Bringing the World with you

Posted: 12th April 2010 by admin in Uncategorized

Last night a couple of friends from my university days stayed over, after attending an alumni reunion on the previous day.

One was a guy who was born in Korea, moved to Canada when he was 13 and earned its citizenship, and at some point had also lived in Sri Lanka for an extended period. Another was an Indian who … well I don’t know his whole story.

Add to this my roommate whose parents were French and German, grew up in Sweden, and did the whole crazy Scandinavian backpacking tradition, even learning the Ho Chi Minh song. My neighbours/colleagues/fellow alumni came down too: one a Vietnamese girl who’d lived for some time in Singapore; one half-Swede, half Serbian; and a Bulgarian girl who’d grown up in Sweden.

All of us had known each other back in Switzerland. It was strange too, how we all knew one particular Swedish party song (or was it Norwegian?) which always, to me, brings back memories of all the Swedes and Norwegians suddenly jumping up and down together and singing along. It was songs like that, along with all the other Lebanese, Serbian and Spanish songs which somehow, everyone became familiar with, that created this huge shared experience.

And whenever we get together, we bring the world with us.

It’s possible that there are few places in the world which make you feel more like a TCK than here in America. Identity is a huge thing here, but rarely is it defined by nationality like in most of the rest of the world. Americans divide themselves on race, politics and religion, but simple nationality it rarely does: the general assumption is that everyone’s either American or not.

Therefore it always comes as a cultural shock to the American friends we make when they realize just how international we are, and this is made especially plain when we get together. These Americans friends have told me often that they feel inspired to travel, after meeting us. They feel so locked in, which is what America largely seems to do: It closes the borders and tells people that all that really matters is within those borders.

  1. Anonymous says:

    oops well i did read the whole thing and love the way things tinker around in your head… i’m much the same except that i’ve been feeling claustrophobic longer than you. and much less brave since i’m commenting on your blog as opposed to divulging bits about me! i like your sunny exterior, your public, warrior face. fitting in is overrated. your peers are trying to fit in too; it’s just that their box is much smaller.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great blog post! I was just picturing a group of International folks and TCKs around a table – how wonderful… On Friday, I had a gallery opening for the Chameleon project I’m working on and the NYC TCK group came to the opening reception – it was so much fun to connect with everyone. So inspiring! I hope that more events happen that bring TCKs and other Internationally minded folks together. Check out my Chameleon project blog: