At the Once Upon a Town festival in Maastricht, I read out letters from peers from other countries than the Netherlands about their sense of home and homeland. Nostalgia, forgotten dishes and stories from grandma all came up, but also plans for the future and worries that inspired and made us think.


Together with four students from Maastricht who all walk in a different part of the world, I started talking about our sense of home and homeland. We transformed those conversations into four anonymous letters to the people of Maastricht that I then read during the Once Upon a Town festival to every local I met. It was a research, an open conversation and an invitation to talk about togetherness in a world that consists of borders. After all, we are not that different in our hearts and our history. Diversity is what is and what should be celebrated.

Could be quite evident that home is where I grew up, where my family lives and where my culture is. It is a feeling, yes, I belong here. I can connect good and bad memories to places, to people, I recognize smells reminding me of my childhood. I love my homeland, I can cry listening a folk song, I feel it with my whole body. I feel resonation when I see pictures of my country, I hear a song, I see a painting. It is mine. My culture, my roots.

I feel proud when we achieve something together and I feel ashamed when something bad happens in the community or a bad decision is made.

I miss my home, I miss some people and the „spice” of the places, the humour of the people all the fun which cannot be found in Western Europe.

But what if I do not agree with all the cultural features in which I grew up anymore?

I do not miss the negativity, that people lost trust, the uncertainty which is in the air. The sadness on the face of the shop assistant. The jealous looks because you can have something that the others do not, and the fact that people do not even try to change. More complaining, less change.  Is it losing home when I cannot relate to it anymore?

– This is a part of one of the letters I read.

Once Upon a Town could be visited as a festival on 19 and 20 October 2019.