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One of the most basic human needs is a sense of belonging. But when you grow up between different cultures, that sense of belonging can be an on-going quest - until it's not.

We sat down with Tara and asked her about the struggles - and blessings - of identifying with three cultures and the importance of learning to value one’s roots.

‘‘I was born to an Italian mother and an Irish father. After living in Italy for six years and spending a short period of time in the US, I moved to the Netherlands. It took me a while to settle in; the Netherlands didn’t feel like home for a long time. Growing up with different cultures was challenging at times, as I never felt that I fitted in anywhere. Whenever I visited Ireland, I was seen like more of an Italian than in Italy. The feeling of belonging was never fully present anywhere. But if I had to choose, I would say I identify with being Italian the most.’’
‘‘What I miss the most about Italy - despite always eating Italian at home - is the food culture. The ‘aperitivo’ at the end of the day, a good caffè, the delicious streetfood... Always at our dinner table is a piece of bread and pure salt - don’t forget to throw it over your left shoulder should you spill some, to get rid of bad luck.’’
‘‘I lost my dad at a young age, but I’ve always felt a strong connection to Ireland. My mom made sure of that - when I was little, she enrolled me in an Irish dance school. It became a big part of my life and I ended up dancing in the world championship. She had me playing Irish songs on the violin and told me stories about her time in Ireland. I’m very grateful for the relationship I have with my Irish relatives.’’
‘‘When meeting new people in Italy, I get asked a lot about my heritage. I used to find it difficult that people didn’t think I looked Italian - the freckles, the nose, the curls with a red glow, I guess that reveals my Irish side.’’
‘‘Even though I love my Italian and Irish heritage, I’m happy to live in the Netherlands. I don’t think I would appreciate Italy and Ireland as much if I would have lived there. I feel lucky to be part of and, more importantly, to have learned to belong to all three of my cultures.’’
Project by Yeelen Tavilla & Sandra Benningen
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