Friday, April 20, 2018

FIGT conference 2018: Reconnecting and connecting with other ATCKs and Expats


Coming home to my "tribe" of people who just "get it"

In 2009, I wrote to a lady named Tina Quick (Author of The Global Nomad's Guide to University Transition and Survive and Thrive) about being an Adult Third Culture Kid. At the time, I was in the midst of resurrecting some choreography from my senior thesis production of "Third Culture Kids" to create "Chameleon, the experiences of Global Citizens" dance production and the start of this blog. She told me about a conference called Families in Global Transitions that happened annually.

A whole conference with Expat writers, researchers, and TCKs!?!!! Whoa...

Ruth Van Reken who wrote the TCK 'bible' book "Third Culture Kids" with David C. Pollock was one of the pioneers and started this conference 20 years ago.

I sent in my conference proposal to showcase my simple documentary film "I am a TCK" which would later be used as the backdrop and catalyst for the dance production and proposed to perform my short solo as an excerpt and do a little movement improvisation workshop with the large "jewelry" chains that TCK Jewelry designer, Natalia Krasnodebska created specifically for Chameleon based on her own TCK experiences.

Chameleon Project- TCK Arts in the Community from Alaine Handa on Vimeo.


Little did I know that my proposal would get accepted into the conference in 2010! That was such a busy year for Chameleon with the premiere at University Settlement, Capital Fringe Festival, International Childrens' Festival, and multiple excerpts performed in smaller festivals in the NYC Tri-State area. I received my first grant from Singapore International Foundation...the list goes on and then receiving a scholarship for me to attend and present at FIGT 2010 in Houston.

THAT was 8 years ago... life was so different.

The subsequent years of 2011 and 2012 rode on the hurricane of 2010.

Then I moved to the other side of the world halfway through 2012. It was tumultuous and dramatic.

My life changed so dramatically.

Ok, I can do this... I thought. I've lived here before. Why is it so hard? Reverse culture shock hit me hard. I felt really lost. Life events happened that changed the course of my life in a dramatic way and it took me a long time to find my feet again.

A really long time...

6 years later, I found myself at FIGT 2018 conference in The Hague.

I missed "the tribe" and reconnecting with all the faces and friends whom I've stayed in contact with over the years via Facebook and email really left me glassy-eyed. They "get it". Words cannot express what a wonderful group of ATCKs, Expats, writers, researchers, trainers, coaches, educators that comprise the family at FIGT are. The organisation and the conference has grown tremendously and more people are coming in droves.


For a group of Global Citizens its hard to navigate the cultural landscape of the world sometimes. People will judge you and label you a certain way that will often make you feel misunderstood. Returning to FIGT after all those years was refreshing for me and talking to people about their experiences and my experiences was like therapy.


There were some familiar faces and they welcomed me with open arms. The new faces were plenty and inspiring. The sessions I chose were really hard to sit through because they hit so close to my heart. I really needed space to recover.

I caught myself crying in a corner a few times.

Pull it together Alaine....

My co-presentation about telling stories with Olga was very technical and we gave clear examples how one can tell our stories: the good, bad, ugly about growing up as a TCK and living around the world as an expat.

A shout out (and many hugs) to Isabelle Min, Arnie Krogh, Katarina Holm-Didio, Eva Laszlo-Herbert, Amanda Bates, Olga Mecking, Tina Quick, Ruth Van Reken, Judy Rickatson, Kaye Rickatson, Kira Miller, Alice Wu, Kristine Racina, Marilyn Gardner, and so many more... I miss the tribe!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Third Culture Kid Spotlight: Lisa

A fascinating woman who I've come to know through the TCK networks and has lived all over the world. Meet Lisa! 


1. What is your name? 
Risa but I go by Lisa (it does make a difference! Read more about it here: https://melibeeglobal.com/blog/2012/12/cultural-lessons-in-a-name/)

2. Where were you born? 

Tokyo, Japan

3. What is your heritage? 

100% Japanese 






4. Where have you lived and how long at each place?


Tokyo, Japan: 8 months
Sao Paolo, Brazil: 2 years
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 2 years
Seattle, WA, USA: 4 years
Bronx, NY, USA: 3 years
Mexico City, Mexico: 9 years
Pullman, WA, USA: 4 years
Seattle, WA: 6 years
Farmington, NM, USA: almost 3 years

5. What is your definition of "home" and how is it different from those around you? 
My definition of 'home' has changed these last couple of years. It used to be that 'home' is wherever my parents lived. My parents continuously kept the inside of our houses the same wherever we lived, so it never felt different.  Sure, the outside and layout of our houses/apartment were different depending on which country we lived in, but the inside never changed.  After moving out of my parents' house, living on my own, I've slowly shifted the definition of home to where I feel I can make it on my own.  Many TCKs I know can't pinpoint one location as home, and I can agree.  "Home" is not a location, it's more of a state of mind, or feeling.



