Wednesday, 25 April 2012

My heritage of growing up overseas: Close encouters of a tropical kind


I actually have a very funny memory of a watermelon. I must have been about 13 years old. We had travelled all day from Beitbridge in the South of Matabeleland, Zimbabwe to our home at that time in Bulawayo. These were bumpy roads and we had bought a juicy, big, ripe watermelon along the way. We had probably bought it for a good price. It was a warm day and the idea of a succulent, juicy watermelon must have been very appealing at the time. Why we did not dig into it straight away remains an unanswered question in my mind.

Image by Fedegrafo Morgue File
When I talk about we, I mean my parents, my brothers and my little sister of 5 years old. We had travelled that day in a land cruiser owned by the NGO (non-governmental organisation) that my father worked for at the time. This land cruiser had taken us along nice, well maintained, tarmac roads but also along bumpy, unpredictable bush roads. Now the watermelon had made this journey along with us too.

On arrival at home all the kids had to join in carrying the luggage into the house, making sure the land cruiser was emptied of all our belongings and returned into its original state. Not sure if that was possible, but anyway. Seeing as we had been away for more than a week there was always a pile of letters awaiting our homecoming. These were put on the kitchen table together with our precious watermelon. Tired from the journey we left our friend the watermelon and the mail on the table for the night.

We were rudely awakened that night. There was the sound of a serious explosion. The stillness of the African night was abruptly interrupted by an enormous amount of noise. The noise was from an unknown source, it was unexpected, unpredicted, and maybe unwelcome. It ended in some kind of “splat!”

Arriving at the scene of the crime, we saw the devastation, we saw the mess. From the ceiling to the floor the ruins were visible. The mail was ruined, sploshed, sticky and gooey. The chairs, the walls, everything was marked by this extreme explosion: the UFO, unidentified flying object. After wiping the sleep out of our eyes, we recognized the remains of our juicy watermelon, glued all over the kitchen. Seeds and juice were everywhere. That what should have brought us pure joy, life, juice, excitement, ecstasy and refreshment, had now become another task, chore, a dirty sticky mess, a disappointment, a disgust and lots of sweat.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Twitter update week 16: children growing up in other cultures

Thank you all for visiting my blog. I am really excited that many people find the way to this blog and I hope you find what you are looking for. It's time for a twitter update. I will share recent interesting twitter links with you. I also want to let you know that I wrote a guest blog this week at The Migrating Yankee. The post is called "Clogs with a story to tell", do hop over and have a read. I met Tiffany from The Migrating Yankee at a writing workshop and she was the first person who asked me to write a guest blog. Thank you Tiffany, it's always good to celebrate your "firsts".

A guest post about not fitting in & Third Culture Kids:

Dutch tulips: Spring in the air @DrieCulturen
Great post on Third Culture Kids from : "Chameleon, Imposter, or Third Culture Kid?"

Found this today. For TCKs change is imminent! How you deal with it makes the difference

Third Culture Kids - Emotions about Moving Back Home for University

Here's the story of someone who is proud to be a third culture kid!                      

Gr8 story of a third culture kid becoming an expat "My home is airport terminals, new sites & city streets" by  

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: USA

RT Writers Abroad Radio show 37: Nina Sichel, co-editor of fab, research-packed TCK stuff: Writing Out of Limbo

Rejoice with your family: Top three things to do with your Global Nomad
Global parenting has its drawbacks but the joy.. RT Global Parenting – My Telegraph

The Significance of Food and the Expat Child via

Check this RT uploaded a video How to Build Emotional Resilience in Your Child

"Ik snak om meer te zien van deze wereld!" Jessica 13jr, geboren in , gewoond in Dubai en nu NL

If you have interesting links please share them with us. Thanks

Thursday, 12 April 2012

I am all the places in which I've left my heart

I came across this poem called "TCK" it is written by someone who writes under the name Marina Sofia. I would encourage you to read her poem. I just love it. Sometimes words can say so much.

In the poem she asks: "Who am I?"
One of her answers is: "I am all the places in which I've left my heart".

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe by Janneke @DrieCulturen
If that's true, then pieces of my heart are in Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Scotland (I studied there for a couple of months) and here in the Netherlands. Recently we were on holiday in Indonesia, I think I lost my heart to that country too. Life's complicated sometimes.

I often think that there is so much more to me than you can see on the outside.
There's a hidden story on the inside for those who are interested enough to find out, or to ask about it.
For some the stories are too much to handle.
Growing up far away is a life beyond your imagination.
For others it is an exotic, fascinating story.
Maybe you fantasize too much.

Maybe we all have hidden stories.
Even those who grow up near to their roots.
Maybe we all have a moment that we struggle with our identity.
What do you think?

