What is TCK Heritage?

I was interviewed recently by a woman doing research on TCK’s* and cross cultural people. There were two things that came up during the interview that particularly struck me.

She asked me if I considered myself a migrant. I said no. I had never thought of using that word to describe my situation. What is the difference between an expat and a migrant? Good question. According to the Oxford English Dictionary a migrant is:

  1. A person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions.

When I hear the word migrant, I think of the migrant worker. Somebody who follows the work by season, working in the fields. Migrants migrate from place to place as the need arises and work becomes available. Technically a migrant can be an expat.  People become expats for many reasons but a lot of them go to one place and then go home, most don’t go from place to place to place. A TCK does not choose where they are going and is not seeking work, they have no choice, so I would probably put them in the expat category but not the migrant one. That was my final answer. Care to discuss it?

The other thing she asked me about was heritage. What is heritage to a TCK? Was it formed by the cultures around me, did I make that part of my heritage, or was is something else? I have thought about this a lot since the interview. I found that I wasn’t sure what it meant. I discovered that there are two kinds of heritage. Tangible and Intangible. Tangible heritage includes architecture, archeology, objects, landscapes. Intangible is a bit more complex. The best definition I could find was a UNESCO site:

“…..intangible cultural heritage does not only represent inherited traditions from the past but also contemporary rural and urban practices in which diverse cultural groups take part;”

I always considered my heritage to be my family history. The fact that my family came from Ireland and Scotland to America in the 1700’s and gradually moved from the East coast to the Midwest where they eventually settled. They were immigrants and migrants. They were looking for work and a better life. They brought with them their particular variety of religion and their cultural traditions but I think much of it was lost in the great melting pot that became the USA. My family celebrates Thanksgiving and Christmas but not much else. My father never celebrated Thanksgiving growing up because it was corn picking season. On my grandparent’s farm there was always work to be done, didn’t matter what day it was.

Christmas in Burma with snow backdrop

Growing up TCK I didn’t have a deep connection with most of my extended family. I would see them once a year, if that, and didn’t have time to learn much. My parents tended to live in the moment so we learned about our current home’s history and traditions, wherever that was.  

When I lived in Mexico I knew a girl who went to the American school and lived in a neighborhood with a lot of other Americans. They had a girl scout group and celebrated all the USA holidays. One year she asked me to go over to her house for Halloween. I had dressed up a few times over the years when we lived in New York but it wasn’t really a part of our tradition. I liked getting the candy but to be honest I didn’t have any desire to repeat the experience. If I really thought about it, my life was way too interesting without having to participate in strange American rituals.

My current Christmas decorations

So, what is my heritage? As an adult I spent a long time doing genealogy research on my family. I thought it was fascinating to delve into my history and learn where I came from and how I got here. I ended up making a connection to their lives and mine because of the travel to parts unknown, etc. Something gave them the strength to do what they did and I felt it must be a part of me as well. So that is part of my heritage. Over the years I have learned about and celebrated many traditions from around the world and I have many objects in my home that have become a part of my heritage. Things my parents collected from Asia and Africa are now prominently displayed in my home and will someday probably be in my child’s home. They all have a story behind them and are an important part of who I am today.

What is my heritage?

It’s complicated….

 

*TCK stands for Third Culture Kid: Somebody who has grown up outside their passport country because of their parents’ work.

The Family

IMG_0010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flying home from my winter wonderland visit with the family I thought about a conversation my mother had with one of my nieces as they were saying good-bye.

Mother:  We really do have an odd family

Niece:  Should we take offense at that?

Mother:  Well, no, you are all very interesting.

Niece:  Interesting?  Now I know we are being insulted.

Mother:  But interesting is good.  I can’t think of anything worse than a bunch of boring people.

Niece:  Well, we certainly are not boring.

Mother:  No, none of you are boring!

 

It was all in good fun but it made me think of what makes up my non-boring family.  There were sixteen of us.  We are scattered across 5 states.

The patriarch grew up on a farm in Iowa and ended up spending over forty years as an expat.  He  met many Heads of State and he had been to 90 countries by the time he was 90.  The matriarch, kept up with him all the way also starting out in a small town in Iowa.  My brothers and I are third culture kids who grew up all over the world.

I married Nicholas, a Russian American whose parents were refugees after World War II.  Nicholas’ father never learned to speak English so Nicholas was his translator from a young age.  Nicholas used to tell me that coming home from school every day he felt like he was crossing a border into another country.  Most of his family still live in Russia.  Our son spent the first six years of his life in Russia and has traveled to many places around Europe.

My brother moved to Australia after college and met and married a woman from New Zealand.  She also came from a cross cultural family with roots in England and Australia.  Their children carry dual passports – New Zealand and USA.  They visit their relatives half way around the world whenever they can.

My niece married a first generation American with Indian roots.  She is now immersed in the traditions and culture of an extended Indian family.  One tradition included a rice eating ceremony for their baby daughter.  For this ceremony they needed a baby sari.  Not just any sari but a beautiful, fancy sari.  They found it was difficult to find one the USA and so another sister-in-law of mine and my niece are starting a baby sari business.  They have an Indian woman lined up to make the saris and they are working on a website to market their goods.  You will be hearing more about this as things progress.

So we are a cross cultural conglomeration.  And we all get along beautifully.

Cheers!

photo

 

Food Friday: Sicialian Twists

FoodLogo

photo(2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my son’s favorite cookie and he is usually the one who makes them. They take some time but are not difficult.

