"Where are you from?" is a difficult question for third culture kids (or expat kids). Often there is no simple answer. Just like Victoria explains on this video. She actually often answers "I'm not from anywhere". When you hear her story you will understand why she says that. For those who do not have time to watch I will let you in on her secret. The background of her family is Ukrainian but she was born in Richmond, Virginia, she lived in Russia, Italy, Syria, Germany, China and then back yo the USA. (Excuse some of the language in the video). I have included this video because Victoria explains what is was like to return to the USA. She discovered that she felt so embarrassed because she did not know how to say "the pledge of Allegiance" , she could not name all the American presidents, she had not had American history but I am sure she knew lots of other things. Victoria was teased for not knowing the names of all the presidents, imagine that. People asked her the dumbest questions: like did you ride camels wherever you went in Syria?
Moving was a constant factor in her life. There was always only a short time to make friends before she would loose them again because they would move on. She really wonders how people can live in one place all their lives, is it not boring? Victoria is looking for an international job because that's what she is comfortable with, that is what she knows. She says the best way to discover a culture is to eat the food. She ends by saying that she has to go and do something, learn a language or make a move.
Just like Victoria, I found it hard to answer the question: where are you from? I remember being embarrassed because there were things here in the Netherlands that I did not know about. To this day I am still not very good in Dutch geography, knowing where place are. I can tell you lots about places in Zimbabwe, would that do? I recently discovered that there is an online mentoring program for expat youths called Sea Change Mentoring. They aim to prepare young people returning to their "home country" to minimize reverse culture shock and to maximize the benefits of having lived abroad. That sounds really good, I wish there had been something like this when I moved from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe to university in the Netherlands. That was a real shock, I wrote about it earlier: The most difficult transition for third culture kids.
What was your experience like? Did you have embarrassing moments? Did you have a reverse culture shock? Do you have advice for kids returning to their "home" country? Do you know where you're from?