I do have a story to tell about every place that I left a piece of my heart.
Do you want to hear them?
Maybe in the coming posts.....
Let me know what you want to hear about.
I want to let you know that I want to hear your story too.

Is this true for you? "I am all the places in which I've left my heart"

Related posts:

Friday, 6 April 2012

How do transitions effect children?

Recently the The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) had a panel discussion about third culture kids and their experiences. You can watch the film, it is nearly one and a half hours full of good information. The members of the panel all have many years of experience working with Third culture kids. One of the members of the panel is International educator and adult third culture kid (ATCK), Rebecca Oden, M.Ed,  who has been a teacher and a coordinator providing academic and emotional/social support for transitioning families and students.  Her master’s thesis and research focused on transition and its consequent effect on the identity of TCKs in the international school setting.

I want to share something with you that Rebecca Oden said at the start of the panel discussion. I share these words with you because I believe they are true. According to Rebecca here are:

4 very important variables that influence the life of a third culture kid (or internationally mobile child):
  1. The developmental age of the child. There are different challenges and different issues at different ages. It's a little easier when children are younger, for example parents can arrange a play date and within moments of meeting each others toddlers can be playing together. The issues change depending on the developmental age. A child of 12 years old will not be charmed when mum arranges a play date but parents can facilitate the social interactions at that age.
  2. The number of transitions a child has faced. Parents often think: well they did fine the last move so all will be well this time. There are all kinds of reasons why this time the transition is more difficult. It could be connected with the developmental age. It could be transition fatigue, tried of all the change, the multiple loss of status, starting over time and time again. The fragmented identities that need to be put together time and time again.
  3. The family wellness. How is your family culture? Are you as parents doing well? Is this transition more difficult for one of the parents too?
  4. School choice.  Is it a school that is knowledgeable about these kind of issues? Does it have a program to address these issues?
I can not really remember how I experienced each transition in my youth. In Malawi I went to international schools but in Zimbabwe I attended good local schools. I have good memories at all of these schools. An international school is not automatically the best choice. What's your experience? Do you identify with these 4 variables?


 Related posts:

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Derdecultuurkinderen of terwijl third culture kids: het onderwerp is "hot"

Hebben jullie de Volkskrant Magazine gelezen van het afgelopen weekend? Er staat een artikel in over "Het expateffect". Verhuis kinderen van expats terug naar hun eigen land en de verwarring slaat toe. Wat mij betreft is het super herkenbaar. Ik ben vanuit Afrika naar Nederland gekomen om hier aan de universiteit te studeren. Lees mijn verhaal hier.

Het valt mij op dat er de laatste tijd vaker artikelen over derdecultuurkinderen (third culture kids) in de krant of tijdschriften staan. Het is natuurlijk ook zo dat als je ergens oplet je het ook sneller ziet, misschien was het er eerder ook maar nu valt het mij opeens op. Zo stond er op zaterdag 11 februari 2012 een artikel met de titel "Altijd Onrust" in het tijdschrift van het Financieel Dagblad. Expatkinderen van toen vertellen over de onrust die hen als volwassene nog altijd drijft. Ook dit is wat mij betreft herkenbaar.

In november 2011 stond er een drieluik in het blad Internationale Samenwerking: drie voormalig expatkinderen vertellen over opgroeien buiten Nederland. "Ik herken het ontheemde gevoel".

In het radioprogramma Expat on Air van Radio Nederland Wereldomroep ben ik in januari 2012 te gast geweest. Luister hier naar mijn ervaringen over het opgroeien in het buitenland en "terugkeren" naar Nederland.Eind januari 2012 ben ik te gast geweest bij DeGids.fm bij Felix Meurders. Het interview is hier te beluisteren. 

Vandaag kwam ik het verhaal tegen van schrijfster Marlies Slegers "Hoe overleef je een jeugdtrauma?" Zij woonde als kind in Indonesië en tijdens een vakantie in Nederland hoorde ze dat ze niet meer terug zou gaan naar haar school en vrienden in Indonesië. Het gevolg was heimwee en het duurde jaren voordat ze het een plekje kon geven.

In mei is er een uitvoering door Margo van de Linde in Amsterdam en Rotterdam. De uitvoering heet "Third Culture Kid". Margo is een derdecultuurkind (een TCK). Zij heeft in America, Engeland, Spanje en Canada gewoond.

Nou volgens mij is het onderwerp gewoon "hot", ik zie het overal om mij heen. De woorden die mij vooral opvallen zijn verwarring, ontheemd, onrust, heimwee. Wat zal ik er nog meer over zeggen? Wat voor woorden associeer jij met derdecultuurkinderen? Hoe was het voor jou?

Meer lezen?