Monday, 17 January 2011

What's Hot, What's Not - 'Home Keeps Moving' by Heidi Sand-Hart.







" This book is dedicated to all the Third Culture Kids of this world. 

Be strong and be true to yourself!




These days, with many people relocating all over the world, chasing after employment possibilities, consolidating inter-racial or cross border relationships or making world trips out of pure curiosity, it seems that the inhabitants of the world are gradually transforming into one big planetary multi-cultural society. Although this is not an entirely new phenomenon, as man has traveled the world for centuries, these days, modern technology means that we can reach the other side of the world in the blink of an eye, as opposed to the weeks and sometimes even months it used to take in the past. As a result we can begin to see the start of the blurring of borders, and eventually, we may well be able to classify ourselves as world citizens, as opposed to just an inhabitant of a particular town, city, or country.




It is from this perspective that Heidi Sand-Hart’s story begins. The child of traveling missionaries, her father is Norwegian and her mother is Finnish and she was born and raised in England, a greater portion of which is spent in London, amongst the Asian community:




“My parents’ work targeted the Indian community of England, so we grew up on curry and chapattis and were predominantly surrounded by Indians.”




Her experiences and resources are taken initially from her family’s global travel, as well as the three cultures that constitute her identity. As a result, there is no one culture that she can claim as her own, rather an amalgamation of the three, shaping her life as a third culture kid (TCK) and Missionary Kid (MK).




She has spent the greater part of her young life traveling all over the world, living in countries such as India, where school trips were by no means ordinary, and involved visiting jungles inhabited by tigers and elephants and crystal clear lakes. It is here too that her mother set up two orphanages, to help the unwanted baby girls rejected by their families, who would be unable to meet the demands of the customary dowry expected of them when the girl reached marrying age. So, from an early age Heidi learnt to interact with people from other cultures and had the added bonus of young Indian sisters to play with. 




Heidi perceives herself as a global nomad, as during her informative years (due to her parents missionary work), they generally spent no more than four years in any one place, often moving after only one or two years; as a result she attended over 9 different schools. Her life although challenging has been unique, and although friends have been hard to make along the way, those that remain, are worth their weight in gold. Adaptation becomes the name of the game, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. One point she does make, however, is that she sees all the variety and excitement she has experienced as a gift. ‘Real life’ is rather more mundane and to try to re-create this lifestyle now as an adult would cause her to be alienated from her peers.





Often feeling mature beyond her years, and grappling with unresolved grief within, as well as the delayed adolescent rebellion (due to a highly organized and pressured nomadic existence) has meant that compiling Home Keeps Moving has been a long time in the making. It wasn’t until she came across the “Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds”, by Ruth van Reken and Dave Pollock that she was able begin to rationalize her thoughts enough to make headway and to express precisely what she thinks makes her feel different as a TCK, in comparison to others.




A cultural chameleon she certainly is, and it is interesting to hear that she has managed to build a relationship (on her own terms) with each of the three main cultures she is involved with. Of her birth country England she says: “Whenever I arrive in London, the familiarity makes me feel at home...like I almost belong there”. Of Norway: “It was never more than a summer holiday destination to me, until we moved there in 1996, and it highlighted a lot of TCK tendencies to me, so for that I am grateful”. And finally, of her mother’s country, Finland: “Finland is called “the Land of a Thousand Lakes,” and I have pleasant memories of steaming hot saunas, night swims, roasting sausages on open fires, moonlit boat trips with our cousins, adventure, and beauty”. But as to where she considers home to be: “The truthful answer is that home is wherever my family members are”.





Heidi’s book, ‘Home Keeps Moving’, provides the reader with an honest and interesting account of the life of a TCK and MK. As well as including her own experiences, for extra dimension, she has included accounts from other multi-cultural global nomads and TCKs, including her brother, Ben. Her story touches on the advantages and disadvantages of being a third culture kid in today’s world. It is a lifestyle, which can be said to provide, on the one hand, a rich education about the real world and its issues, as well as how to interact with people of many cultures, and on the other, how to deal with culture shock, continual packing and unpacking, and the inevitable restlessness caused by the lifestyle of a global nomad.


If you would like to read Home Keeps Moving the book can be ordered here


© Alison Day

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First published in the Connections magazine #30 Winter 2011

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