29 January, 2014

Where are you from?

Great blog post here about a question we often get asked: "Where are you from?" 

But the post doesn't really answer the question, probably for a very good reason: there is no good, quick answer to this question for people like us who've lived in different countries. 
There's lots of Australian in us, but we
don't identify as 100% Australian anymore.

It's a lot easier for us parents who went overseas after living our whole lives in the same state, but still . . . my house and therefore my home is here in Japan. This is where we lived most of the last 13 years and where we've brought up our family. We have a very settled life here.

But my home is also in Australia. I strongly identify as an Australian and that is how other non-Aussies see me. 

It gets more complex when people want to know, "Where in Australia are you from?" David and I have the places we grew up in, where our families largely still are, but that isn't where we relocate to when we return to Australia to live for a bit. We both identify Brisbane as the place where we've belonged as adults.

TCKs and home
But when you start asking our kids this question, it gets even worse. They identify with both Australia and Japan. There are huge gaps of missing knowledge about both these places, yet this is their life.

Here is a thought provoking and encouraging blogpost about raising Third Culture Kids. (A newer term is "Cross Cultural Kids: a person who has lived in–or meaningfully interacted with–two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during developmental years." www.tcklife.com/en/disclaimer-topmenu-52.html)

This is a video (9 minutes) that's been around for a while, but you may not have seen it. It is a well edited set of interviews with TCKs (Third Culture Kids) talking about "Where is Home?" This is a topic that most people we meet in Australia misunderstand. They ask our kids,

"So, is it good to be home?"
"What do you most like about Japan?"

Here is an interesting post about our boys' perspective on where home was, which I wrote 3 1/2 years ago when we were living in Australia on our last home assignment.

How are they feeling?
So, people at this end who have their own TCKs are asking us at the moment, "How are the boys feeling about going back to Australia for a year?" And my answer is mixed. In some ways they are very focused on the present. They have a lot going on in their lives that claims a lot of their attention, but every now and then something comes up and someone comments on something they'll miss while in Australia. 

I do remind them that, while it is pretty obvious the things they'll miss (like for one, the Electricity Unit in Grade 4), they don't know what they'll gain. One of them pondered how people would react to his fairly American accent. 

In any case. If you ever meet my kids, don't ask them questions like "Where's home?" or "Do you like Australia or Japan best?" because they really won't know how to answer them.

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