Where are you from? Most have a relatively simple answer to that question, but myself and other children who are products of parents who have an unquenchable wanderlust have trouble answering it. I personally have trouble distinguishing if they mean where I was born, where I grew up, or where I currently reside because I have very different answers for each.
Family portrait taken in Guatemala, I am the little one.
Having been born in Guatemala, I guess I am technically Guatemalan. However, I do not carry a Guatemalan passport, memories of Guatemala, or any genetic connection to other Guatemalans. I was simply born in Guatemala where my parents were working at the time. That being said it is also a very beautiful country with a wealth of history and culture, which I would like to revisit someday.
Before I was even two years old my parents moved us to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia where we lived until I was almost ten years old. This is where I had my earliest childhood memories. My first words were even in Spanish that I had picked up from my nanny and maid. This is where I attended a Bolivian pre-school and later the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center. I remember running barefoot around my neighborhood with the neighborhood kids, climbing fruit trees and staying there for hours while eating fresh tropical fruit straight from the source. I also remember the crazy trips my parents would take us on in and around Bolivia, the amazing food, and the friends along the way. I ultimately have extremely fond memories of my unique upbringing in a very beautiful place. This is where I would choose to say I was from because it is so much a part of who I am.
Exploring Iguazu Falls in both Argentina and Brazil.
Then I could also say I am American. Sure I was not born here, but this is where my citizenship lies and where much of my education took place.
My parents moved us back to the United States in the summer or 2001. They both took up jobs in Washington D.C. and we moved to the Maryland suburbs. If you recall the fall of 2001 was not a good time for the D.C. area or the United States as a whole. First there was September 11th then there was the D.C. sniper. These events made the United States feel a lot less safe to us than living in South America. At the same time the United States rallied together and there was a strong sense of patriotism.
My time in the D.C. suburbs was tough and made me regret the fact that I had a different upbringing. It was difficult to fit in with other Latinos and even more difficult to fit in with Americans. My peers thought I was weird, and I was. Even school had me confused. I had to take extra English classes and I had to learn American customs that I had never been exposed to. The pledge of allegiance for instance was something that I had never experienced. For the first few weeks of school I pretended to know what I was doing and saying. It was at this time that I became very American and started to shy away from my Latina identity.
Hiding my Latina identity was something that I did for years until I entered college. I even took five years of French. Then at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County I met a lot of foreign students and realized that it was cool to be foreign. Students that knew other languages and had a wealth of foreign experience were looked at very favorably. I started taking Spanish classes, and Spanish came back to me very quickly. At the same time my parents were moving to Vermont. So naturally when two years into my studies I decided I wanted to take some time off to figure out what I really wanted to do, academically, I moved home to Vermont.
Now I attend Champlain College as a marketing and integrated advertising student and I am from Williston, Vermont. However, I am also from Guatemala, Bolivia, and Maryland. I am American, Guatemalan, and Bolivian. I am a Spanish speaker and an English speaker. I am uniquely Julia Nittler, the product of a wonderful wandering lifestyle, and as I advance into my professional career I hope I will have the opportunity to see even more of this beautiful world.