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It’s described as a unique word with no equivalent in English. It’s origin is Portuguese and it was first used in the 13th Century. It is a longing, a melancholy, a desire for what was. It is “Saudade”.

Many immigrants and refugees search for words that adequately describe the peculiar longing for what they left behind. Not the war and evil that is a relief to escape, but the land, the people, the food – all that encompasses that which is home. Doctors and nurses working with large populations of immigrants and refugees often simply put it down as “depression”.

In one instance I know of a health center that desperately tried to find out through a survey what percentage of their immigrant and refugee patients had depression. The survey was unsuccessful.

It did not reflect the narrative that these health care providers were hearing from patients……To read more of this essay and many more on third culture kids and living between worlds, go to Amazon.com and purchase the book Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging. Kindle edition is only $3.99! 


It’s funny how the simple act of discovering a word that gives meaning to those feelings can validate and heal. That is what I believe “Saudade” can do for the third culture kid.

Between WorldsFor more reading on Third Culture Kids make sure to purchase the book Between Worlds – Essays on Culture and Belonging available July 1, 2014 from Amazon.

Be sure to read the outstanding comments below from others who live between worlds.