Home keeps moving. A glimpse into the extraordinary life of a "Third Culture Kid" by Heidi Sand-Hart is an engaging narrative of a 1980's child-hood spent negotiating several different countries and the attendant array of cultures, homes, schools and relationships. Heidi, a "missionary kid" (MK), with parents from different European countries, weaves perceptions and reflections of her own experience in a kaleidoscope world of changing realities in and out of contributions from other "Third Culture Kids" (TCK's). As Ruth E.van Reken, co-author of Third Culture Kids: Growing up among Worlds, helpfully points out in her forward to Heidi's book; the TCK experience is one which has resonance and meaning in a rapidly globalising world, where mobility and cultural interchange has increasingly replaced static, monocultural lifestyles. Essentially, this is a book which presents the joys and challenges, frustrations and successes of lives and identities negotiated and re-negotiated in transit lounges, passport queues and baggage reclaim -those places which are neither here nor there but somewhere between worlds. I call this the territory of the expanding identity.
As a TCK myself - albeit one with a far less complex history - I can readily identify with the issues Heidi raises: the mixed loyalties, the acceptance of difference (and the attendant anger and dismay at those who don't), the restless search for identity, feelings of rootlessness and yes, there is also the undercurrent of tidal grief which ebbs and flows through memories and experiences and friendships come and gone. Heidi and others share their struggles of faith and are real about the questions and the rebellions as well as the potential strengths afforded by their "untraditional" childhoods. One catches a glimpse of both the potentials and the pains of identities forged in the fissures between times and places (and for some TCKs these are multiple). How these identities flourish, it seems to me, depends to what degree one can integrate an expanding identity and let go of ones idealised identities...however many they may be! To embrace the reality of our complex fusion of worlds and peoples, cultures and values and perceive ourselves, not as "broken reflections" but rather as part of an expanding representation of what it means to be human is perhaps the deepest gift a TCK has to receive and make sense of. It is, as such, a gift to be shared; a gift of grace in a globalised world where increasingly integrity and wisdom are needed to negotiate the kaleidoscope of hybrid identities. Heidi points us towards that path of grace and suggests that yes, it is possible to live fruitfully in the expanded middle, beyond the boundaries yet within them. If you listen deeply you may hear the subconscious plea which many TCK's carry, in the words of a well known TCK, Salman Rushdie, "For God's sake, open the universe a little more!".
This is an easily read book for parents, friends and children of TCK's as well as those of us who are TCK's ourselves in that it shares reflections (and there are photos too!) on journeys taken. It does not set out, however, to be a "how to" survival manual nor an academic treatise of TCK identity. Perhaps its aim is best summarised in Heidi's own words: "It is my hope that you gain a wider understanding of the misunderstood race of TCKs...My goal is to bring validation to fellow TCKs-and insight to help others understand us...my only hope is that it falls into the right hands." (pp17-18; Introduction).