learned vipassana meditation from a Thai monk in Amsterdam. That still has an influence on how I deal with life.
Recently, my son got a Spanish love, I am learning Spanish again.
At the moment, I am reading the autobiography of a French diplomat, Dominique Moisi - yes, in French, I am proud to say. The writer sees a direct link between his personal life, and his international life as a diplomat. His personal life was international from before he was born. It appeals to me, because the same thing is happening to my son, who hopes to be a diplomat.
Here in the Netherlands, like in so many parts of Europe, there is a rise of a political movement of "My country first" - or "Away with the Foreigners". The funny thing is, that those "Dutchmen" are foreign to me. I have a great difficulty to understand them and to come into contact with them. And I do think that it is important to come into contact with them, to prevent bloodshed in the long term.
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