The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

And the September 2013 Alices go to … these 4 international creatives

 © Iamezan | Used under license

© Iamezan |
Used under license

If you are a subscriber to our weekly newsletter, Displaced Dispatch, you’re already in the know. But if you’re not (and why aren’t you? off with your head!), listen up. Every week, when that esteemed publication comes out, we present an “Alice Award” to a writer or other kind of creative person who we think has a special handle on the curious and unreal, who knows what it means to be truly displaced as a global resident or voyager. Not only that, but this person tries to use this state of befuddlement to their advantage, as a spur to greater creative heights.

Today’s post honors September’s four Alice recipients.

Starting with the most recent, and this time with annotations, they are (drumroll…):

1) SHERRY OTT, travel photographer and blogger

Source: Photographing Vietnam’s Rainy Season,” on Everything Everywhere
Posted on: 20 September 2013

From a cultural experience and photography standpoint, inclement weather seasons are a wonderful opportunity to see how the locals really live in situations that we would deem less desirable. You get a true feel for the country and local culture and traditions through the “tough” times. On top of it you get introduced to a number of new products that are used in that inclement weather season that you probably never even dreamed of…

Citation: Sherry, we have to stop you there. Right now we are picturing Alice sloshing through her own tears:

As she said these words her foot slipped, and in another moment, splash! she was up to her chin in salt water. Her first idea was that she had somehow fallen into the sea, “and in that case I can go back by railway,” she said to herself.

But what interests us about you, Sherry—what’s curiouser and curiouser, as Alice might put it—is that, unlike her, you were not having a pool-of-tears moment. As you set foot in Saigon at the height of the monsoon season, your first thought was, my, how lucky I am to see “the skies open up and pour down their wrath on city streets.” And you know what, Sherry? We agree with you. Unlike Alice, who had no means of transport except possibly the train, you had your own motorbike. Also unlike her, you were privy to some unusual sights: double-headed ponchos and ponchos with headlight windows! Poor Alice, on the other hand, when she heard something splashing about in a pool a little ways off, thought she might encounter a walrus or hippopotamus, only to find … a mouse.

2) ALYSSA JAMES Canadian blogger, journalist, traveler

Source: How fast can you slow travel?” on Matador Network
Posted on: 13 September 2013

Because of regulations on how long a truck driver is allowed to be on the road in a day, I was able to explore the city [of Chicago] for exactly 1 hour and 19 minutes.

In those 79 minutes, I was still able to slow travel. I visited the sculpture and centerpiece of Millennium Park known as the Bean (actually called Cloud Gate) and went to the Art Institute. More importantly, I talked with people who lived there. I received interesting insights about the place I wouldn’t have gathered otherwise, like where to get the most delicious Chicago-style pizza ever (Giordano’s deep-dish, double-crusted and stuffed deliciousness).

Citation: Alyssa, we appreciate that you were able to plumb the depths of the Windy City, the largest city in the Midwest, America’s third largest, in just over an hour (hey, that’s no mean feat given how deep the pizza is!). And all this without the benefit of the Queen’s insights in Through the Looking Glass:

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, HERE, you see, it takes all the running YOU can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

Our only question is, had you followed the Queen’s advice and run twice as fast, do you think you might have at least sampled the stuffed pizza? And of course, had you run twice as fast, you could have sampled it guilt-free! That’s a thought. Next time, perhaps?

3)  ANNE COPELAND, founder and Executive Director of The Interchange Institute

Source: “Tiger Moms, Bébés, and Warm Eskimos” on FIGT blog
Posted on: 1 September 2013

[A]s an interculturalist, I’m at once fascinated, excited … and disappointed by these accounts of parenting in other cultures…. In each case, the message is roughly, “Here’s a new and superior way to raise your children; the result is better than what you’re doing; try it, you’ll like it.” But nowhere do they describe the deep values underlying the parenting choices, the ultimate goals for the kind of adult parents are trying to raise, or the cultural milieu into which the children will be expected to grow.

Citation: Anne, we feel certain that Alice could relate to your woes. She was, after all, rather discombobulated by what she saw of the Duchess’s parenting style. To quote from her account:

While the Duchess sang the second verse of the song, she kept tossing the baby violently up and down, and the poor little thing howled so, that Alice could hardly hear the words:—
“I speak severely to my boy,
I beat him when he sneezes;
For he can thoroughly enjoy
The pepper when he pleases!”

Just imagine, a child that enjoys unlimited amounts of pepper thanks to harsh parenting. It totally makes sense in the Wonderland context. Except…achoo! or should we say: hach-chu (Bengali), hāt-chī (Cantonese), atsjú (Hungarian), aatsjoo (Norwegian), or atchoum (French)? In any case, some sort of onomatopoeia must be required. Parenting may vary from place to place, but not sneezing! But wait, the Japanese say hakushon. Are they trying to stifle the sneeze while frantically searching for a face mask? (Anne, please tell us: will intercultural wonders ever cease?)

4)  NIKKI HODGSON, blogger & traveler

Source: “What is lost (and gained) when the traveler settles down” on Matador Network
Posted on: 16 August 2013

“…Every day that passes separates me from the places I used to belong to, the places I learned to belong to. As I dig my roots deeper into the rocky Colorado soil, I must relinquish my grasp of the banks of the Neckar where I first studied abroad, the mountains of Grenoble that stood guard over me as I fell apart, the dusty hills of Bethlehem where I put myself back together.

And I know that I will never belong to these places the way I once did.”

Citation: Nikki, you put us in mind of Alice’s sister, who like you after your travels, was old and wise enough to know that Wonderland wouldn’t, couldn’t last. Here is the relevant passage:

So she sat on, with closed eyes, and half believed herself in Wonderland, though she knew she had but to open them again, and all would change to dull reality—the grass would be only rustling in the wind, and the pool rippling to the waving of the reeds…

Crazy Wonderland or dull reality? Or, in your case: dusty hills or rocky soil? That is THE expat question… Not much of a choice, is it?

*  *  *

So, readers, do you have a favorite from the above, or have you read any recent posts you think deserve an Alice Award?  We’d love to hear your suggestions! And don’t miss out on these weekly sources of inspiration. Get on our subscription list now!

STAY TUNED for our next post!

Writers and other international creatives: If you want to know in advance whether you’re one of our Alice Award winners, sign up to receive The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with news of book giveaways, future posts, and of course, our weekly Alice Award!. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

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