MK & TCK Book Club discussion

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds
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The "Third Culture Kids" Book > Chapter 16: Enjoying the Journey

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message 1: by mkPLANET (last edited Aug 08, 2015 12:18PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

mkPLANET | 85 comments Mod
FACILITATOR: MARILYN GARDNER
Marilyn R. Gardner
Marilyn R. Gardner is an adult third culture kid who grew up in Pakistan and then lived as an adult in Pakistan and Egypt. She birthed 5 kids on 3 continents going on to raise them in Pakistan and Egypt before moving to the United States. She currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 15 minutes from the international terminal where she flies to the Middle East & Pakistan as often as possible. Marilyn’s writing appears in the book What a Woman is Worth (Civitas Press, 2014), Among Worlds Magazine , and A Life Overseas – The Missions Conversation . In addition in 2014 she was listed in 101 Culturally Diverse Christian Voices on the Link Between Worlds Blog . She speaks on various topics including faith and cultural competency. You can find her blogging at http://communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com and on Twitter at @marilyngard .

Her first book, Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging , was released on July 1, 2014.


Marilyn Gardner | 1 comments Hi all! First off, I want to apologize. Because of traveling, I am late to post. Apologizing for traveling to a group of TCKs seems thoroughly ridiculous! But I do it anyway!

So the chapter we are discussing is called "Enjoying the Journey." If you've already looked at, or read the chapter, than you know that there are a series of suggestions on how to enjoy the journey. They are practical and some may resonate more than others.

I feel like I'm not worthy of doing this chapter -- I have struggled mightily at points in my life to "enjoy the journey." As long as I was living overseas, this didn't seem as much of a problem. Once I moved to my passport country the enjoyment decreased ten-fold.

The chapter begins with a poem "I'm From..." I read it with interest because last November on my personal blog, a 15 year old TCK wrote a poem and it was widely shared. I've linked it here so you can take a look. http://communicatingacrossboundariesb...

So here goes with some questions:

1. What would your "I'm From" poem include? If you want to, why not spend some time and journal this. We can compile them in a way that will allow you to keep them.

2. Describe one experience that you look back on as particularly fun; an experience that brings memories of joy and laughter.

3. How have you literally and figuratively "Unpacked your bags and planted trees?"

4. What are some family traditions you have that have created stability in a world of change?

5. Describe your "sacred objects." Why are they sacred? What do they represent of your life as a third culture kid?

Okay - have at it! I look forward to hearing from you and responding myself!

Thanks for coming along on this journey.


message 3: by Drie (new)

Drie | 3 comments Hello all, looking forward to read other comments.... Let me be the first to comment. A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post on "I'm from..." I will add the link. I had fun working on it http://drieculturen.blogspot.nl/2012/...

I have very good memories of climbing mount Mulanje in Malawi. We would go with other families and stay in mountain huts. We played in the crystal clear rivers, found real crystals, sat by log fires when it rained outside, played games and discovered the surroundings.

I found the transition from Africa to Holland at 19 yrs of age very difficult. I have decided to stay in one place for some time (more than 20 yrs now) to grow some roots. I feel at home in Holland now (my husband and children are here) but still feel an "itch" to travel etc.
Sacred objects? I have Dutch clogs that I wore in Africa when I was a child, I still keep them. They have felt the African dust like I did. Greetings Janneke @DrieCulturen


message 4: by Bethany (new)

Bethany P | 14 comments 2. Describe one experience that you look back on as particularly fun; an experience that brings memories of joy and laughter.


I had a very close-knit group of friends. I guess we could be called a youth group, but a lot of us were in leadership roles in various other groups, so it was more of a young leadership-people group. We encouraged each other, played with each other, hung out constantly, and were very involved in each other's lives. This was not without detriments, of course, but overall this memory that spans several years leaves me with a smile on my face.


4. What are some family traditions you have that have created stability in a world of change?

I am seeking to develop my own traditions since I'm currently estranged from my immediate family with whom I lived overseas. With my new family, we celebrate Christmas and birthdays well! Christmas is an especially big one, since none of us were allowed to celebrate it growing up (pagan holiday and all that). So Christmas Eve I make a 7-fishes dinner of sorts, borrowing on the New Jersey Italian side of me. Then Christmas Day we have ham and turkey and lots of random sides that aren't necessarily the tradition but are what we want to eat. We also have had close friends who are family-less celebrate with us, and that has been very fulfilling.


message 5: by Jared (new)

Jared (jaredf79) | 27 comments 1. What would your "I'm From" poem include? If you want to, why not spend some time and journal this. We can compile them in a way that will allow you to keep them.

