We are taught that home and a house are two different aspects of one word. House is a place that has been built and can be crushed, while home can never be destroyed. We always carry it in our hearts, even if our feet have left the house. Home can survive without a house. I have seen it in the eyes of families whose houses have been demolished by storms and earthquakes in Japan. In the eyes of families in the countries where the war is present and, many have left their houses by force. However, I still see the ray of hope in their eyes. They have not lost it because the power was not in a house – a building made of bricks, stones or wood. The power was in that feeling of love and of being loved. Sometimes people confuse the place and that sense, thinking that they are interdependent, but nobody and nothing can take that feeling from us. If we do not have it yet, it always can be created by us regardless of the place.
In my opinion, nowadays we have reached the situation when the most valuable advantage is being free. In this case, being free from jail, or having freedom of speech is not what is in my mind. I am talking about being free from nationalism. In this globalized world in which we are in now, there are two ways to live. One can lead either to communication and international relationships between all societies, while the other can lead to xenophobia and consequently war. We have experienced the later so many times already that this mistake cannot be made again. I am tied with my country, Latvia, in some ways, but I do not belong to it. That is the way I decided to live my life.
I came to this understanding when I started to travel and encounter diversity. I think it is an important rule to be open to multiculturalism. Division into groups based on race, gender etc., called identity politics, are becoming more common in our societies. However, this is not a solution. Unfortunately, diversity is now being used against our common goal of being united. If we put an emphasis on our differences, we create a border around us.
At this moment I am not only Latvian. Before coming to the Pearson College, an international school in Canada with a mission of peace and sustainability, I was a puzzle of everything from the cultures I had encountered before: little pieces of Russian, German, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Greek, Croatian, Turkish and more. Every country I visited was another place to stop by and take a look inside its culture, traditions, and history. I never adopted another culture, but I definitely took pieces of the ones I had seen and built them into my jigsaw.
This first piece was Latvia. It appeared eighteen years ago, starting this game of puzzle making. It has its own image. Woods painted in dark and juicy green colours, all tones of green, miraculously changing to the red, yellow and orange when autumn comes, and hiding behind glittering snowflakes during winter. It has its own scent as well. This smell of newly-baked rye bread and mellifluous odour of blooming linden trees. It has its taste as well. The taste of home-made cheese and warm milk, the taste of fresh apples, pears, and plums, the taste of biezpiens1 that is made only in my region. And it embraces all senses of perception with a sound of nightingales, magpies, and sparrows. And with it comes such feelings as support, happiness, safety, love, trust. However, this piece of the puzzle felt alone for much of my life.
The second piece has an image of palm trees and colours reflected from bright flowers. It has a scent of salt sea and sweet lokum2. There is the sound of the nightlife and a market full of the merchants’ voices. And what I felt was energy, rush, and pulsation. It has a name -Turkey.
The pieces kept piling up as many more images of palm trees, conifer, dwarf forests, and blooming jasmines appeared in the streets of Paris.
The spectrum of the music and sounds of home now varies from slow and calm melodies to energetic and exhilarating songs played in Spain. The view of the gorgeous nature of Portugal gave me all the colours of the Pantone palette. My tongue knows the taste of Oscypek3, Pastés de nata4, Lithuanian šakotis and many more thanks to diversity I have heard, seen, tasted, smelled, and felt.
Nowadays we can observe that nationalism is slowly taking its bad side. At the end of the last century, it was used as hope and as a possibility for many small nations to fight for their independence, but now it is used to increase the distance between nations. And nationalism is one of the reasons that create instability in democracy. If people want peace around the world, it is our duty to be open to diversity as nationalism creates distance and fear.
Some countries do not have this possibility of encountering diversity as their nations are really homogenous. These circumstances become soil for the seed of nationalism. Creating places as international schools is a solution as they bring young minds together and make diversity a power to change the world for the better.
Now I am here at Pearson College. I am in a place where hundreds of worlds meet in one. I still carry my roots with me and I can decide where they will grow. I want to continue my puzzle because so many pieces can be found in this place. Yes, I do have a home, but it is more than one place, one building, same boundaries. Pearson College has become my home- another piece of this puzzle.
 Oscypek, Oszczypek is a smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk exclusively in the Tatra Mountains region of Poland. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscypek
- Biezpiens or quark is a type of fresh dairy product made by warming soured milk until the desired amount of curdling is met, and then straining it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quark_(dairy_product)
- Turkish delight or lokum is a family of confections based on a gel of starch and sugar. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_delight
- Oscypek, Oszczypek is a smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk exclusively in the Tatra Mountains region of Poland. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscypek
- Pastés de nata or Pastel de nata is a Portuguese egg tart pastry dusted with cinnamon. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pastel_de_nata