Sometimes you just have to write…
Our friend Mary Anne emigrated with her family to Australia a few years ago. I don’t know what the requirements for emigrating to Australia are, but they sure sounded complicated when they were preparing to emigrate. Holland, too, has pretty complicated and strict rules about who can receive a “green card” equivalent and be allowed to stay and work there.
I also don’t know anything about the next step: becoming an Australian citizen. Even though I now have Dutch citizenship, I also don’t know the requirements in Holland because they change the rules so frequently, usually in the direction of making it tougher to get citizenship.
What I DO know is that Australia does citizenship a lot better than Holland! When I got my citizenship — jumped through all the hoops, filled in all the forms, paid the fee — what did I get? A letter in the mail.
Mary Anne, on the other hand, got a ceremony. She got welcomed. There was a representative of the local government in an official-looking robe (picture to follow when I get home), there was a formal oath, there was a handshake, there was a bag of Australia-theme gifts (including a small flag and a jar of Vegemite). A woman sang the national anthem. And after that, there was tea and cakes.
Holland could learn from this! There’s no shame in seeing citizenship as a gift, a privilege, but also an accomplishment. It should be treated as something that matters.