© 2017 Gina Vodegel

 

Relatives and pupils at the Vodegel dancing school in Bandung, Dutch-East Indies (1930)

 

Gina Vodegel (1963) is a freelance writer-journalist from Dutch Indo-European descent*. She grew up in Maastricht in the Netherlands and moved to Belgium more than a decade ago where she enjoys rural life with a bundle of furry friends (dogs and cats) she rescued herself.

* By referring to my ancestry, I pay homage to my grandparents and greatgrandparents in the former Dutch East Indies colony. They fell victim to changes in their society, the end of hundreds of years of colonial reign, an end that coincided with the atrocities of World War II. Even though I was born and raised in the Netherlands and only got to know my maternal grandmother, the stories of my family history were told and shared over the years. It wasn't until I was well in my thirties, with the internet as a helpful source of information, that I realized the impact of the events that had taken place, back then. My paternal greatgrandfather was forced to give up his dancing school and home, his son, my grandfather, was forced to work for the Japanese in order to be allowed to stay with his wife and four young children. My maternal grandfather was taken captive and sent to a Japanese prisoner camp. He was released towards the end of the war, but died not long after in hospital.

For them, I acknlowledge I am from Dutch Indo-European descent, even though in my own perspective one's identity does not depend on the color of one's skin, place of birth, native language or sociocultural environment.