This morning, at UN Ecumenical Chapel, we had a man from Southern Sudan come and speak to us. The Republic of Southern Sudan is the world’s “newest country”. The country was given formal independence from Sudan on 9th January, 2011, and is a country of great unrest.
This man spoke of the process of travelling to America, and the fact that he had applied for a visa for the US prior to Sudan’s independence, but his travel was after it. He described being told that he would need a new South Sudanese passport, and he was no longer a citizen of Sudan.
It got me thinking about identity, and the way in which we identify ourselves to others. Imagine the implications if the name of your country changed, or if the area you live in decided that they no longer belong to the land it is located in.
Being involved at the UN, I am regularly meeting people from other countries. Generally, the first question asked is “…and where are you from?”. While for many, this is an easy question to answer, for many it’s not so easy.
We live in an age of Global Citizenry – where migration between countries is much easier than it used to be, and where people pick up ideas and cultures as they travel. Australians, in particular, love to travel (http://tinyurl.com/3n2reph). Thomas Paine, a British writer, wrote “My country is the world, and my religion is to do good”. This is the way that many people think these days.
I’m not entirely sure what the point of this post is, other than to say that I’ve been thinking about identity, and what it means to be who you are, and to come from where you do. I’m interested to hear other people’s thoughts on identity and belonging… Feel free to comment!