I’ve been back in North America for almost a month now. From busing across Europe, to the flight to Toronto, to my train ride home to Ottawa, and my flight back out to North Dakota, I’ve had quite the whirlwind adventure. Through the hustle and bustle of constantly moving from place to place, I have adopted a mentality I have never before found myself able to grasp.
I’m not a patriotic person. In fact, as a dual citizen, the concept of being patriotic becomes both more diluted and more complex. Which country do I identify more with? What is identity in culture? How can I be proud of coming from a first-world country? The latter question is the most troubling to me in the question of patriotism. However my mentality, as aforementioned, has come to a heightened state of existence.
Throughout our travels in Europe, I found myself captivated by flags. When we landed in Spain it was hard to believe we were in another country. Obviously it looks nothing like New Brunswick, but it doesn’t look entirely foreign either. It wasn’t until I saw the Spanish flag blowing in the wind that I fully realized we had made it. This theme was consistent for me on the trip. Each new place was made real to me by each new waving flag. Each culture, beautifully unique and captivating in its own way. Each place diverse and rich in history. Each place worthy of its identity as a nation. Though much was good, taking in so much culture slowly wore on me, and throughout the travels, I grew a little more weary day by day.
Something about traveling in Europe really brings out the beauty of calling Canada your home. Everyone there seems to have such a strong respect for Canada, such a strong sense of friendship. It wasn’t until Canada day in Paris that I found myself actually homesick for Canada. The real shock came to me in the homeland.
After returning to Canada and staying with Liam’s family in Kitchener a couple of nights, I began my trek home by train to Ottawa. I was in a sort of traveler’s shock. I was tired, but not worn out. Content, but ready to be home. Alongside my train, about two hours into the ride, a Canadian flag was waving in the wind atop a pole to the west. This moment was the most Canadian I’ve ever felt in my life. The peace dawned on me that no matter where I go, Canada is back home waiting for me. A strong, secure nation where I have family and friends. A stationary place to rest and regain myself before traveling again. For the first time in my life I think I truly understand the concept of national pride, though my version is without any sense of supremacy. I am simply thankful to have a home like Canada.
So here I find myself back to working in a western-themed town in North Dakota, located in my birth country. Back to being known as ‘the Canadian’, and for the first time with a sense of national pride without arrogance. Each morning at work, just after raising the American flag, I get to raise the Canadian one and remember what flags represent.
– Madi Smith