by Angelina Elopre, YENFiD
Being “international” is good, they say. Although this may be true for the most part, I know, from personal experience that growing up internationally also has its disadvantages. One of the greatest challenges and one of the most painful consequences of growing up as a third-culture kid is finding a sense of true belongingness.
Ever since I left the Philippines at the young age of seven, I have never been able to find the same sense of belongingness elsewhere. Regardless of where I go, of how long I stay, or of how much I try to fit in, I will always be seen and treated as a foreigner. Even when I’m back home in the Philippines, I cannot help but feel like an outsider, especially in my town where every one, including my family members, grew up together and share the same experiences that allow them to connect with each other at a deeper level that I would never able to reach.
Over time, I have learned to gradually accept the fact that I will always be an outsider in and out of my own home country. Though, deep inside, I continue to envy those who grew up in a tight-knit community, who grew up with their childhood friends and who share a close relationship with their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. I still quietly crave for that same sense of belongingness.
It was not until I discovered ENFiD that I was finally able to feel that I belonged to something larger. In ENFiD, I feel as if I am part of not just an international organization or community, but also a part of a family. In March of this year, I travelled halfway across the globe to intern for ENFiD in Ireland. As I have said to my family and friends before, and will continue to repeat over and over again, there, I felt a deeper sense of belonging with the Filipino community than anywhere else, working individuals who share the same interest and passion for our home country. When ENFiD invited me once again, this time to the general assembly in Germany, I was ecstatic and decided to sacrifice a few days of school ecstatic to reunite with my titas who I had met in Ireland (which, despite the extra work I have to do now, was well worth it!). Little did I know that the family I met was going to grow to include even more members: bunsos, ates, kuyas, more titas and titos. Interacting with the bunsos, ates and kuyas of YENFiD provided me with the chance to experience what it’s like to be a part of the Filipino youth, an experience that I feel I missed out on growing up, and provided me the chance to meet other third-culture Filipinos who share the same struggles as me. From the titas and titos of ENFiD, I received valuable career and life advice and words of motivation that I will forever hold dear to my heart. They taught me the importance of never forgetting one’s home country and serve as my inspiration to work closely with and give back to the Philippines in my future career. I will forever be grateful for these newfound friendships, as well as the experiences and the opportunities that ENFiD has given me. Thank you for welcoming me with open arms, for making me feel like I belong with the rest of you (despite living thousands of miles away) and for including me into your family. I am proud to be a part of ENFiD and cannot wait to witness it grow with success and achieve even greater accomplishments. To my new bunsos, ates, kuyas, titas and titos of ENFiD– until the next time!