I’m From….

I’m From…by Robynn and Adelaide

passport-Adelaide

Adelaide is a sophomore in high school. She’s in grade 10. The Language Arts teacher wanted them to write a poem introducing themselves to her and to the class. It was a simple assignment. Five short stanzas. Two lines each. Begin each stanza with, “I’m from…”. Apparently the teacher’s included lines like, “I’m from the yellow kitchen, blue popsicles and red posies. I’m from the white house, the fenced yard, the barking beagle”.

It’s a good assignment.

Theoretically.

Unless where you’re from is convoluted. Unless you’ve inherited some confusion on that particular subject. Unless it’s too long of a story to be captured neatly in five short stanzas.

And then it’s not such a great assignment.

Adelaide cranked out a rough draft. The teacher read it over Adelaide’s shoulder. She cautioned her on being too vague. It wasn’t specific enough. It didn’t describe where Adelaide was from. She should give it another go.

Over the weekend, sprawled on her bedroom floor, Adelaide read her first draft out loud. I loved it. Tears sprang to my eyes. My young daughter had captured the ambiguities of a globally scattered childhood succinctly. She discerned her own angst. She understood mine too.

We talked about what she should do. I didn’t want her to make any changes and yet she needed to meet her teacher’s expectations. Eventually she tweaked it some. But it was her original first draft that I connected with.

   I’m from the wide airplane wings

                                Swooping me up and setting me down.

                I’m from the navy blue passport

                                Filled with endless destinations.

                I’m from the suitcases not always full

                                Yet always tucked away in the corner.

                I’m from the experiences, the people, the places

                                From North America to Europe to Asia.

                I’m from never knowing where I’m from

                                       But always feeling at home.

 

Now it’s your  turn – using the same format, where are you from? And many thanks to the beautiful Adelaide for starting the conversation.

For more posts on Third Culture Kids go here.

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Picture Credit: http://pixabay.com/en/united-states-usa-passport-blue-315266/  and word art by Mgardner

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69 thoughts on “I’m From….

  1. Hello Marilyn, I just happened to follow several posts until I was brought here. I know this is well after you posted this poem. I am a working on a project for my master’s in School Counseling. I would love to have your permission to use Adelaide’s original poem for this assignment, and possible future group work. I started a blog about a year ago, but I haven’t really posted in a while. If you would like to check it out, go to melissa-middlebrooks.com Thank you for sharing. Please tell Adelaide her poem is still appreciated.

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    1. Hello Melissa! I am so sorry for the delay in sending this! I have spoken to Adelaide by way of her mom – and they are thrilled that you want to use. If you could just attribute it to Adelaide Bliss written for Communicating Across Boundaries. Thanks so much for reaching out!

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      1. Awesome! You responded in the nick of time because the project/presentation is this weekend! I will certainly give Adelaide the appropriate attributions and credit.

        The prompt and thinking about it means a lot to me as well. I moved a lot within the state of Texas growing up, and I’ve continued moving as an adult. Home can be a hard place to pinpoint, and where I’m from is often too complicated to explain quickly. I love this!

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      2. Oh good! So glad that you received my response. It is complicated isn’t it? And with the many people displaced in our world today, it becomes even more so.

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  2. I love this! Here’s my effort:

    I’m from the edges of the map
    the edges of the Pacific

    I’m from the edges of the room
    the outside looking in

    I’m from Southeast Asia
    unless you mean my nationality

    I’m from the U.S.
    unless you mean where my heart is

    I’m not from here
    wherever “here” is

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I shared this with one of my TCK sons who told me that just yesterday he was reading Psalm 90 (where Moses talks about the days of affliction that they faced). My son said that the commentator made a note that really resonated with him, referring to the years of these people wandering through the desert and living in different countries….and how Moses opens up this Psalm with these verses: 1 “Lord, You have been our [b]dwelling place in all generations.
    2 Before the mountains were born
    [c]Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
    Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”

    My son was touched at the thought of a nomadic person (Moses) and a nomadic people being “at home” even prior to reaching the promised land because God had been their “dwelling place,” their home! What an awesome thought! I think about my own life of travels (starting as a military brat and then in adulthood in the humanitarian realm…I think about how God has been my dwelling place and how His people have been my family….my brothers, my sisters, my parents. I thought about how easy it is for me to meet a believer in a new place and feel instantly like I have family there.

