• Sarah D. PANDIA

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Updated: May 10, 2021

"The magic about home is that, it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back."

When people ask me where I'm from, I can never bring myself to provide a simple, straightforward answer. Hands down, it’s not that easy! And interestingly enough, the reactions I receive are really quite different from one another, all depending on which part of the world I'm in when being asked the latter question.

Where do I even start? First of all, I happen to carry not one, not two, but five different origins which have pretty much shaped my persona as well as my outlook on life. Not so coincidentally, the languages I speak fluently all belong to these different countries, too. In other words, it’s safe to say that I think and express myself through the lenses of these respective cultures.

I am Haitian by Birth.

I was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a small island in the Caribbean to a 7th-generation mulatto Haitian mother and a caucasian French father. Haiti is the country where I lived the longest, at least in consecutive years, during my childhood and teenage years. I moved back to Haiti as an adult for work over a couple of years as well. My native languages are both Haitian-Creole and French. And I very much identify to Haiti, Creole and Caribbean cultures, food and music. Its culture is deeply rooted in my memories and in my core being. Even though I never strike people as a Haitian in appearance, and I had to face a lot of racism and bullying for being white while growing up there, Haiti is Home to both my roots and ancestry.

I am French by Heritage.

My father and paternal family anchored in Bourgogne, France. I grew up there, too, for a certain part of my childhood and equally moved back to France as an adult for a few years. The French culture, language and unique outlook have forged my personality and opened my mind to a world of exploration, knowledge and critical thinking. The European mindset has seduced me in many ways, and France will always be Home to me.

I am American by Influence.

It should be known that the whole island of Haiti, the Haitian mentality, culture and language are very much influenced by the American world-view, simply by being situated in the Caribbean. Moreso, it is equally influenced by the French culture, seeing as Haiti is an ex-French colony. Not only that, but I spent some time growing up there and later returned to the United States for work. And thanks to the latter, I think and I express myself (mostly) in English today. I identify to the American culture and lifestyle because America has influenced a huge part of over several years while growing up. I remember feeling comfortable there, and with like-minded Americans, I could easily call the East Coast Home once again.

I am Dominican at Heart.

I lived in the Dominican Republic after graduating from High-School. This country has marked my independence and freedom as a young woman the most, and in drastically important ways. As both a child and teen, my family and I would often go to the Dominican Republic on summer vacations, but later on, I moved there for a longer stretch of time and the Latino culture was quick to engulf me into its deep and joyful ways. The Spanish language quickly surfaced from somewhere deep inside me, and honestly, I could’ve just stayed there forever. Made my life there. The Dominican Republic has been my “adoptive country,” so to speak, and has gifted me with a passion for Latin culture, languages, music and especially dance. I’ve called the Dominican Republic my Home for a long time… and secretly hope to move back there again one day.

I am Romanian by Marriage.

I actually met my husband in the Dominican Republic. We were both working for the same French multinational, and we brought our passionate romance around the world with us! We got married in Haiti and traveled to the South-Pacific Islands, South-East Asia and Western Europe together on work assignments. We went back and forth to his home country, Romania, for many years until we decided to settle down there for a while and have a child. I fell in love with Romania the instant I fell in love with my husband, of course, but while living there, Romania grew on me in ways I can’t even describe. Over the years, I’ve even learned how to speak Romanian fluently, and people there sometimes don't even realize I'm a foreigner anymore. Still today, I am in awe when it comes to Romanian traditions and landscapes. It is my Home, the birthplace of both my husband and my son, and even more importantly, my family’s Home as of now.

I think it’s important to mention that I’ve also lived in several other countries such as Moldova, Vanuatu and Myanmar, and I’ve visited well over 40 different countries in my life so far, but none of those have forged my identity like the ones mentioned above. I am a true citizen of Planet Earth. I am who I am because of my "multi-origins," and this unique blend of multiculturalism defines me, my actions and my decisions, every single day.

Sarah The Digital GypSea

Romania, June 2019