Graduation Gifts for Your TCK

graduation

Every where I look I see graduations. Cambridge and Boston are alive with the activity and color of students who have finished their college or graduate school education. From the bright red gowns of Boston University to the maroon gowns of Harvard, you can’t escape this season. And neither can your third culture kid who may be far away from the landscape of Harvard and Cambridge.

You have watched this young one grow from doing the toddler waddle to confidently crossing the globe alone. And now they are graduating. They are leaving the tight expat or missionary community that has loved them well and they are moving on to college and another life. What do you get them? How do you express what you feel as you say goodbye? Besides writing them a note – which is the best idea possible – here are some tangible gifts for your TCK.

Journals 

Books

  • Finding Home – a set of essays in an e-book compiled by writer Rachel Pieh Jones. These are written by either third culture kids or their parents and address a number of areas that are pertinent to the TCK.
  • The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton, This is a delightful read that looks at the “pleasure of anticipation, allure of the exotic, and the value of noticing everything!”
  • