People always try to find a balance between blending in and standing out in the community. As an expatriate it is a given that you will be different to the people in your new home. To build a network you are going to look for relationships with people with whom you have “things” in common. This can be an interest, a hobby, culture or religion.
Two hundred and fifty years ago Reunion Island was inhabited. Since then people from all corners of the world have stranded here and started a new life. The community is a melting pot of east and west, Africa, Asia and Europe, Catholic, Muslim and Hindu. Today more than eight hundred thousand Réunionese people are living peacefully together. You would almost say that because of the diversity, nobody stands out.
Before I moved to Reunion Island, I followed a summer course French at the Centre for Modern Languages in Louvain. As an introductory game, we all had to decide on one word which would enable our fellow classmates to remember our name and background. I drew a Chameleon.
All I wanted was to blend in and build a network. My major roadblock was the French language and it happens to me regularly that people ask where I come from. Luckily it is based on honest curiosity, and Réunionese’s are in general interested in meeting new people. They all have a different background and family history. They know that what is important is that you share the present and build the future together…