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Gabriella van Rij

Video: A preview of the book "With All My Might"

We all want to be loved and accepted and to feel like we belong.

But how willing are we to extend the love, acceptance, and feeling of belonging that we ourselves so desperately desire to those we come in contact with; especially those whose language, skin coloring, religion, culture, and physical appearance are different than our own?

Perhaps no one is more qualified to discuss the subjects of tolerance and acceptance than Gabriella van Rij, author of With All My Might, an autobiographical account of her enormously challenging cross-cultural journey from the Pakistani orphanage where she lived as an infant and toddler to her new affluent adoptive Dutch parents.

"I was a very tiny, brown skinned Pakistani three-year-old with a lazy eye, and when I met my parents for the first time I could see that my new mother was quite disappointed with what I looked like," says van Rij. "I thought she might send me back to the orphanage, and I lived with that fear for many years while growing up."

As a child forced to suffer the taunts and bullying of her white-skinned European classmates, and later coldly shunned by her husband's parents due to her dark features, van Rij says she decided to write about her experiences and what she learned from them to challenge others to start thinking about the lingering existence of cultural intolerance.

"It is very easy to accept only the people that fit in your little world," says van Rij. "But if you step out and you accept the uniqueness of a complete stranger in every sense of the word, someone with another background, language, and culture, you become truly diverse in the acceptance of their uniqueness."

Learn more about the book and the author at!

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