Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter twitter update all about kids growing up in other cultures

My last twitter update was in March 2012 so it's time to keep you posted with some nice new links. I always hope that you find new interesting information here on this blog and that it motivates you to return again some time soon. If you follow me on twitter @DrieCulturen you will get the news faster of course. By the way it's colder here in the Netherlands than it was at Christmas last year. There was snow at Easter, so now I am dreaming of the warm sun in Indonesia.

Sharing 10 great links with you:
  1. 10 Things Expats Raising Children in England should know by Bonnie Rose, who is an expat living in England, she grew up a third culture kid living on military bases.
  2. New: third culture kids Linda and Cassandra tell about what it's like to grow up in Jakarta, Indonesia
    Dreaming of Indonesia and the warm sun
    “Lucky!”... "It is difficult being a third culture kid but we would not trade the life we have lived, as it is unique." 
  3. 15 Things I want to tell my Third Culture Kids by Rachel Pieh Jones. A post written by an expat mum raising her kids abroad. This post has been shared many times on twitter since it was posted. It's worth reading.
  4. Insightful article in the Copenhagen Post today about "Growing up half-Danish: A tale of Two Cultures"  
  5. Gr8 challenge by for expat kids betw13-18 yrs Make a video: How you will make a better world...
  6. Inspiring! Write your way to a happier & healthier you by Good idea for expats and TCKs
  7. So true "when ripe you can smell it from a distance....guavas!" Brings back memories of growing up in Africa
  8. Where are you from? Third Culture Kids delve into complex answers at Clark University conference..  
  9. Knowing yr family narrative shown to be gr8 predictor of resilience. Super advice 4 our expat kids!
  10. Linda @in_expatland Attended Families in Global Transition conference & came away INSPIRED Top 10 Reasons Why FIGT Rocked
Do you have any interesting links to share? Please add them. Just in case you did not read the guest blog by Casey then you should just read "An Ode to the Third Culture Kids". 

Photo by Janneke @DrieCulturen

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Guestblog "An Ode to the Third Culture Kids" by Casey

Recently I discovered a very interesting blog called True Colours. It's a lovely blog written by Casey. She loves traveling and has beautiful photos on her blog, you should have a look. I just fell in love with her Ode to Third Culture Kids. I am so glad Casey agreed to let me share it with you here. It's over to Casey.

An Ode to the Third Culture Kids

If this title confuses you, just bear with me and I'll provide a background on what I'm talking about.  But to start, one of the things I hope to accomplish on this blog is to promote understanding & to negate ignorances.  I think in order to do that, we need to start with my backstory to understand where we're going with this today.
If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia.  
My home for all of my childhood, it was truly all I knew.  
It was home. 
So when it was time to leave, I left as a pre-teen child knowing that the goodbyes I was saying to my friends, my childhood home, the country I knew and loved, 
I knew I'd probably never see any of them again.
That day we left Saudi was heartbreaking, not just for me but for my parents too.  
I'll never forget the feeling that crept up on me that day, it truly changed my life.

From then on, the first couple years back in the States I had a really hard time. Not necessarily adjusting to life here or meeting new friends, but in the fact that I felt like a whole part of me was suddenly missing. Something I couldn't really explain to people that didn't understand.
For years, I HATED the question "where are you from?"  
I couldn't answer it without going into the whole story because I wasn't really "from" Saudi, 
but it had been my birthplace, my home.
And I wasn't "from" the States either, somehow that seemed far more foreign to me than saying I was from Saudi.  
And hence came many many years of not really feeling at home anywhere, never truly feeling like I was "home" in the States, nor that it was truly what defined my citizenship.
I had no one except my parents that understood this, though they also were in a different boat than me.  Their time in Saudi had been in adulthood, with many years in the States before that and so while they tried as hard as they could, it wasn't a feeling they could totally understand either.
Through my high school years the connection to my Saudi childhood friends over the internet helped tremendously.  At times when I'd really miss it, I'd talk to them.  I'd look at their photos of our old home and reminisce with them about when we were kids.  
Many of them I still am in contact with today.  
I apologize that this post is so winded, but here in lies the rub, this is the story of my life and it is winded.
I can't just say "I'm from Oregon" and be done with it.
Or "I'm American" and be done with it... because even though now both of those hold true,
they don't paint the whole picture, just a tiny part of it.

