St johns mag august 2015

Page 19

Cutlure Shock E m b r a c i n g Yo u r L i f e A b r o a d

Have you ever felt homesick? Local business owner and Belgian, Bjorn Huyssman of Fly-Drive-Rent, a car service serving the First Coast, received a visit from a unique traveler this summer. Her name is Séverine Dehon and she is a Belgian living in the United States who decided to find a solution to her homesickness by writing an intercultural blog about Belgians living in the United States. She wanted to discover how they coped with the challenges of culture shock and homesickness and thought it would be fun to document her journey. Each time she meets a new Belgian friend, she interviews them, takes their portrait (she is a photographer) and also she asks them to sign her car, which is how her project, Sign My Car was born. The stories she has collected have helped her outgrow her difficulties and she hopes it will serve others who may be experiencing the same feelings.

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The production of Sign My Car! started in April 2015 and will be completed in 2016. Séverine is going to all 48 states of continental USA. Each time she meets another Belgian, she ask them to Sign Her Car! According to Séverine, “This project explores the struggles and joys of creating a new home in a foreign country through the lives of Belgian immigrants. It talks about finding a new balance between two worlds while remaining oneself. Through my interviews and photo-essays, I hope to build a bridge among cultures to promote multiculturalism, mutual respect and compassion.” She continued, “This journey has led me to the most amazing people. Every story I hear helps me overcome a difficulty and makes me a better person. And they help other people too.” Séverine has completed the Midwest and Southeast leg of her tour of the United States. It is interesting to hear about life in the United States from a Belgian’s perspective; what they love and what they find difficult. Bjorn says although it was challenging to get an entrepreneur’s VISA, it was worth it. “I never regret the move from Belgium to the United States.”. He loves the fact that everyone is freindly and since his business is driving, he appreciates the good road conditions. You can find more about this adventure on www. where you can click on the signatures to read their story and listen to their video blog. You can also follow Sign My Car! on Twitter and Facebook.

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