Columnist Dounia Bertuccelli is back with a third round of poems composed by Third Culture Kids in answer to that vexed “where are you from?” question.
Hello again, fellow Displaced Nationers, global nomads, expats, Third Culture Kids and other curious travelers! As March comes in like a lion (here on the U.S. East Coast, where Winter Storm Riley has become a strong nor’easter, hitting us with wind, snow and rain), I’d like to present the third post in my series of TCK poetry. If you missed the first two, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2.
The poems are the work of a group of 11th and 12th graders at an international school in Malta. Their teacher wanted them to think more deeply about what “home” means for them, given that they are all growing up in more than one country.
Before we leave the topic of the weather: We in the Western Hemisphere may be growing tired of winter at this point (the so-called Beast from the East has just swept across Europe). But it’s interesting to note that although all three of the young people featured below are from colder countries than Malta, which enjoys mild winters and warm-to-hot summers, two of them recall the winter season in their poetry. Hm, does absence make the heart grow fonder?
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Where I’m From
By Yoana Tsekova
I’m from the Southeast,
from the Black Sea,
from aromatic rose oil and healing rivers
From weddings and divorces
surrounded by cave paintings.
I’m from movement to fill space,
from applauses and projectors and sleepless nights.
From the ashes of the campfire,
from shaking heads for ‘yes’,
and nodding for ‘no’.
I’m from here and from there
From water balloon gaffes
From white lies to protect friends,
From moments and laughs.
There is a small country that no one knows about.
And there is a small girl that everyone teaches how.
I’m from there—
from gold and rust
And easy trust.
Yoana is Bulgarian and she lived in Malta from 2015 to 2017.
Where I’m From
By Ivan Orlav
I can see a lot of cars
but few people from the window
I can smell the kitchen scents
mixed with the paint from my porch—
Sweet and chemical.
I feel the heat inside the house
and the cold outside the door
I shiver during winter
and feel refreshed during summer.
I’m from the white wool
falling from the sky,
cooling the ground,
for two thirds of the year.
Editor’s Note: We are checking on Ivan Orlav’s country of origin but suspect it is Russia.
Where I’m From
By Judith Smit
I am from Napoleon Bonaparte’s bronze soil,
I am from the silver trust in the eyes of a horse.
I am from the blonde country’s golden hair.
I am from surviving
And winning over the lower levels.
From creativity and freedom
And the possibilities that create dreams.
I am from diversity
And from sharing stroopwafels.
I am from the red
Blood flowing on an ancient stone wall,
From the white
Belly of a Burmese mountain dog,
From the blue
wavy water that never ceases.
I am the fiery clean energy,
The air scented by tulips,
And the unexpected weather.
Judith is from the Netherlands; she has lived in Malta and Holland.
* * *
We love to hear from our readers, so please leave any thoughts, questions, suggestions—and yes, poetry—in the comments! During the last round, it was great to get a poem from Cinda MacKinnon, an Adult Third Culture Kid and novelist whose work has been featured on the Displaced Nation. You can read it here.
Born in Nicosia, Cyprus, to Lebanese parents, Dounia Bertuccelli has lived in France, UK, Australia, Philippines, Mexico, and the USA—but never in Lebanon. She writes about her experiences growing up as a TCK and adjusting as an adult TCK on her blog Next Stop, which is a collection of prose, poetry and photography. She also serves as the managing editor of The Black Expat; Expat Resource Manager for Global Living Magazine; and is a freelance writer and editor. Currently based on the East Coast of the United States, she is happily married to a fellow TCK who shares her love for travel, music and good food. To learn more about Dounia, please read her interview with former TCK Talent columnist Lisa Liang. You can also follow her on Twitter.
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– Photo of Bulgaria by Alexandr Bormotin on Unsplash
– Photo of Russian snow by Anton Scherbakov on Unsplash
– Photo of stroopwafels from Pixabay.