6. Where do you consider "home" and why? 
Whenever a world event is occurring like the Olympics or World Cup, I always root for Brazil, Japan, and the US.  I suppose that's because I've lived there, and will always be my homes.

7. Do you have interests in the following: foreign languages, international relations, travelling, international politics, different cultures of the world, etc...  Yes/No If so, do you think your background has helped you develop these interests? 
Yes to all.  I think my background as a TCK really developed these interests as it's always been a part of my life and who I am as an individual. 

8. What are your thoughts on globalization? Current political situation? 
I think the term globalization has come and gone throughout the years, but the concept remains.  It's come to a point where it's so fluid within our daily lives, that not many step back to see what's really going on.  Technology at times blends the idea we may be closer to one another than we might think, but, we have a long journey ahead to really see how globalization affects us on a societal level.  We need to be aware and understand what's going on around us, not just internationally but locally--ask questions, and dig deeper to understand others' points of views.



9. How are your thoughts on world affairs different from those around you?  
Some of my thoughts are the same as Americans, and other times, slightly different.  We have all led different paths of life, so there's going to be similarities and differences.  The important part of all of this is to be able to create spaces that allows for a free form of dialogue.  

10. Do you plan on incorporating a large amount of travel with your career?  
I'd love to be in a career that allows me to travel as part of my job, but in the mean time, I will always take time to explore the unknown. 



Thank you Lisa for sharing your story!! If you would like to be featured on this series please drop me an email at ahdancecompany@gmail.com



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

TCK Identity: Leaving it all behind and in search for home






As a TCK, we find ourselves changing with each new location. As a digital nomad, I live in many places at once. The luggage, trains, planes, trams, and automobiles is so much flurry that it doesn't leave me a second to grieve. A proper farewell. 

Its important to be able to have a proper farewell to the places and faces we once loved. 

When you grow up mobile, the sense of identity and home is skewed because its never a constant place. Sometimes TCKs associate their previous homes as places but some associate them to the faces. The people they forged real connections with. I think its important to be able reflect and grieve properly on those physical places and people once they are gone. 

Like a proper break up.

I met up with a TCK friend of mine recently and she was telling me about her weird break up with a man she had been dating for a while. She told me that she felt shattered because it felt like a part of her sense of home was pulled from under the rug. She found solace in the people she chose to get close to for a sense of home and normalcy. It got me to thinking about my own friendships and romantic relationships. I was in a long distance relationship with a man for a few years and recently had to make the decision to tell him that I couldn't keep flying to his town anymore. Long story short, I felt terrible but then we had a couple days of saying a proper goodbye. We visited my favorite  places in town, reminisced about all the good times we had traveling together and the first time we met halfway across the globe, they were all good memories. Memories are my home. 

I found solace in creating memories that would mark time periods of my life that I felt at home. Home is not a physical place for me but I get these questions a lot by well meaning family and friends. 


"Where do you want to settle down?"
"You need to find a permanent place to settle down."
"Just pick a place and settle down." 
"Where do you see yourself permanently?"
"Are you going to keep traveling?"
"You can't keep on traveling. You need to set down roots" 

These are all valid concerns and questions by all the people that have said them to me. To be honest, I can't answer the questions. I feel very conflicted because in my heart I have places and countries I would love to live in for a long period of time and settle for a while BUT then its a challenge to live there due to logistical, political, and visas. Believe me, I have tried to apply for jobs and live in my chosen places. I have struggled for so many years. 

My passport pulls me back in many respects and I have not been able to accept it. It has to do with something greater than just me. It becomes a power struggle of politics, privilege, and current affairs. 

But all I know is this. People and places that make me feel welcome feel like home. Sometimes there's a gut feeling that you just feel so comfortable there. Its like falling in love. I remember when I fell in love with a city. I made it my home for as long as I could until I had to leave. It broke my heart. 