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  4. Reblogged this on The Education Cafe and commented:
    This moving post and poem originated with an assignment from and English teacher. While a great idea for anyone, TCKs and their parents will be especially blessed reading this post as well as the comments beneath it. You may even want to try writing your own version (or having your students write one).

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    1. Marilyn, I recommend going into the edit/admin for this post and in the “excerpt” box put the following excerpt so that it shows up on your home page as a teaser/intro for this post: “The Language Arts teacher wanted them to write a poem introducing themselves to her and to the class. It was a simple assignment. Five short stanzas. Two lines each. …It’s a good assignment…Unless where you’re from is convoluted. Unless you’ve inherited some confusion on that particular subject. Unless it’s too long of a story to be captured neatly in five short stanzas.”

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      1. I actually just figured out how to use it myself. I have enjoyed going back to some of my posts and making more interesting “teasers” for them.

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  5. Adelaide said it beautifully.

    I took your challenge. It was hard, and put me in a somber mood.

    I’m from a sea of brown faces
    Pinching my white cheeks

    I’m from barefoot roads
    Trying to clench feet into shoes

    I’m from the world
    Fit into an envelope

    I’m from a feeling of nostalgia
    Of a place where I can never return

    I’m from a place without borders
    With my feet always prone to wander

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  6. This brought tears to my eyes as I also have a 10th grade daughter who has traveled the world all her life. It’s always a tough question for her. She is currently doing her sophomore personal project on how to handle life as a Third Culture Kid. Thanks for this inspiration. I think she should add in a poem like this. A really moving post!!

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  7. I’m sorry the teacher initially missed the opportunity to talk about the ambiguities of how people form their identities. I am a drama teacher at an international school and use the same exercise. Instead of leaving it at face value, I talk with them about what a difficult question “where are you from?” can be to answer for people who move around a lot. I tell them that they can think about being “from” the things that are important to them. It is so exciting to see what they come up with. They write little tapestries of the world!

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  8. Beautiful! Brilliant! Perfect! Thank you for sharing with us.

    Inspired me to do a version about the things that stay the same for our family even though we move all over the world. Not nearly as eloquent as your daughter’s poem, but a lovely process for me to go through.

    I’m from the Land of Spontaneous Dance Parties
    and Friday Night Movies with popcorn.

    I’m from a forever temporary kitchen
    that always serves waffles on Saturday.

    I’m from the tallest Pillow Mountain,
    perfect for tickle fights, snuggling, and stories.

    I’m from the Hall of Sticky Walls & Muddy Floors,
    with art supplies strewn across the table.

    I’m from that quiet moment every day
    when kneeling together, we see where to go.

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  9. I’m still wiping the tears off my face. She nailed it. A+

    So here’s my offering. I’m not a writer and it seems insufficient, but isn’t that kind of the point?

    I’m from the electric green landscape
    Rooted in red dirt soaked with daily rain.
    I’m from tall forests with deep sanctuaries
    And long mountain views enveloped in total silence.
    I’m from countless planes taking me too and fro
    Across oceans, borders, and cultures.
    I’m from a place I cannot own but owns me
    A place that has an eternal grip on my heart and mind.
    I’m from never being home more
    Than when I am with the family who wandered with me.

    I posted her poem with mine on my blog here: http://midlifetck.blogspot.com/2014/08/when-im-from-is-difficult-sentence-to.html

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    1. I love this Kris – and yes … the point is that words are insufficient I think, but you’ve done an amazing job of them. I’m thinking of doing a series called “I’m From” – I would love to use this…I would do a short interview and then post the poem. Thank you so much for writing this.

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      1. Marilyn, this post has really captured many, many people’s imaginations and touched countless hearts! I encourage you in writing that series “I’m From . . . ” I think it would be superb!

