Natalia Ramirez '22
Embracing Social Responsibility and Being a "Third Culture Kid"
A "third culture kid" was something I was labeled often, referring to an individual who spent a significant part of the development years in multiple cultures different from their parents. "Where are you from?" was the question of my nightmares, making me wonder if they meant where I live, where I was born, or where my parents are from. I tried to explain to them that there was a long version and a short version. The eternal version would be that I was born in Mexico, my parents are Colombian, and I also lived in Costa Rica, California, Switzerland, Colombia, and now Massachusetts. I lived for four years in each of these places and yes, it was because of my dad’s job. The limited version is that my family is from Colombia, but I moved around a lot.
After living in five different countries and spending countless hours in boarding rooms and check-in counters, I developed an unusual relationship with airports. I identify with the excitement of travel for the unknown to be discovered and the blend of races, cultures and religions that an airport possesses. I look around and realize that an airport is as diverse as the UN and is a switchboard that transports people to their different destinations. It is a mecca for travelers and for people like me, who recognize that adventures are the best way to learn and grow. You learn more from the people you meet and the things you see than from the words you read in a book, so airports have been a launching pad for my adventures and a catalyst for my passion to become, as cheesy as it sounds, a citizen of the world.
Hearing people describe 'home' as the place where they’ve spent most of their lives and the place they feel happiest in, makes me consider the entire world as mine. My sister and I used to spend layovers watching people stroll, speed-walk, or sprint, heading to their respective destinations. To pass the time, we invented a game that consisted of creating a story for each person passing by. Even though it was an entertaining game, I knew nothing about their true situations or their real lives. These people come from different backgrounds within different countries, experiencing unique economic status, political environments, and historical contexts.
With this love I have for exploring comes the development of a social responsibility I feel obligated to fulfill. I grew up in a household where every action you take cannot come without a thought of how it affects others, and that the privileges I have been given are the opportunity to give back. Can I make a similar decision that will help someone else in the process? Is there an option that leads to a greater good? These questions can relate to the effects of my actions on the lives of the people I will encounter, because everything we do has a greater significance and every small decision we make has an impact in many ways.
This is simply the long story of me describing why I became an International Studies major and why it fills me with happiness more than anything else could. I struggled throughout my life with being a "third culture kid," but now I see it as a blessing that taught me more about myself and as an avenue towards the global perspective I will always have in life.
Natalia Ramirez '22