Let’s be honest - friendships can raise the entire spectrum of emotions in you. Adding multiculturalism to this, adds an entire dimension of its own to it.
I can tell you about each of my friendships over the years and how they were influenced by multiculturalism:
Take my best friend Maria from Highschool … we were typical teenage girls, we spend every minute together, talked for hours on the phone and we were part of each other’s universe almost 24/7. Her family came from Ex-Yugoslavia and they were a guestworkers in Germany.
At that moment I had not appreciated what that meant – it made no difference to me that they lived in a tiny apartment with a shared bathroom in the hallway and that her parents spoke little German. Their house and hearts were always open …
One summer we travelled by train to Greece and she was sent back to Germany as she did not have a visa for Greece. That moment was shocking for us and we were heartbroken …
Of course, I knew of visas, but to experience a separation so personally shaped me for life. Tears flowing down our cheeks, she had to turn back. The good news is that she was extremely resilient and followed me with a visa in hand just a few days later and we had a fabulous summer by the sea.
I could go on to tell you stories about my friendships that now span the world 🌎
My closest friends make their home in France, Switzerland, Canada, the US, Portugal and England. Some I have not seen for years due to the pandemic, but regular contact and common lived through experience bonds us and we have no worry about that distance.
But then there are the friendships that come to an end as it is the case with my friend Maria. Our lives were simply too different, and we no longer shared a common experience. She had kids early, I had mine later in life, I had moved to Canada and she had stayed in Germany. Money, long distance communication via airmail letters, expensive flights and her not being able to get a visa to Canada made it difficult for our friendship to last.
So now I think back with fondness of the years we were connected, but I have also accepted that time has gone on and that I now have wonderful friends in my life. Friends I have made over the years, with whom we share a more common life and understanding.