Readers – I am again linking you to Djibouti Jones and a continuation of the series “Our Tribal Elders” by Paul Asbury Seaman, begun last week. My hope is that whether you are a third culture kid, a cross cultural person, or someone who loves the world (so I’ve basically covered everyone who reads Communicating Across Boundaries!) you will find something in this series that you can relate to!
Heart… Ruth Van Reken (b. 1945) Our deepest, most satisfying connection to others—as well as to places, things, even ideas—comes from the heart. This is where we hold our most cherished beliefs and sense of self, and it is the heart that tells us we are home when we find what we have been yearning for. The first quadrant of the medicine wheel is the East, the direction of the rising sun, of new beginnings, and family. This is where we experience our emotions and our most vulnerable moments. It is here, in the heart, that we feel the ache of displacement and it is through the heart that we redeem our sense of belonging.
Ruth Van Reken’s credentials as a spokesperson for TCKs are partly genetic. She comes second in four consecutive generations of third culture kids. At one point when she was a little girl, her family (including her parents and older sister) consisted of four people born on four different continents. In her adult life, her husband’s career as a doctor included time in the Navy and several years with an interdenominational mission board; in Liberia he was assigned to the main government hospital, sponsored by USAID; in Kenya he worked as a professor for the medical school of Moi University in Eldoret. This gave Ruth experience in four of the major categories of sponsoring agencies from which TCKs come: military, religious missions, government, and education (the others being corporate and nonprofit).
Her grandfather was a missionary doctor who set up a Presbyterian hospital in Resht, Iran—then known as Persia. Her father was born there, became a missionary himself, and took the family to Africa for the first time in 1944. (The ship on which they crossed the Atlantic was sunk by German planes on its return voyage to New York.) Ruth was born in Kano, Nigeria and, not counting two home-leave “furloughs,” lived there until she was thirteen. Four more of her siblings were born in Nigeria where her parents worked for a total of thirty-four years. During high school Ruth lived with her grandmother and aunt in Chicago. She did not see her parents once in four years.
Read the rest of the piece here at Djibouti Jones.
Intimacy is the greatest expression of feeling at home. Learning to embrace the whole of our past (whether or not we ever get it all untangled) is part of our wholeness as human beings—and as a culture.*
*Paul Asbury Seaman in Our Tribal Elders – The Heart of Ruth Van Reken
Photo Credit – http://pixabay.com/en/bleeding-heart-flowers-garden-538323/ with word art by Marilyn R. Gardner.