Home is a feeling. A memory. And a comfort. 

I don't know where I'll be but I will know when I am home. 
It will be a place of comfort, love, support, and warmth to me. 



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

TCK Identity: I have never been a local anywhere



A house boat in Rotterdam - I sometimes wish I could live on a boat and just choose where to live depending on the seasons! (This will probably not happen as I can get terribly seasick if the water is too choppy!)

I have lived in a number of places, traveled and revisited places where I know the streets, BUT I have never been a local anywhere. As a adult third culture kid and avid travel blogger (Check out my travel blog! www.travelwithalaine.com), I often come across posts with titles that have "... from the eyes of a local", "Explore ..... by a local", "A local guide's to ....", or something of similar titles. I wish I could tell you how much I would love to write "...from a local's perspective" but I can't because it would seem like a fraud. I can tell you about my experiences from that place. Especially if its a place I've lived in and discovered as a local resident.

Experiencing a place as a traveler is so different that living in a place as a resident. Your needs are different. There's an adjustment period that can be challenging. From feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, loneliness, fear, to elated happy feelings, satisfaction, acceptance, and peace. Its a whole gamut of experiences.

As far as "local guides" go, I will probably never write one because it would feel a bit disingenuous to my readers. When I do meet people who have lived their whole lives in that place, I ask them for their recommendations and tips because that is the best way to discover a place whether you've moved there or traveling there.

Wandering the streets of Delft

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

TCK Spotlight on Julie of Jewels Wandering

Julie of Jewels Wandering is a Brazilian Third Culture Kid turned expat and has been blogging through her blog Jewels Wandering of her travel tales. 



1. What is your name? I'm Julie.

2. Where were you born? Brasília, DF Brazil

3. What is your heritage? I am fourth generation Japanese Brazilian

4. Where have you lived and how long at each place?
I have lived in Brasilia off and on for a total of 4 years, Rio de Janeiro for 2 years, New York off and on for 10 years, London for 5.5 years, San Francisco for 3, Brussels for 2.5 years, New Hampshire for 2, Tokyo for 2 and Washington DC for 1. Not in that order! I've now been in Singapore for just over 5 years. 


5. What is your definition of "home" and how is it different from those around you?
Home is wherever my parents happen to be living, after all, home is where the heart is. Maybe this will change if I ever get married and start a family of my own, but for now, home is wherever my parents are.

6. Where do you consider "home" and why?
My parents have been based out of NYC for the past 12 years and where I have been going to visit them in the past 11. NYC definitely has the connotation of home for me because I also lived there for 8 years before moving to London. 


7. Do you have interests in the following: foreign languages, international relations, travelling, international politics, different cultures of the world, etc...  Yes/No 
If so, do you think your background has helped you develop these interests?
Most definitely YES! Having grown up in different cultures, you invariably end up learning about the political climate of the country and one with which you end up keeping up with, for the most part. And with the different cultures, I am a mish mash of the different cultures from the different countries I grew up in to the point I'm not even sure where it all begins. As for traveling, it's the best thing on earth! I've carried on living the expat lifestyle so I can learn more about different cultures and travel the region where I'm based.



8. What are your thoughts on globalization? Current political situation?
I think globalization is a double edged sword. In one aspect, I think it's great that we are more exposed to different cultures, products, etc but the flip side of that is that everything is being watered down and homogeneous. What was once something different and new and exciting is no longer unique. I could go on and on about the pros and cons of globalization but let's leave it at that! 

Let's not even get started on the current political situation.. I prefer to read animal stories now instead of real news.... 

9. How are your thoughts on world affairs different from those around you?
For the most part, my peers and I are on the same page. But then again, you naturally tend to gravitate towards people with similar views. So while I may not surround myself with friends with opposing views, I do try to read blogs and news from those who don't see the world in the same way as I do. 

10. Do you plan on incorporating a large amount of travel with your career?
My career is not super portable, though it has allowed me to work in different countries - NYC, London and now Singapore. And because of that paycheck, I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel. So does that count? 


