Being the daughter of a South American mother and a European father, two hearts beat in my chest. Two very different and sometimes conflicting cultures have shaped my childhood and youth. And they continue to influence my attitude towards life and many questions of life: my relationships, my role as a woman in our society or my work attitude. But also, the ever-present wanderlust, which results from my lack of local roots, is part of my life and pulls me, as often as possible, out into the world.
Where I come from…
My father, a young German merchant, was sent by the company Bayer to the Venezuelan branch in 1961 to gain his first professional experience. On his first day at work, he met my mother, who worked as assistant for his boss. This is how the story of our family began. After my parents’ marriage, my brother was born in Venezuela. When the young family went to Argentina due to my father’s work, my sister was born in Buenos Aires. After a few years, my father was ordered back to Leverkusen to Bayer’s headquarters. There I finally saw the light of day. However, my parents moved back to Venezuela, so I spent kindergarten and elementary school in Caracas. Later, after a three-year stay in Brussels, I returned to Leverkusen, where I spent the rest of my teenage years.
How I ended up where I am now …
Perhaps it is due to our German-Venezuelan communication culture that I had to deal with how to make a difference with what I say to whom in which way from early on. On the one hand, there was the rational and thoughtful way of my father and on the other hand the spirited and passionate nature of my mother. In addition, there were no taboos in our home. We talked about everything. No topic was too embarrassing. I’ve been taught that you can say everything, that it just depends on how you say it.
So after we came to Germany from Venezuela – respectively Belgium – to live there from now on, some peace and quietness returned to my eventful life. I became a typical German teen and soon began my career orientation phase.
During my commercial education in the pharmaceutical industry, I liked the area of marketing best, so that I then spent some time in foreign sales of the company, before I started my business studies in Cologne. Not only there but also during my MBA studies in Oxford, I chose the focus marketing and communication. This paved the way for a career entry into marketing. In my subsequent jobs, I also encountered aspects of internal communication repeatedly. I observed that there were sometimes misunderstandings between employees or with their superiors, which sometimes led to tense relationships. Finally, I felt called to close these communication gaps and was allowed to work in this area at my last job before starting a family.
When my first daughter turned one year old, my husband took on a new professional challenge in Switzerland. So we moved to Remetschwil in the canton of Aargau. After my second daughter gradually reached the kindergarten age, I managed the professional re-entry into a communication agency through my private mothers’ network – an ideal continuation of my previous activities. It benefited me that I had used my parental leave to train myself in social media.
Where I’m going in the future …
Today I consider it a privilege to have grown up with such different cultures. As an adult, I can now cherry-pick whatever I like best from this German-Venezuelan cake. For one thing, besides English I have the choice between two languages: German and Spanish. On the other hand, I have taken on the orderliness and my German ancestors’ systematic-structured way of working and the passionate and emotional side of my Venezuelan family. In addition, I have a deep understanding of cultural differences and I do not only accept, but appreciate the resulting diversity of people.
The cherry picking continues. When my husband went to Switzerland for professional reasons, I was not aware that this wonderful country and its people are so different from us Germans. That was a wow-experience for me. I felt directly connected to the mentality and the essence of the Swiss in general. Respect, order, reliability, and consistency (still) prevail in this country. Not the individual, but the common good is always in the foreground. I sincerely hope that the Swiss can maintain these values.
I have always envied those who can call a certain place in the world their home. A place where they feel understood, where they feel under-equals, with all the memories of their childhood. A place where they feel rooted, no matter where they go in their lives. I have not had that feeling in any of the places I have lived. Therefore, I have learned not to look at my roots as something attached to a specific location. My sense of rootedness comes from the mix of different cultural values that I have come to appreciate throughout my life.
But gradually I realize that Switzerland is my true home. Here I can bring together and live out all components of my personality. This makes me very happy. Therefore, the answer to the question of where I am going to be in the future is very clear: I will stay here – this is my home and I sincerely wish for my children to take root here!