Sicilian Twists

Filling:

1.5 cups almonds

0.5 cup honey

0.5 tsp cinnamon

Put all ingredients in a food processor and go at it until you have a smooth paste.

photo(7)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Set aside

Dough:

2 cups flour

one-third cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

0.5 tsp salt

4 ounces (1 stick) cold butter cut into pieces

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

Combine the dry ingredients.

photo(9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the butter

photo(10)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can do this in a food processor or using your fingers. It should be mixed until it looks even and the butter is all incorporated.

Add the eggs, vanilla and zest.

The dough should be easily formed into a ball.

Flour your work surface and roll out the dough. I do half at a time. You can cool it in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic for a while if you think it needs more firming up.

photo(8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut into strips about 1.5 inches wide.

photo(5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spray your hands with cooking spray or rub with butter.

Take about 1 tablespoon of the filling and roll it it into a long thin tube and set in center of a strip of dough.

Fold over the dough to enclose the filling.

photo(4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut into thirds and twist each piece once or twice.

photo(6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment or foil.

Cook in 350 degree F oven for about 12-14 minutes – until slightly brown on the bottom.

Just before serving you can drizzle with honey and cover with sliced almonds. Mine never seem to last that long.

 

Happy New Year!!

 

 

Blog of the Year Thanksgiving

 

 

 

 

It is almost Thanksgiving Day in the USA.  I think it is the most important holiday we have.  It has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity.  It is the one day a year this big melting pot comes together on common ground and takes a moment to reflect on all the things they have and should be thankful for.  They don’t all eat Turkey, they don’t all watch Football, they don’t all have big families surrounding them, but they all have something to be thankful for, even if it is something small.  And this day should remind them of that.

One thing I am thankful for is this blog and all the fellow bloggers I have come in contact with over the past 8 months.  I love writing little stories and reading other people’s pieces.  I am only sorry I don’t have time to read as much as  I would like.  There is so much interesting stuff out there!!

Maggie at Fly Away Home was one of my first followers and she has been very supportive all the way through.  I have enjoyed reading about her life in Norway and growing up on the New Jersey shore.  Her book, Fly Away Home, is great! Check it out.

Maggie has now bestowed the Blog of the Year 2012 Award on me. Thank you, Maggie!

Well, it has been an interesting year.

I started my blog with my new Mantra:  “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

I have written 109 posts about growing up TCK, travel, genealogy, my current life, and various other miscellaneous things that popped into my head.  I started a Food Friday blog that brought me back to my love of cooking.  And, I published my memoir, Expat Alien.

Plus I had my gallbladder removed!!   (Thank you all for your comments and best wishes!)

I have a lot to be thankful for.

I am passing this award to:

Wanderlust Gene – because her beautiful photos are other-worldly and transport me to far away places

ExpatLingo – because she makes me laugh

Dounia – because she is a fellow TCK who “gets” it

Moonbeam McQueen– because she persevered and published her book, Peculiar Rhymes and Intimate Observations: A Book of Light Verse

Award Rules:

  • Select the blogs you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012 Award’.
  • Write a post and tell about the blogs you have chosen and present them with their award.
  • Please include a link back to this page Blog of the 2012 Year Award and include these rules (do not alter the rules or the badges).
  • Let the blogs you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the rules with them.
  • You can now also join our Facebook page – click the link here Blog of the Year 2012 Award and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience.

As a winner of the award please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award. Proudly display the award on your side bar and start collecting stars.

Chapultepec Castle

Chapultepec Castle

I lived in Mexico City for seven years.  I never saw any Cinco de Mayo celebrations until I moved to the USA years later.  In Mexico it is a regional holiday centered around the state of Puebla.  It commemorates the defeat of the French in the Battle of Puebla.  Napoleon III decided it would be a good idea to invade Mexico – for several reasons I won’t go into here.  The French army landed on the coast and marched in toward the capital.  As they reached Puebla, they met with heavy resistance.  Although there were only 4,000 ill equipped Mexicans, they were able to overcome and defeat the 8,000 well equipped French army on May 5, 1862.

Yay!  Margarita time!!

Unfortunately Napoleon III did not take this well.  The following year he sent a much larger army and was able to take over the Mexican government and place a puppet emperor at the head of it.  Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian was a Hapsburg and Commander in Chief of the Austrian Navy.  In May 1864 he arrived in Mexico as Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico.  He was accompanied by his wife, Charlotte, Princess of Belgium.

He was liked and supported by the conservatives but had problems with the liberal forces led by Benito Juarez who refused to recognize his rule.  Battles continued over the three years he was Emperor.  When the US Civil War ended, Abraham Lincoln supported Juarez and Napoleon III started to withdraw his troops.  Maximilian fought until the end but was captured and executed in June 1867.  In 1866 his wife, Charlotte, had returned to Europe seeking support for her husband but was unsuccessful.  She never returned to Mexico and spent the rest of her days, until her death in 1927, in seclusion.  They say she went insane and never acknowledged her husband’s death.

During the time they were in Mexico, they lived at Chapultepec Castle.  It is reminiscent of the palaces of Europe with one room leading into the next and all lavishly furnished.  It has big terraces with views overlooking Mexico City.  When we were in grade school we had school trips to see what is now a National Museum.  We could walk up the hill to the castle or we could enter the hill through a dark tunnel and take the elevator.  It was both scary and thrilling to risk taking the elevator!

Every year they would show the American 1939 movie “Juarez” on Mexican TV.  Bette Davis played Charlotte and she was wonderful.  It is a classic and I made sure I watched it every year.  I felt sorry for the European Emperor and his wife but the triumph over the French every year was exciting!!

Viva Mexico!  Happy Cinco de Mayo!!