In her post of a couple of weeks ago, columnist Sally Rose professed to having been "called" to the expat life. Her adult son saw this calling in her even before she did. When she told him she’d decided to move to Chile, he said: “I’ve been wondering why it’s taking you so long.”

 

That’s how the expat life felt for me—something I was born, rather than learned how, to do. Which is why I've been reading columnist Marianne Bohr’s series of posts about taking her middle-school students on a 9-day trip to France, with such interest.

 

Marianne expresses the hope that this early exposure to a European country and culture may one day inspire her charges to live, at least for a while, outside the United States, whether in her beloved France or somewhere else.

 

But can a love for the international life be taught?

 

I recall meeting, when I lived in Tokyo, an American couple who were long-time expats in Japan with only one child, a daughter. To their surprise, when their daughter reached college age, she applied for a Navy ROTC scholarship!

This may be an extreme example, but there are countless cases of kids who were raised abroad glomming onto their passport countries as adults.
Many of them don‘t strike me as being especially open or curious about the wider world. On the contrary, so much displacement has made them insular, and their closest friends tend to be fellow members of their nuclear families.

 

My parents certainly didn’t raise me to be an expat—though my mother did set an early example of openness. She was a person who embraced diversity long before it became a buzzword.

 

I have two sisters and, despite being brought up in the same environment, they did not choose to spend a significant chunk of their lives abroad. Nor do they have, as I do, mostly international friends.

 

So, are some of us called to be expats, or can this trait be cultivated? And if we are our own peculiar tribe, are there any early predictors of an inclination toward the life of an international creative?

 
—ML Awanohara
 
Photo credit: just how French, by thellr via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).
Want to extend your horizons even more? What to do if you’re in…

London: Book tickets NOW for the premiere full-length performance of Home Is Where…, taking place this coming Friday night, September 2nd, at Rich Mix, an arts centre on Bethnel Green Road. It’s a theatre piece about a dystopian future where Everyone Not-From-Here has been Sent Back—except what happens to those who don’t know where they’re from? Written by Guleraana Mir and directed by Amy Clare Tasker (she was a David C. Pollock Scholar at this year's FIGT conference), Home Is Where... features real-life stories collected from interviews with Third Culture Kids. NOTE: Guleraana Mir is leading a pre-show workshop, “My Culture, Our Culture”; register your interest ASAP at the above link.
 
Kuala Lumpur: Check out the lineup for this year's Japanese Film Festival, beginning September 8 and boasting impossible-to-see-anywhere-else screenings of the best movies made in Japan. All films are in Japanese with English subtitles. NOTE: Time Out KL is giving away four filmfest passes; to be eligible, fill in the questionnaire here by this Friday, September 2.
 
Tokyo: Hurry! Tonight is your last chance to enjoy a frozen mojito, and some Latin-themed eats, at the summer-only outdoor Midpark Café in Roppongi, sponsored by Bacardi and offering an alternative to the city’s ubiquitous summer beer gardens.

 
While we were all playing on social media:

A second life on the big screen: Journalist Kim Barker’s darkly comic and unsparing memoir, The Taliban Shuffle, about her five years spent covering the “forgotten war” in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has been made into a film starring Tina Fey, called Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Though the film takes poetic license with Barker’s story, it captures her feeling that humor is sometimes the only lens to view the constant horrors one encounters in a conflict zone.
 
Wild things: British wildlife celebrity Jonathan Scott has published his autobiography, The Big Cat Man, with Bradt Guides, telling the story of how he went from growing up on a Berkshire farm in the UK, to training as a zoologist, to working as wildlife artist and safari guide in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, to becoming a presenter for BBC, Animal Planet, and other major networks. Scott writes that from an early age he knew that “England was not for me”—that he wanted “a life of adventure combined with a window on to the wilderness.” Nowadays he and his wife, Angela, who is also a wildlife photographer, divide their time between a house in a leafy suburb of Nairobi, with giraffes as neighbors, and a cottage on the Maasai Mara.
 
Unpacking the TCK experience: Summertime Publishing has just come out with its latest Third Culture Kid title: Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century, by Tanya Crossman. Crossman, who grew up in her native Australia as well as in Greenwich, Connecticut, introduces the topic of Third Culture Kids through the personal stories of hundreds of individuals. She offers practical suggestions for how to offer this special group of expats care and support while they live overseas, when they return, and as they mature into adults.
 
#TLF16: The writers’ collective Triskele Books, which was co-founded by the originator of our Location, Locution column, JJ Marsh, is holding its first-ever litfest in Islington, London, on Saturday, September 17. Free and open to the public, the event features a pop-up bookshop (authors can register here) as well as panels on various genres of fiction—look out for displaced novelists  Leye Adenle, Sareeta Domingo, Jeff Norton, Liza Perrat (another Triskele co-founder), Sunny Singh, Radhika Swarup, and Felicia Yap.
 