Jewels Wandering www.jewelswandering.com or find her on Instagram @jewels_wandering Twitter @jewelswandering or Facebook Jewels Wandering. 
All the pictures in this post were provided by Julie of Jewels Wandering. (c) All rights reserved



Thank you Julie for sharing your story!! If you would like to be featured on this series please drop me an email at ahdancecompany@gmail.com

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Monday, July 24, 2017

Third Culture Kid Spotlight: Miyon



1. What is your name?
Miyon

2. Where were you born?
South Korea



3. What is your heritage?
Korean

4. Where have you lived and how long at each place?
Not in a chronological order due to travels between countries:
Korea - 6 years
Japan - 6 years
Hong Kong - 2.5 years
New Zealand 0.5 years
U.S.A. - 8 years


5. What is your definition of "home" and how is it different from those around you?

Home is where I feel most comfortable. it is a place where I can meet my friends in the local area. It doesn't have to be a home from childhood, but it is the good memories that make me nostalgic and I call them homes.



6. Where do you consider "home" and why?

I consider my currrent home to be where I am now and where my friends currently live. Wherever I go, it is my being that carry with me. It is the relationships with others that tie me to the common experience associated with them.

7. Do you have interests in the following: foreign languages, international relations, travelling, international politics, different cultures of the world, etc... Yes/No
If so, do you think your background has helped you develop these interests?
Definitely. I am majored in international studies and I speak 3 languages fluently and took foreign language courses in 3 languages during college years. I studied abroad and traveled on my own, and am usually the first one to welcome new people (both international and domestic) that I meet on campus.

8. What are your thoughts on globalization? Current political situation?
Globalization is not something new. It's been there for thousands of years, if not longer. but I see that third culture kids are increasing in number and that will change the political dynamic as it already has including the Obama administration team.



9. How are your thoughts on world affairs different from those around you?

That world affairs is related to borders and how we define borders is tied to the political economy.


10. Do you plan on incorporating a large amount of travel with your career?

I will ultimately. I plan to work in the US and later in China, but I also would like to travel extensively in the future years that follow

11. Any last comments to future Third Culture Kids/Cross Culture Kids, any words of wisdom?

TCKs are unique but we are human just like everyone else. We all have a need for belonging and certainty. When we can embrace both the blessings and challenges from the place of grace, we can unleash the inner power to better serve the humanity. Be gracious to the process and don't forget to follow your passion. You are a gift to the world.



Thank You Miyon!!! If you would like to be a part of this series, please drop me an email at ahdancecompany@gmail.com

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Monday, July 3, 2017

Third Culture Kid Spotlight: Gabby





Gabby is a travel blogger and TCK, just like me. You can find her blog at Packs Light, an interesting girl who is passionate about travel, life, and making the world a better place.


1. What is your name?



Gabrielle, but you can call me Gabby! 



2. Where were you born?



San Diego, California, USA.


3. What is your heritage?


My father is 100% Jamaican.

My mother is 25% Italian, 25% Finnish, and 50% Cherokee-American mix.


4. Where have you lived and how long at each place?



California, USA - 1 year
Missouri, USA - 1 year
Virginia, USA - 5 years
Okinawa, Japan - 3 years
Virginia - 12 years
Dubai, UAE - 1 year
Virginia - currently





5. What is your definition of "home" and how is it different from those around you?



Home is not yet a concept to me. Home is whatever space I'm in at the time where I'm comfortable, and can hang my clothes up in a closet.

Other people may consider home where you've lived the longest or even where the majority of their family is, but that's just not how it is for me. I think I'll consider home where I start my career or find my significant other.


6. Do you have interests in the following: foreign languages, international relations, travelling, international politics, different cultures of the world, etc...  Yes/No If so, do you think your background has helped you develop these interests?

Yes I do! I actually have won multiple study abroad scholarships, and my year in Dubai was spent studying Middle Eastern studies and Arabic. I'm finishing up my degree in Mathematics now, but hope to get a career in international relations or international business.




7. What are your thoughts on globalization? Current political situation?

Globalization in an inevitability of the world. The more interconnected the world becomes, between governments and cultures and business, the better it is for all of us. Of course I think it's important to remember ones culture and geniology and respect it, I think it's more important to be globally aware.

8. How are your thoughts on world affairs different from those around you?


As I said, I try to have a more global and culturally relative perspective. My favorite quotes are, "You can't hate someone when you know their story", and "History will repeat itself".

9. Do you plan on incorporating a large amount of travel with your career?


Inshallah!



Thanks for sharing your story Gabby!