"Who am I?" (The Third Culture Kid)
Or even fourth or fifth culture kid… This is the internationally accepted term for children who have spent a significant portion of their formative years in cultures different from their own, or their parents. I didn’t know I was one while I was growing up – now I am raising a couple of my own. Personally, I much prefer the term ‘global nomad’ – has more of a glamorous ring to it, doesn’t it? But what I do have is that feeling of fragmentation: I do not have a solid, whole concrete façade, but am made up of so many different little pebbles of influence.
the moved upon powerless and grieving.
Head down, I’d prepare for exit and re-entry, again, and again,
glad to be the one gathering no moss.
But ultimately revenge is theirs:
for they sprout roots, link up, grow together, form tissue
richly alive with many shared hours and insights and tales.
All the shortcuts roll glib off their tongues,
always creating and leading their own trend,
while the mover is running to catch up, to fuddle,
stuck in the language of past generations,
never quite getting the nuance, the slang.
See that flying line of geese? There’s one just off,
destroying the symmetry of their formation.
I fear I am something of a disappointment:
not enough of a glamour-bird when you want to preen with me,
yet not sufficiently aligned and meek.
My ducks in a row askew,
so easy to shoot at, and never enough time
I’ve learnt to hide my real thoughts
my own thoughts
I’ve learnt a short answer to the question:
‘Where are you from?’, tinged with just enough humour
and self-deprecation to disarm and charm.
Who am I?
I am all that is half-forgotten,
I am all the places in which I’ve left my heart.
I am all that is buried deep inside and want to excavate no more.
I am all that I dare not show you
for fear that you will drown.
- Third Culture Kids and Cultural Identity Confusion
- Third Culture Kids Learning to be themselves
- Interview with Heidi Sand-Hart author of the book "home Keeps Moving"
- Nina Sichel on understanding TCKs on Children's Mental Health Network website
Thank you for liking this poem so much that you wanted to share it on your site. Coincidentally, I am going tomorrow to a school reunion - an international school, where we all were third culture kids. I can hardly wait to see how we've all turned out!ReplyDelete
What a lovely poem, summing up third culture feelings perfectlyReplyDelete
Thank you Marina for being my guest here. I hope you had a good school reunion, it must have been really interesting to meet everyone again. Are you spread all over the globe now?ReplyDelete
@Windmilltales I agree with you that it is a beautiful poem. I enjoy reading poems and books that I can relate too.ReplyDelete
Wonderful timing, as I had just written about "Where is home" but of course not as poetically. What got me started was reflecting on that very question of "where are you from" where your poem says you've learned the short answer. I also love the pebbles analogy. It's so true.ReplyDelete
Hi Sine, a typical third culture kid or cross cultural kid has a "long" answer to the question "Where are you from?" When I was 3 we moved to ...., then we moved to ..... etc. The challenge with the pebble analogy is to feel a "whole person", even though your cultural identity is fragmented.ReplyDelete
Spot on to what I feel and have felt all my life! Being this and that and not quite being this and that either........ Very well written. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Hi Annette, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I am always amazed when I read something and it is just "spot on". It gives words to my feelings and that's what Marina did so well. I hope she keeps writing.ReplyDelete