Story Published in April 2015 | Updated in January 2016
I am Séverine Dehon. I am the producer and photographer behind SignMyCar!
I was born in Brussels but grew up in a region called La Gaume on the border with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. I spent most of my Belgian life in Arlon and its surrounding areas. It gave me the taste for long walks in the forest and long journeys by trains. Growing up in a place that is so close to the borders of three countries gave me the taste of travel and adventures. I graduated with a Major in Tourism and Travel Sciences in 2011.
I moved to the US just after my graduation. At that time, I was married to a US citizen. We had met in Germany in a school of language in 2008. My parents had sent me to Heidelberg to practice my German as I was failing in class. This is the story on how I became bilingual in French/English instead of French/German. In a nutshell, I am in the United States because I am terrible at German...
After getting married in 2009, the plan was to stay permanently in Belgium. But after two years, my spouse was unhappy there. So after my graduation, we moved to Kansas City, his home city. I had always wanted to live abroad anyways. After a few months of honeymoon, things got real; mostly on the worst side.
My first years in the US are very dark. Kansas City is very landlocked. It is impossible to go somewhere really different unless you fly. Kansas City is also conservative and very religious. I come from a progressive and atheist background. Adjusting to my new environment was really hard and lonely. I felt terrible for a couple years. Moving abroad really changes you. The sudden maturity you reach has the ability to make you outgrow most of your relationships. Many other things happened and I ended up filing for divorce in 2013.
I stayed in Kansas City because I didn’t want a never-ending international divorce. By the time the divorce was official, I had discovered that the United States of Séverine were a really cool place, full of potential.
I became really serious with my camera and started a Certificate in Photography at the Kansas City Art Institute. Whenever I felt sad, I took a picture of something beautiful. One frame at a time, life got better. I discovered that home was a feeling inside. Photography is my home.
Life was still very hard and I did not feel very good about myself. It is when I started to interview Belgians around about their secret to happiness and peace in the US. I was ready to quit and wanted to move back to Europe but decided to stay in the US one more year. I needed to create a meaning for all the pain and troubles I had gone through here. I wanted to recycle the pain and invest it into something that would make me happy.
The most beautiful things come from the darkest nights. SignMyCar! is the result of my cultural alienation and my will to turn my life around. I wanted to do something big and meaningful.
In October 2014, I quit my full time job and founded Severine Dehon Photography. Thanks to my struggles with Kansas City, my divorce and my challenging socio-environment, I was pushed way outside of my comfort zone. I gained the strength and courage to pursue my passion. I became a full time photographer and started to work on SignMyCar! pre-production.
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.
This car-to-be signed has already changed my life for the best. Just because I had a terrible start with the US, does not mean it has to be my end. I have already paid the price for being here, now I am free riding!
See you soon on this trip!