You wouldn’t believe how many people ask me whether I’m thinking about ‘going home’ with the whole Brexit debate going on. And my answer, every single time, is “Yes, of course, every day I am thinking about going home, to Darfield, you know, where we live…”.
People seem to forget that your country of origin is not necessarily your ‘home’. Home is where my bed is, my sofa, my kitchen, my books, and, to summarize, where I feel at home as soon as I walk through the door, or even when I just turn onto our street driving back from wherever. Home is where I throw my shoes in a corner, or under the coffee table, where I put on the kettle, and where I launch myself onto the sofa to spend a lovely quiet night, or invite friends for a lovely dinner.
But apparently that is not enough. Cue: Brexit, and people saying that if I really saw this as my home, I’d apply for British citizenship, or would at least consider it (as I’m not here long enough to do so: minimum is 10 years, I’ve only been here for 6). To some people I’m a migrant who wants to enjoy the benefits, but will not take responsibility when I have to. And even though I’d like to say that I don’t really care about those opinions, in a way I do. Because even though I’m not one to be particularly ‘proud of my nationality’ or something else that is just ‘given’ to me by chance (I could have been born in Belgium, Germany, or even the UK), I’m also not one to ‘give up’ my nationality for another one just to please some people (the Dutch Government does not allow for dual citizenship if you voluntarily take on another).
You see, I consider myself a citizen of the world, and I do my best to improve this world one tiny step at the time. At the moment, I’m in the UK, considering this my home at the time, and trying to, through my work and in my spare time, contribute to a better society. If in 10 years time my husband and I feel it is time to move on to another country, or perhaps back to the Netherlands, who knows, what is British citizenship going to do for me then? And would I be expected to apply for citizenship in whatever country we end up in? That seems even more ridiculous than just standing your ground and asking for people to ‘judge’ you on the basis of your individual actions, and not based on what passport cover you might have or not have.
Yet, Brexit is still a thing, I’m still considered a ‘bargaining chip’, and I’m still looking for work. I would love to think that my job hunt is not affected by scaremongering and a foolish fear of ‘the Other’ in the field that I’m hoping to be employed in, but still, I’m not a 100% certain things will ‘work out’. After all, we’re all witnessing a Trump presidency and Brexit negotiations, two soul-destroying events that ‘the majority’ did not see coming. It is perhaps a gut feeling, fuelled by what I read in the news, and on social media (stop reading the comments!!!!!) and the events that have shown us that the unthinkable can happen.
I often joke that I have an overnight bag at the ready for when they come and kick us out. People often think I’m serious about that, as they also seem to fear that there is a slim chance that EU-citizens are indeed asked to leave. If anything, if I’m indeed being ‘kicked out’, I can only hope that the person from whom I was otherwise ‘taking a job’ (as the argument goes) will work with as much passion and commitment towards a more inclusive and equal society where ‘the Other’, as a stereotype, does no longer exist, and where academia embraces and values individual and community, non-academic, knowledge to help us forward. We cannot and should not want to do anything ‘alone’, even though we might be tempted to think we can and should. Brexit, anyone?
Today is the day of “One Day Without Us”, a day designed to show the country what might happen if all or many migrants would be asked to leave. Follow them on Twitter (@1DayWithoutUs/#1DayWithoutUs) or Facebook .