So anyways, in college I came across the term "3rd culture kid."
And it seriously changed my life.  This term describes kids like me, born and raised in a foreign country but a citizen of another and somewhere in between both of those, lies a 3rd culture we've sort of created for ourselves, a mixture of the 2 that we "belong" to.
To finally be able to see my situation written in a word, to finally be able to express what I had been feeling all those years in a way someone else might be able to understand. 
It was a huge revelation.
And then just the other day I came across this article talking about the exact same thing but relaying a single world for the feelings I've had for years.  "Saudade," a Portuguese word without an equivalent in English means "a longing, a melancholy, a desire for what was and something that really won't ever be again."
That word stopped me in my tracks the other day as I read the article (forwarded to me by a friend from Saudi).  That one word is one that I hold with me everyday in my heart and I've been holding it for a very long time now without even knowing the word that described it.

To really imagine the feeling, imagine the place you grew up, your house, your home, your friends, your family, your hobbies, your reality, gone in 1 day, knowing you'd never see it again. 
I guess my point in all this is that sometimes, as 3rd culture kids, no one understands why we feel this way.  People always tell me, "well you're American though, so I don't get it."
And I wish it were that simple but it is far from that.
While my passport has always been American, in large letters in the place of birth category is written
prominently "Saudi Arabia" and there is the story of my life.
Caught between 2 cultures that have never been truly mine, either one of them.
So now years down the road, I look back and can understand a little better what I went through and what I felt is felt by 3rd culture kids all around the world.  
And so here is my ode to the 3rd culture kids around the globe, may we find peace in who we are, where we come from and how the world has shaped us.  
And may others try to understand that it isn't so black and white for us, 
that sometimes cultures blur, boundaries are undefined.  
I think as a world we need to understand this more and as more and more lines do blur,
we must know that our hearts can hold pieces of our "homes," even if that home can't be 
drawn on a map.
I'll always be a little "Arab" and I'm so thankful for that because it's a huge part of who I am
and I hope it always will be.
Now when someone asks me where I'm from, I smile and respond
"I grew up in Saudi Arabia."
And then I wait for the questions that always seem to follow...

  Photo copyright Nick Nieto

Casey on twitter @cmart1015
Bloglovin' True Colours
Casey wrote another post recently: A Little bit of Background

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Want to Know How to Prepare Third Culture Kid Teens for Adulthood?

Yes! I would love to know how to prepare third culture kid teens for adulthood. Well the expat parents living in the Netherlands have a great opportunity coming up. There are two workshops coming up this week on this topic. Ellen from Sea Change Mentoring is visiting the Netherlands and she will be conducting this workshop. I interviewed Ellen recently about her new mentoring program for expat teens. It's worth reading the interview.

The first workshop is Monday 11th March 2013 from 18.00 to 19.30 hrs in the American Book Center Treehouse in Amsterdam. You can register here.

The second workshop is on Tuesday 12th March 2013 18.00hrs to 19.30 hrs at the American school in Wassenaar. More information is available here.

During the workshop participants will:

  • Learn the specific challenges and successes TCKs experience when transitioning to their passport culture, university and young adulthood
  • Learn what reverse culture shock is and how TCK teens and young adults experience this
  • Learn strategies to minimize the harmful symptoms of reverse culture shock
  • Learn what skills and characteristics are specific to TCKs and how teens and young adults can make the most of these
  • Learn how mentoring is an effective solution to helping TCKs through this transition and how Sea Change Mentoring works
  • Network with other participants to help strengthen a supportive community around these matters
  • Connect with a number of related resources 

Ellen says: "I grew up as a TCK in Japan and Singapore and know firsthand what the benefits are of living abroad and what the risks can be of going “home.” According to the research that’s out there and our own survey results, the majority of TCK’s want (or wished they had) someone from the expat community to guide them through the process of adjusting to their home country. Mentoring is focused on letting the power of a structured relationship with a caring and safe adult be a guiding force in helping a young person live a well adjusted life. In my opinion, mentoring is perfectly suited to help young people living abroad." 

I hope to attend one of the workshops and I am willing make notes and share what I learn. What do you want to know? What's your experience? Do you have advice for other parents?

Related Posts:
Book review of the book Expat Teens Talk
The Most difficult transition for third culture kids  
A Third Culture Kid's Guide to college (DenizenMag)
Culture Shock: What Your Kids can't Tell You (Anne Gillme)
Third Culture Kid Book Project by Jessica Wen

Photo by Anita Peppers MorgueFile.