Belonging to the World by Judithe Registre
When one is born in one country, raised in another, and spends the majority of her formative and adult life moving around and living in different countries, home is not just a place. I have lived in nine countries, and have worked in and traveled to more than three times that. After spending so much time in so many different places, the concept of home has become complicated. Home has ceased to be a single place; instead, it is a combination of parts—feelings, senses, textures, and impressions. Home has become multidimensional.
Home is everywhere. Most times I feel like I belong in the world. The world should be a place that I should have access to, and I should be able to move about freely. I know I’m being idealistic here. I know the world does not quite operate that way. We are citizens of countries. But for me, home is not just where my passport says that I belong.
Home is a feeling. For me, home is a feeling much more than it is a place. Home is the love and acceptance of my dear friends and family. Home is knowing myself and accepting myself. Home is supporting those around me and being supported by them. It is knowing that I belong. Home is the love that I have with life—that joie de vivre. Home is vitality. Home is the feeling that anything is possible (especially after a run).
Home is kindness. It’s the company of kind people and the feeling of respect and consideration. It’s a place where I feel comfortable, based on principles like justice, equality, kindness, consideration, and fairness. It’s the feeling of optimism. It’s hope. It’s the sound of laughter, the wind blowing, the hug of a lover. Home is enduring, intimate bonds, and strong relationships.
Home is the feel of sunshine on my face. Ideally, the weather at home is hot. As long as the sun is shining, I can make a place home.
Home is values. We all want to live to our highest values, and we want a world that reflects this. Home is having the courage and persistence to strive for that world. Home is starting over again while still continuing on your path and purpose.
Home is Haiti. Because I was born and raised in Haiti until I was the beautiful and confusing age of 12, the heart of my home will always be there. When I was little, visiting my grandmother in Haiti, we took time to listen to birds in the morning. We ran around outdoors in the dark of night, without electricity, playing hide and seek under the moon. That feeling of being with nature, of connecting to the earth and to myself, is home to me. Home is where I can hear the silence and grandeur of the universe.
Home is anything that I associate with Haiti and joy of my childhood. It’s the taste of mangoes—the taste of the earth, a taste that tells me God exists. Home is colors that bring me joy—yellow, the color of the mango, and blue, the color of the ocean. Home is the smell of lemongrass, and the smell of my grandmother's coffee in the morning.
Home is Washington, D.C. One of the things that I have acquired as a result of frequent moving is a deep sense of the receptiveness of a place for all to belong. I can read and feel the environment, the energy, the rhythm, and the texture of a place. And I can sense whether or not its core value is one of inclusion. For me, home is a place that possesses this core value. It’s a place where there's diversity, acceptance, and openness.
Idealistically, spiritually, and emotionally, I can be home in many places, but physically I can only be in one. Right now, D.C. is that place. My home in D.C. gives me comfort in terms of physical location and assets. D.C. is my base. My home there gives me peace by design. It is where I regroup. D.C. was the first place I lived after college. When I arrived in D.C. from Boston, I remember feeling distinctly comfortable. D.C. immediately struck me as a place where I could just be—where I could be myself and move around and be comfortable. There is a certain openness and possibility to this place. The D.C. environment is one in which people of different races and backgrounds move about without the rigid sense of unspoken segregation that you so often find in other cities.
Home is people. Having lived in so many places, I have fundamentally acquired a sense that I can make and be at home any place. But is it really true, is it really so? Can any place have me? I know that not any place can have me. So home is where I am at the time that I am there with the people whose company brings me calm and joy, in noise and in silence. Home is being a-good-company and being in-good-company. Home is the company of people whose insights and perspective I appreciate, whose views of the world inspire me and who I inspire. Home is the friend you haven’t talked to for years and then can pick up from where you left off.
Home is our humanity. Home is so many things. The idea that we could all find home in however we describe it is really what keeps me motivated to continue working on social justice, gender justice, and social progress. Home for me is what I want to do, what I work on doing. Home is a world that values all of us in our uniqueness.
Home is where we have peace, and where we know that we can wake up everyday without fear of harassment or being killed, and know that our needs are being met. We can wake up knowing that our loved ones will be cared for, we will be cared for, and we can meet our needs and have access to opportunities to realize our aspirations.
My work is to contribute to creating a world where we can all be recognized in our human dignity, a world where we can all be at home. Home is being recognized, home is being heard and seen, home is being understood. Home is a world where we can all enjoy the idea and experience of homes, in our skin, in our residences, and in our communities with full human dignity.
Home is being me, whole as I am, yet always in evolution, discovering who I am yet to be and who I am becoming in an environment that can nurture the seed of being me.
For me, that is home!
About Judithe Registre: Judithe is a Global Gender Equality Champion, Founder of Inclusivus and Host of The Get InPowered Podcast. For over 20 years, she has worked in international development to advance human progress through equal opportunities for all, especially excluded populations such as girls and women. With Inclusiuvs and The Get InPowered Podcast, Judithe is creating a platform where gender equality, social justice, and social progress issues are powered by stories of our humanity, especially from those at the front lines and most affected by injustice and inequity. She facilitates the amplification of community voices and stories for social good and philanthropic innovation. To learn more about Judithe and her work visit Inclusivus.org.