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      2. I’m so glad to hear you say this….the stories behind these words seem pretty amazing and it would be so fun. A chance to get to know others so much better. Thanks for the encouragement!

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  10. I’m from the long answer
    that brings back confused stares
    I’m from the short answer
    that never explains my heart
    I’m from the mixed words
    that bounce from language to language
    I’m from the cringe
    at the words settle down
    I’m from the rising ache
    in my heart to move onward
    I’m from the rising hope
    in my soul to find my home

    The assignment is creative but lacking, her response is really what made this beautiful. That touched my soul in a seriously immeasurable way.

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  11. I’m from the rolling hills
    Where the winter snow falls quietly.
    I’m from the white beaches
    Where the blue and green waves never stop.
    I’m from the land of mountains
    Where the green comes in so many shades.
    I’m from the place where I’m not from
    Where rocky hills pour waterfalls.
    I’m from a land I’ve never been to
    Where the living river flows forever.

    Like

  12. Great poem!

    I took your challenge and this is what I came up with:

    I’m from blue Caribbean waters,
    Sunshine, palm trees, and beaches

    I’m from Midwestern hot summers,
    Cold snowy winters, and crisp Autumn leaves

    I’m from mom’s house, dad’s house,
    Two houses, shuttling back and forth year after year

    I’m from not like my brothers’,
    Not like my step-siblings’, yet still somehow sharing that

    I’m from two childhoods, two realities,
    Split between two nations and cultures, yet only one of me

    Robin

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    1. this is so good – The juxtaposition of being between worlds, not only countries, but also parents is so well articulated. The last two lines I find so poignant Robin. What a picture you give in two lines of a split world. I may ask if I can use this in another post……

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      1. Thank you! Marilyn and Karin!

        The ripples continue, as I now have nephews and nieces from four countries, and there’s always a question from somebody about why they have brown skin (when I don’t),

        And of course you can use the poem Marilyn. :-)

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  13. As an educator who spent thirteen years teaching TCK’s, I am so sorry that the teacher did not understand. I now have two small children of my own and we continue as missionaries. I look forward to helping them understand who they are as TCKs.

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    1. I’m so glad you said this and that you get it! As I read it it brought back all kinds of bad memories of my kids entry into life in America and so many things like this happening. You can be doing great and then realize your kid is being misunderstood and it’s all over!

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  14. That is so beautiful and moving! Makes me want to write my own – maybe under the Greek sun, looking out over the Mediterranean – as I leave for a break in a couple of days’ time! I do like the teacher’s version as well, though. Maybe because my own childhood was rather ordinary (in a good way) and not cross-cultural – that part of my life didn’t start until I finished High School. Those verses seem to resonate with her own personal memories of what made her life, her childhood special. Who knows what stories those lines might signify to her! Just a shame she didn’t “get” Adelaide’s, it is so very special!

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    1. This sounds so perfect Bayta! Please write it! And actually I liked hers as well – my sorrow was that she didn’t ‘get’ Adelaide’s ….how hard can it be? yet we know, very hard.

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  15. I love it! It is beautiful, complicated and short! We use the “I am Green” poem in our TCK programs, but it is so long that it loses the attention of younger teens. Could I have Adelaide’s permission to use this poem in our curriculum?

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  16. absolutely beautiful… far better than a yellow kitchen and posies… what flowery nonsense is that! Going to give my boys this as their back to school assignment in a couple of weeks!

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  17. We are currently in the STATES and I took my daughter today to get her driving permit. I was asked if the address on my license was correct. Nope. Do you have your vehicle registration. Nope (don’t have a car here, borrowing one). Now we are back home to get some piece of mail with our current (temporary) address so she can get her license. :) On the way home, we had this exact discussion, where are we “from” ~ and then came across this blog. Perfect timing. <3

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    1. this is such a classic expat/TCK story. Thank you for sharing!! I remember years of having to explain this sort of stuff. Exhausting until you get to use it for a story – and then it’s funny. So glad you came by.

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