A Story of Contrast

Kim Asenbeck - Brazil


July 10, 2012

This is a story of contrast: small and big, here and there, old and new.

My mother, Edna, is one of nine. I am convinced that in naming her children, my grandmother pulled out a book of baby names, flipped to “E”, and skimmed down the column, picking out names. My aunts and uncles, all eight of them, have names that also begin with “Ed.” Namely, Edinho, Edvan, Ednilson, Edilson, Edmara, Edgar, Edlaine, and Edwaldo.

In her youth, my mother called Sao Jose dos Campos—a city in Southern Brazil—home. At 21, my mother met my father, a German who called Bavaria home. Next in the story comes marriage, relocation to Germany, and the birth of a daughter.

That’s where I come in.

While my mother is one of nine, I am one of one. My name does not begin with “Ed.” I call neither Brazil, nor Germany, nor the United States—where I’ve lived for the last ten years of my life—home. To say I am homeless is both dramatic and literally incorrect, but metaphorically accurate.

There are several contrasting schools of thought regarding the meaning of the word home.  Some, for example, define home in terms of nationality. Yet for someone like me, who holds citizenship in both Germany and Brazil, and permanent residency in the United States, this approach is complicated.

Another more sentimental contingent believes that home is the place in which your childhood memories are made. But what if my memories are scattered across this globe, from east to west, north to south? Do I pick one memory, and call the space it occupies in my heart home? No, I call that mushy-gushy.

Finally, there’s John Lennon’s suggestion. In his song “Imagine,” the musician encourages his listener to envision a world in which there are no countries. In such a world, you and I would not be citizens of Cambodia, or Croatia, or Canada. We would be global citizens- each and every one of us. When asked where we were from, we would simply answer, “Planet Earth.”

This, to me, is definitive of the Global Citizen Year movement. I began by framing this story in the context of contrast—the contrast between my mother’s background and my own, between the varied meanings of home, and now, to conclude with, the contrast between past generations and a new generation of Global Citizens. Technology, globalization, and time have made it such that today’s leader leads much differently from her peers in the past. Today’s leader stands on a global stage—a stage to which Global Citizen Year and its mission serve as an analogous stairway.

In these coming months, this blog will be a virtual home of sorts: a place for me to log my adventures, update my audience on my progress and status, and to build a supporting community. I hope you will stay with me, reading along as I embark upon my Global Citizen Year and find my own home within this world.

Kim Asenbeck