This week during my child’s sport training, a little girl about 9 years old slowly walked up to me. I’ve seen her at training for the past 6 months, but she’s never spoken to me and I’ve never spoken to her. I don’t think she knew that I could speak German. The parents and children at this training are very international which leads us to use English as our common language.
Out of nowhere, this little girl asked me in German where I was from after she heard me speaking to the trainer in German. I told her. She asked if I was born in Germany. I told her no that I had learned German many years ago from living in Germany and studying German. She looked confused.
In return, I asked her where she was from. She was obviously not of German heritage. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Ich bin Deutscher.” I asked her if she was born here and she said yes. She then asked me what my son was. I told her half German and half American. She repeated again that she was a German. I asked her where her parents were from. The smile left her face as she told me that her parents were Turkish. She said her parents couldn’t speak German and asked me why I could if I wasn’t born there. She continued by saying that she didn’t want to be Turkish, but rather German.
Without going into a long dialog that she wouldn’t understand, I tried to explain to her that we cannot choose who we are. We are born as we are and we should be proud of our heritage. She shook her head and said that it wasn’t good to be Turkish. She was ashamed to be herself. I had to control myself not to cry in front of this child who was so sure that being a German was better than being Turkish.
I hope my son grows up being proud of who he is and doesn’t want to rather be someone he isn’t. I hope our family and society gives him what he needs to be proud of his heritage.