[/QUOTE]The website doesn't credit where it got the article from, but the web sites address is Maria Teresa
[QUOTE]Grand Duchess Maria Teresa is a radiant example of multicultural Luxembourg
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg has a message for MoniTori:
“BUILDING A MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY DEMANDS TOLERANCE AND PATIENCE”
There is no question of the graceful presence of Her Royal Highness Maria Teresa, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg failing to catch the eye as she glides through the long halls of her palace to receive her Finnish guests. Only a daughter of Cuba can retain such a sense of rhythm when the musicians have put away their instruments! Her elegance is unshaken even when calling on her advisor in dulcet tones of Swiss French that leave a delicious and sustained impression on the soul of her language loving listener. When the discussion turns to her formative years in New York her eyes fill with happy childhood memories: of roller skating with her sister in Central Park and going to the zoo over and over again. Even so, there is no doubt whatsoever that the Grand Duchess now feels herself to be a Luxembourger to the very core, and she stresses this fundamental aspect of her own identity: “Without forgetting my background, I feel that I am one hundred percent Luxembourger. One thing that I most fervently admire about the country that has become my own is its capacity for receiving newcomers”.
Maria Teresa, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, has an analytical grasp of multicultural life and – surprisingly enough – is a highly experienced immigrant. She gently reminds the listener of her international background: “I have lived in four cultures and two continents”. Naturally the move to Luxembourg had a certain fairy tale character, for it was here that she found her very own Prince and a share in his realm.
It would nevertheless be wrong to assume that the multicultural life of Grand Duchess Maria Teresa has all been plain sailing. Maria Teresa Mestre y Batista was born in Havana before the Cuban revolution and lived there until she was three years old. In October 1959, however, her parents José Antonio Mestre and Maria Teresa Batista-Falla de Mestre decided to leave Cuba and move to New York. However, the move from revolutionary Cuba to the USA did not remain the family's sole endeavour, and after six years in New York they decided to move again and settle in Switzerland. This meant that even the young Maria Teresa had to make the effort familiar to many immigrants of normalising her life in a new country. At the same time she adopted the right attitude towards settling into a new culture: “My parents taught me that one should always be optimistic about the future and not languish in nostalgia for a past that no longer exists.”
We all possess the seeds of adaptation
Based on her own experience Grand Duchess Maria Teresa says that one of the most important qualities that help an immigrant to adapt to a new culture is the ability to cherish the right state of mind: “When a person comes to a new country, then no matter how that new country receives him the most important thing is that he retains an open mind. Every immigrant should tell himself that this is where I am, that I bring my own culture and customs with me, but that it is my duty to learn to understand new cultures and their customs.” Grand Duchess Maria Teresa expresses her sincerest gratitude to her parents for taking the trouble to stress to her the importance of the right attitude: “It's an attitude that has enabled me to feel content wherever I am.”
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa is fully aware of how challenging all of this can be in practice: “I stress the importance of the right attitude so much because I am speaking from my own experience. When I talk about cherishing the right frame of mind I also mean that the newcomer should not arrive simply with the attitude of here I am and this is how I shall remain. It is one's own desire to adapt that is the key to everything.” While attitude certainly helps in adapting to a new social system, the receiving country also bears considerable responsibility for the treatment of immigrants. Grand Duchess Maria Teresa also stresses that the receiving country should not be arrogant in its treatment of newcomers. “Mutual respect is necessary.”
Tolerance and patience are the keys to integration
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa finds that her multicultural life has shaped her personality in many ways. “It’s quite obvious that I am now quite different from how I would have been had I lived my whole life in one culture.” Any person is challenged by a life spent amidst many cultures, and this is equally true for Grand Duchess Maria Teresa after spending her early childhood in the USA and living as a young adult in Switzerland. However, she clearly considers the effort to be one that is well worth making: “In the long run it has greatly enriched my life.”
That aside, one cannot help but wonder whether destiny could have more clearly arranged the events in Miss Maria Teresa Mestre’s life. While studying social sciences at the University of Geneva she met a fellow student who turned out to be Henri, Crown Prince of Luxembourg. The homeland of the then Crown Prince and present Grand Duke just happened to be an extraordinarily multicultural state by general European standards. “Luxembourg is a unique country” the Duchess enthuses, when referring to the fact that as much as 37 per cent of the population are foreigners, mainly comprising immigrants from elsewhere in Europe. “Luxembourg has shown by example how extraordinarily enriching migrants can be to a country.”
Luxembourg has long ago fully understood that it takes time to integrate, and that one must show special patience with adult immigrants. “Things are already easier for the next generation.” The integration of the country’s Italian immigrant community into the mainstream life of Luxembourg has given Grand Duchess Maria Teresa particular cause for satisfaction. “I am convinced that the same thing will happen with our Portuguese immigrants.” Although second generation Italian Luxembourgers are an exceptionally firmly established part of Luxembourger society, their character remains strongly Italian. The people of Luxembourg do not seek to force the country’s immigrants into a single mould, but instead allow them to enrich the culture of their new country with their own cultural influences. “I have always admired the ability of Luxembourgers to view themselves with a high degree of objectivity. Due to the smallness and geographical location of the country, its people have mastered the art of adapting,” the Grand Duchess explains. In the same way, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa feels that she, too, has achieved this mastery – and this makes her a genuine Luxembourger. She also takes time to emphasise the importance of tolerance as the precious lifeblood of a multicultural society. “Everything is ultimately a matter of tolerance and respect for others, but it is also vital that people learn to be patient.” There is no way to force the pace of immigrant adaptation.
The life experience of the Grand Duchess is a national asset
Luxembourg’s sizeable foreign population has the collective satisfaction of knowing that their Grand Duchess is a woman who is capable of understanding multicultural Luxembourg and the life of an immigrant based on her own direct experience. Many people say that as a result of her international personal history the Grand Duchess has come to symbolise multicultural Luxembourg in the best possible way. “I am greatly honoured when those who have moved here from abroad are able to sense that I am really capable of identifying with them and of understanding their experiences,” she says, and the warmth and elegance of her presence is most noticeable as she declares: “I feel myself to be one hundred per cent a Luxembourger, but I am also everything that I have previously been through. I have retained my own experience of migration and of various countries and cultures.”