Third culture kids in the world: where do we belong?

Image by Montevideo from Pixabay
  • I spoke broken Spanish but fluent English.
  • My school year was different from my friends, and I spent eight months every year at boarding school. My summer holidays were right in the middle of their school year.
  • My skin colour, mannerisms, and cultural background were all different.

Going home

  • I spoke English with an international American accent, picked up from seven years of boarding school.
  • Apart from being the weird kid that spoke English with an American accent, I also spoke Spanish and had lived in a country that people had barely even heard of. The best they knew was the Panama Canal. That all changed when the US invaded in 1989, and they discovered Noriega.
  • I had never actually lived in New Zealand more than passing holidays and stays and had no idea how to fit in with the culture. Especially not returning to a public school of 1,500 high school students after my sheltered life at a small boarding school of fewer than 100 students.
Image by Danni van der Merwe from Pixabay

Coming home

Image by Ronald Kötz from Pixabay
  • The vocabulary I had and needed at fifteen no longer suited the 23-year-old me that had a University education and a year’s business experience. I found myself with a headache just trying to read the newspaper's business section, with a dictionary next to me.
  • Despite carrying a Panamanian passport since I was a baby, with countless renewals, when I went to get my cédula (national ID card), I found myself faced with countless obstacles. I was confronted by more than one official insinuating that my Panamanian birth and nationality were questionable, without recognising that it was their intentions that I should question. I realise now they were looking for kickbacks — but naive and innocent me had no idea how the world worked.
Image by lapping from Pixabay

Swings and roundabouts: where do we belong?

How do I create a world for her in which she belongs?

Image by Ron Porter from Pixabay




blogger, coach, and international law consultant. Writing about faith, growth, transformation & change.

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Beth Gray

Beth Gray

blogger, coach, and international law consultant. Writing about faith, growth, transformation & change.

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