Sunday, 5 February 2012

Re-entry into your passport culture

I just listened to an online program by MemberCareRadio and I was impressed. I discovered that there is lots to listen to about the process of re-entry. I listened to Marion Knell being interviewed on the subject of third culture kids and re-entry into their passport culture. Marion is author of the book "Families on the Move - growing up overseas and loving it". More recently she wrote the book "Burn up or Splash down: Surviving the Culture Shock of Re-entry". What I heard makes me want to buy both books.

You probably know that I was a third culture kid entering into the Netherlands after having been born and bred in Africa. You can read more of my story here. I actually only just survived the culture shock at the time. It certainly was an emotional roller coaster, but the worst part of it all was that I did not know what was wrong with me. Apparently it helps to have access to some information before returning to your passport culture. This can be through a debriefing, from books or by talking to people who have gone that path before. Looking back I had none of these. No debriefing, no books on the subject and nobody I knew who had gone the path before me. Sometimes we third culture kids wander down lonely roads.

Marion Knell gives third culture kids 4 tips to process their emotions when re-entering (or entering your passport culture). The 4 "P"s:
  1. Permission to express your feelings
  2. Permission to feel pain
  3. Pathways to say goodbye, saying good "goodbyes"
  4. People to share your experiences with, people who are interested in your stories.
I remember that I had one friend during my university days who was really interested in hearing my stories. She asked many questions. Where did you live? What kind of house did you live in? What was your school like? What did you do in your free time? We spent hours talking while we went cycling, walking on the beach or just while drinking a cup of tea at home. During our conversations we traveled the globe. We walked down memory lane. It was heart warming.

I hope you meet people interested in your stories. Remember not everyone is interested in your stories, but that does not matter. Just don't give up telling them but find somebody who wants to listen. Joining an international students society can help because there the chances are greater that you meet others whom you can relate to and who have stories like yours. Do you have any suggestions that can help third culture kids when returning to their passport culture? Please share them.

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