Emma Gingerich doesn’t remember any joy in her childhood.
She grew up without electricity or running water, and took only one bath a week.
Education was so limited that to the best of her knowledge, the earth was flat. She didn’t even know how to speak fluent English, even though she grew up right in the heart of the US.
Emma belonged to one of the strictest Amish sects in the country, called the Swartzentruber, who speak a dialect of German. She didn’t know, and could barely communicate with anyone from the outside world.
Still, at the age of 18, she knew she had to leave.
In the Amish community, you can’t live between two worlds. You are either in, or you’re out. Emma knew she would never be a significant part of her family’s life again. She would be shunned, and forever separated from her parents and 12 siblings.
In order to be happy, to have something in life to look forward to in life, she called the number on a paper she had secretly acquired. A woman she didn’t know answered, and drove an hour to pick her up. She helped Emma settle into life outside the Amish world.
At that point, she didn’t even have a birth certificate or Social Security card. So before the US government would let her drive a car, hold a job, or even get an education, she had to essentially become a new citizen. During that time, she had to rely on good-hearted people who provided her a place to live, and food to eat.
That was over a decade ago, and Emma has hardly spoken to or seen her family since. On the rare occasions she does go back to check-in, she mainly speaks to her siblings; her parents do not accept her choice. She’s simply not welcome anymore.
Emma had to make a tough decision just to access modern conveniences like running water and electricity. She had to choose, just to be able to log onto the internet, make a phone call, and smile in church.
In other words, she was forced to choose between two identities… she had to be one, or the other. But not both.
This is a lot like citizenship in many countries.
In places like China, the government does not officially recognize ‘dual citizenship’. You can only have one passport, you can only be Chinese… in the same way that Emma’s community would only allow her to be Amish.
But other countries don’t force you to make that choice. They DO allow dual citizenship.
Venezuela is a great example. Even though that country has long been a nasty dictatorship, it does recognize dual citizenship… providing a path to safety for any Venezuelans who availed themselves of that opportunity before socialism and totalitarianism destroyed the economy.
And this is probably the most valuable thing about dual citizenship: it’s a fantastic insurance policy. No matter what happens in your home country, you’ll always have another place to go, to live, and to earn money.
If your home country ever becomes undesirable or unlivable like Venezuela, you don’t have to rely on the charity of others. You already have a Plan B exit strategy.
Yes, it’s possible this might be extraordinarily unlikely. You might look out your window and think, “I can’t imagine ever needing to leave here.” And it’s possible that remains true forever.
But the thing to bear in mind is that, with second citizenships, in most cases there is zero downside.
It’s like an insurance policy that has no annual premium, and one that can be passed down to future generations.
So even if you don’t ever need to rely on your second passport for anything other than a travel novelty, your grandchildren’s grandchildren will still inherit the same benefits.
So if something bad should happen in their lifetime… far out into the future… they’ll be better protected with a second passport because of the small efforts that you make today.
It’s very rare that we have a chance in life to make such a significant generational impact.
And just to be clear, most western countries (US, Canada, UK, etc.) recognize dual citizenship, so rest assured this is 100% legal if you’re a national of one of those countries.
If you’re interested in adding dual citizenship to your personal Plan B, you can start by checking out our free in-depth resource, Everything you need to know about Dual Citizenship in North America.