Sharpen your writing skills: Families in Global Transition (FIGT) is seeking applicants for its Parfitt Pascoe Writing Residency, which includes opportunities for mentoring as well as a partial scholarship to the 2017 FIGT Conference in The Hague. Applications close on October 1st; more details here.
Updates from The Displaced Nation

WORLD OF WORDS: The travail of travel abroad with a group of middle schoolers (2/2)
What is it like to tour France with a bunch of American middle schoolers? It involves travel, for sure, but also no small amount of travail, as Marianne Bohr, who besides being a writer is a teacher of middle-school French, discovered this past spring break. This month we present Part Two of her lively travel/travail-ogue; anyone traveling with kids this summer should appreciate. (Miss Part One? Find it here.) We are now four days into April and my students and I have been to Paris and to several chateaux in the Loire Valley. Amid some moans, groans and yawns, …

LOCATION, LOCUTION: In trio of memoirs, Marjory McGinn celebrates life inside the heart of Greece at height of economic crisis
Tracey Warr is here with Marjory McGinn, a Scottish writer who grew up in Australia and now lives in East Sussex, England. In the course of a life spent trundling between Northern and Southern hemispheres, Marjory discovered Greece, which is the only non-English speaking country she has lived in (fortunately, she can speak some Greek). Her memoirs on her midlife Grecian adventures show a journalist’s eye for mood and detail and a gift for telling a good story, as Tracey’s interview will reveal….

**CONGRATS to the winner of Marjory McGinn’s third memoir of her life in Greece: A Scorpion in the Lemon Tree**

Other recent posts:

THE PERIPATETIC EXPAT: Against the wind, becoming a repatriate

CULTURE SHOCK TOOLBOX: The expat life is a craft you can practice, and there are bandaids, laughter & alone time when it doesn’t go well

TCK TALENT: The talented Lisa Liang goes to Asia with her one-woman show about growing up everywhere

WORLD OF WORDS: The travail of travel abroad with a group of middle schoolers (1/2)

LOCATION, LOCUTION: Writing in Finnish and English, expat novelist Emmi Itäranta creates fantasy worlds that feel palpably real
Matters of debate:

Despite the trend being set by Michael Phelps and other Olympic swimmers earlier this month, Chinese cupping isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When writer Alan Paul was an expat in Beijing, he decided to go for a traditional Chinese massage to relieve a pain that had flared up in his left shoulder and was alarmed to find the masseuse opted for cupping—a procedure that left him with “grotesque” bruises and made him feel “like someone had beaten my back with a baseball bat.”
 
Tallying Olympic medals by sheer numbers isn’t exactly fair. As American travel guru Rick Steves points out, if you take into account population, Jamaica with its six gold medals would be at the top of the list (US with its 46 medals would be 13th); and if you factor in GDP, Jamaica would also come out tops (US is no. 18).
 
Just as you greet elders first at a family gathering, the first time you visit a city, you should pay respect to its oldest monuments. Spain-based Pakistani writer Manal Kahn says she regards this not only as a duty but as a source of inspiration and power. (In Vienna, head for St. Stephen’s Cathedral; in Rome, the ancient, sprawling Palatine Hill; Tenerife, the 1,000-year-old dragon tree…)
 
There is simply no dinner party like a French dinner party. In the view of Rosecrans Baldwin, who wrote Paris, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down, the French get every element right—from the shopping (always farm to table), to the wine (carefully chosen), to the conversation (often about food!), to the guest composition (blend of young and old), to the length (minimum 90 minutes for the meal).


Surprising discoveries:

India’s train boarding methods are incredibly different from those in the West. According to Fly-to-Dubai’s culture shock infographic, getting on a crowded train in India involves furious shoving, scratching and even clawing—but then once you make it into the car and your journey begins, there’s a hyper-polite attitude of: “I’m so sorry I brushed your shoulder.”
 
When Germans dub English movies into German, the lips line up perfectly. American Dana Newman, despite having lived in Germany for six years, sometimes even has to ask whether the movie was originally in German or English. (Newman vlogs at Wanted Adventure.)
 
Irish people constitute by far the largest cluster of expats in the Turkish seaside resort town of Kuşadası. In addition to the sun (300 days of sunshine per year) and the geographical proximity (direct charter flights from Ireland to nearby İzmir airport), the Irish may be attracted to the region because of blood and cultural ties: a recent study suggests that the Irish descended from Turkish farmers around 6,000 years ago.
 
On average, “third country couples” (where husband and wife are of different nationalities but live in a third country) are well adjusted. They tend to be better educated and have a more cosmopolitan outlook than couples with at least one local partner, observes journalist and former expat Sabine Muscat.
We hope you have a glorious fortnight of international creativity. Please send any news, comments, invites to French dinner parties, and Japanese mojitos to ml@thedisplacednation.com. You can follow us on Facebook here and/or Twitter here for more frequent updates.

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