When my parents were naming me, they made sure that my name did not contain any characters not in the English alphabet, so that my name could always be spelled correctly in computer systems. They also made sure that it did not mean anything embarrassing in any of the languages that they knew or that their friends knew. When I was a baby, my father put me to sleep by dancing with me on his shoulder to Brazilian music in our living room in a land of cold and snow. My mother was an immigrant, my father was the son of an immigrant. Our family was always bilingual. And my father worked for a major international company. It should not have been a surprise that I became a third culture kid or a global nomad. Our family has always moved between countries—but today, one person can not only immigrate—we can live a truly global life. This is a site dedicated to that lifestyle.
I attended university in the United States, and wrote a graduation project of sorts called an honors project on people like myself. This web page is an adaptation of that project. I hope that this can help others like myself find their footing faster than I did, and help those near and dear to us better understand what kind of a mental world we live in. Jonathan Müller tells an anecdote in his thesis I think many of us will recognize.
Vor einiger Zeit was ich in Guinea zu Besuch. Ich ging auf den Markt und begann um einen Preis zu handeln. Plötzlich schaute mich der Verkäufer ganz verblüfft an und fragte: "Toi tu es sorti où? Tu te compotes comme nous." Ein Mann, der daneben stand, erwiederte: "Èhèè! Tu ne vois pas? Il est blanc mais dans son coeur il est noir."
A while ago, I was in Guinea on a visit. I went to the market and started haggling over a price. Suddenly, the salesman looked at me in surprise and said, "Where are you from? You behave like we do." Another man standing nearby replied: "Oh! Can't you see? He is white but in his heart, he is black."
The pictures in the header are all from different familiar places in my life. There's a street south of 前门 (Qiánmén) in 北京 (Běijīng), me and my mother skiing in Trysilfjellet in Norway (one of our local favorites), a waterfall in 黑山谷 (hēishāngǔ) National Park in 四川 (Sìchuān), my mother and I on my 18th birthday on the 司马台长城 (Sīmǎtái) section of the Great Wall, one of my apartment buildings, a Nordic forest (I've spent a lot of time walking and hiking in those), a country road in Finland, and my downtown bus passing 建国门 (Jiànguómén in 北京 (Běijīng).