I’ll sadly forego the poem, :) but the theme would probably be along the lines of “I’m from no place.” Although I enjoyed my childhood in Austria, I know “I can’t go back” in the sense that it is never the same. Nostalgia and memories are the foundation of my ‘home’ along with my close relationships. That is where shared memories are so important. These are a rare commodity and often undervalued by those who have them.

2. Describe one experience that you look back on as particularly fun; an experience that brings memories of joy and laughter.

Too much. Just growing up in the culture and in that location. All the small things that are every-day normal of a care-free childhood in a small village with friends.

3. How have you literally and figuratively "Unpacked your bags and planted trees?"

BOOKS! I still have my reading and writing books from grade 1 and 2 in Austria. I went to a local/national school. But there are other books as well from Austria. There are other things, but those take me back the most when I read them now. I haven’t gone back to physically do anything in Austria. Going back to my memories through my memorabilia is the closest I’ve come to that.

4. What are some family traditions you have that have created stability in a world of change?

Can’t really think of any.

5. Describe your "sacred objects." Why are they sacred? What do they represent of your life as a third culture kid?

As I said in question 3, BOOKS! They represent my immersion in that culture since I was living like a national. I also love learning and reading.


Gill | 31 comments A great topic. And I find its interesting that there are so few posts. for me I actually found the questions here , and the chapter - the most uncomfortable so far. I wonder if this is in part because it requires me to be in the solution not in my comfortable woe is me role.

In particular I found the whole part about planting the tree and being in the now uncomfortable. As I understand this chapter this applies to whilst travelling, although it could equally apply to staying put. And in both situations I struggle. I find it hard to commit, part of me frets ... "Is this the right place" " what if it isn't" and I feel extreme discomfort and the need to be able to run for it to another place. Oddly I read this and am writing this whilst on a journey back to my "third culture" of malaysia. I totally and unequivocally agree with the sentiment and words written - it's the doing of it that brings discomfort. But ... Reading this, knowing this - I am trying and I commit to trying - in the knowledge of why and in the belief this can change if I work it.

In terms of my poem and happiness ... Somewhere hot, like a warm bath, gardens trees, flowers, running free in every sense of the word.

My sacred objects ... I have them .... Holding my memories, identity and sense of self that I felt I lost. Precious precious things .... But interestingly after this .. My second journey back this year ... Less so .... Because there is more, the place and the me are not lost forever. Gill


message 7: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Van | 64 comments Love your thoughts here, Gill..especially on the potential uncomfortableness with being in the solution instead of the "woe is me" role...way back in an earlier chapter the topic of choice is addressed and how hard that is for many of us ATCKs to do because, at least for many so many life choices and changes were made for us we begin to forget we can make real choices. But without choice, people are victims. When we forget that because true choices didn't always seem possible in the past, it doesn't mean we can't make them now, we can indeed live in that "victim mentality"...often waiting for others to fix things for us instead of realizing there are real choices such as you mention about where we can actually do positive things for ourselves...anyhow, I really enjoyed your honesty and your comment and all the others too.


mkPLANET | 85 comments Mod
Gill and Ruth, that stood out to me as well. I wonder if some TCKs deal with an additional layer of perceived lack of choice if their parents were also given few options, if any, by their employer. Either way, I can see how it becomes easy to let life happen to us, even later as independent adults, rather than realizing how empowered we actually are. Thank you both for your comments, and for expressing that concept so well.

And Gill, I can also relate with you in that I find it hard to commit, and I question whether I'm in the right place, with the right people, applying for the right jobs, and so on, or whether the 'right' place is waiting for me elsewhere. In other words, it takes effort for me to plant my tree, but I have still been intentional about trying to go through with it. I know I run the risk of leaving part of my heart behind if/when I move again, but at the same time, I know I'll experience the benefits too, and that the risk is worth it.


message 9: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Van | 64 comments Thanks for these comments too, Marilyn. They remind me that when my ATCK dad (who never heard that term in his whole life) said to me "Ruth, don't forget to unpack your bags (mentally as well as physically) and plant your trees no matter where you go." the reason he gave was that "If you don't, you'll never live fully in any place and life will pass you by. Too many people spend their lives waiting to move so they miss the present too. And don't worry if you don't get to eat the fruit from those trees. Someone will and meantime, you will have lived well." When I returned to Nigeria for a brief visit as an adult and went and saw the home I grew up in, the small trees of my childhood had now become big trees and there was fruit hanging on them. he was right! they outlasted us as a blessing to those who come behind!


mkPLANET | 85 comments Mod
I love that story, Ruth. What a wonderful legacy your Dad left for you!


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