A decade away
Ten years ago, as an 18 year old, I left the Netherlands for a year of high school in the US. Little did I know the time I was about to spend in Arkansas would become one of the most intense experiences of my life. Right from the start, a lot of things went sideways. I ended up living with four different host families, was made to go to church three times a week and encountered a lot of racism and homophobia. Funny enough, I was culture shocked and felt right at home all at the same time. Coming from the Netherlands, the contrast couldn’t be bigger. Yet making a connection to my country surroundings and its people was easy. Despite our differences in background, I felt a connection with the people I met along the way on a deep and universal level. They have made a lasting impression on me and the South has endlessly fascinated me ever since.
After a decade, I decided to go back to revisit this precious time of my life. To portray my memories, the people and the South as I know it. With all that it entails: the good, the bad and the ugly. Being back was both beautiful and heartbreaking. Unfortunately I’ve lost multiple old classmates and friends to drug overdoses, suicide and car wrecks. It seems finding your way in life is not an easy task down South. In this series I want to show the South and its inhabitants as seen through my eyes, with all their contrast, beauty and struggle. It’s my declaration of love to a place and its people that will forever be my home.