Thursday, October 7, 2010

Book Review on the Brain

I'm polishing my final draft of a book review on Third Culture Kids--The Children of International Educators by Dr. Ettie Zilber (2009, ___ Press), for publication in The Journal for the Advancement of International Education.

I think I just put myself to sleep, listing all those long titles - and I also have double reason: that 10 month old who only fell asleep at 4:30 am, after screaming and wriggling for hours last night. Here I am, sitting upright, with her strapped to my back in the Ergo, sleeping against me, since I refuse to deal with another night like that -- and it was looking that way after her brother accidentally woke her up around 9 pm.

Wow. I must be tired. Because that's a really long winded way of saying -- I'm slightly incoherent, but I've got "TCK" on the brain.

You know -- Third Culture Kids. Well, maybe you don't know. People like me, who grew up outside of their home culture. In another culture. That essentially creates a the experience of a third unique culture inside one small soul. Such as myself.

Reading the TCK book for review brought up all kinds of memories, insights, and "family of origin" aha! moments. You'd think this would all be old hat, how growing up in five different countries from 0 to 18 years old impacted me. But since moving to the U.S. for college at 18, it's an identity I've gone under cover about. After all, I look-sound-smell... American. I've got nuthin' to show for my TCK-ness. Just lots of passports stamps and an inability to join in conversations about favorite childhood TV shows.

So, while coming across hard and fast evidence of "TCK-ness" may seem momentarily interesting to you -- it means the world to me. Like the news that not since John Quincy Adams lived in France for a stint have we had a TCK in office - until good ole Barrack. Turns out Obama appointed a slew of TCKs for office, including Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Heck, Geithner even attended the same high school I graduated from in Bangkok. And it's not that small of a world.

I haven't gotten the "aloof" accusation in a while, but I used to -- and it's a relief to read a quote about Obama like, "That cool manner of seeming 'above it all' is... a classic feature of the Third Culture Kid."

Or, "'I laughed when I heard a commentator call Barack exotic and elitist,' says Lois Bushong, an American who grew up in Costa Rica and now works a therapist for internationally mobile families. 'How exotic or elitist can it be to go home to visit your grandmother, even if she lives in Hawaii? She’s still your grandma. This TV guy seemed to forget that the world many see ‘exotic’ is simply home for TCKs.'"

I want to get back to web surfing and quit my exhausted blathering. One day I will put together a fabulous anthology of stories from us TCK folks--about growing up, about the dilemas we face raising our own families now (where? give our child a place to call home? or ramble, as we are used to?), about the every-day-ness of living our lives the only way we knew how--no "exotic" rose-colored-glasses crap.

For now, I just need one good night's sleep.

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