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Cross-Cultural Couples Valentine’s Special!

By: Emma Kwee

It’s Valentine’s Day, the day that couples all over the world celebrate their love, surprise each other with flowers and chocolates…or forget to do so and will be reminded by their partners. Let’s see what some of our couples have been up to since we last met them in our cross-cultural couples series!

Siti and Benny with their son Kevin

Siti and Benny with their son Kevin

Who could forget this fun-loving couple? Siti is from Bandung, Indonesia and Benny is from Groningen, the Netherlands. Siti and Benny married in 2003 and have been living in Hoogezand, a small town near Groningen now for 7 years. They have one son, called Kevin Jan Firdaus.

The couple is doing fine. They find themselves in the heart of quite an unexpectedly severe winter in Holland. At the moment they are busy saving money to go on holiday to Indonesia.

Sita and Oka live on Bali, from where Sita sent us this update: ‘As a family we are doing fine. However, it is a bit difficult that our two daughters, Amba and Bika, are both in Europe. We miss them and they miss us. By the way they miss the Balinese climate just as much now that it is so cold in the Netherlands and even more so in Germany where Bika is presently (4h of February 13 degrees below zero during the day!). Thank God for Skype, allowing us to communicate fairly often with them without having to pay to high telephone bill.

Sita, Oka and daughters Bika (left) and Amba (right)

Sita, Oka and daughters Bika (left) and Amba (right)

The economic crisis seems to be less severe in Indonesia as its economy is not so well-integrated in the global economy. Still, as Oka works as a contractor involving foreign investment in housing and as a co-manager of a beautiful cruise ship (the Pearl of the Sea, Mutiara Laut), he is understandably worried that the crisis will affect his present sources of income negatively. Yet again, for the umpteenth time since we moved to Indonesia 21 years ago, he has to think about switching gear. Building for the local market seems an option worthwhile exploring.

As for me, I just finished my PH.D. thesis to be defended by the end of this year in the Netherlands. I should make plans for my own future as a professional historian and gender consultant. I need to make money! But somehow I am still in a ‘postpartum depression’ after finishing the thesis, as a friend of mine aptly coined it. I have not yet been able to formulate smart ideas. Help!

Aity and Stefan just got married, with Merlion on the background

Aity & Stefan with Merlion on the background

Stefan and Aity live in a small town northwest of Munich, Germany and sent the following update: ‘At the moment we are just dealing with our daily life. We are facing some problems with the German school system, which doesn’t really fit our Dennis. That is why we are looking for some solutions.

Our holiday is still some months away. We will drive to ‘Riesengebirge’ (a mountaineous area) in Czech, in June. In summer we will fly to Aegean Turkey, near Izmir and Bodrum. We will also go to Switzerland to visit our friend, the Godfather of Dennis, like every year.’

Kindeng lost her beloved husband in Jan, in 2009 due to a stroke. They were married for fifteen years and have two children, a daughter of fifteen and a son of nine. Kindeng now lives in Indonesia with her two children.

She shares her  difficulties in obtaining a Dutch residence permit with us: ‘Almost a year after my husband’s passing, I decided to go back to Holland, so my children could follow Dutch educationan and could be closer to their Dutch relatives. I applied for a residence permit, but unfortunately until now I haven’t had any reply. We have been waiting for over 2 years now.

The whole family

The whole family, in happier times...

This doesn’t sound positive, but it could also happen to other cross-cultural couples, so I wanted to share this experience. Watch Kindeng’s  full interview with Dutch broadcaster Radio Nederlandse Wereldomroep for more on this story.

Romano and Rochelle

Romano and Rochelle

Swiss/Italian-Filipino couple Romano and Rochelle are busy working and don’t have any special plans for Valentine’s Day.  Rochelle added that Romano’s culture is not so keen on celebrating Hearts’ Day. They have never been accustomed to celebrating Valentine’s Day.

‘We don’t really give a lot of brouhaha about that specific day; and as time passed, I’ve adopted that outlook too.’ They rightfully wonder why they should celebrate love on Valentine’s Day, why can they not celebrate their love on any given day..?

Rithy and Sylvia, who met in Cambodia will spend Valentines Day in Bangkok as a short stop on their way to Cambodia. ‘We are going to introduce our son Phiron to the Cambodian part of the family and our friends there and celebrate his first birthday in his second homeland. We are looking forward to it,’ Sylvia shares.

Sylvia and Rithy with Phiron

Sylvia and Rithy with Phiron

Happy Valentine’s from our couples and Latitudes! You can still join our cross-cultural family and get featured on Latitudes, by simply e-mailing us at Share your saga with our readers! In the meantime: Spread the Love…

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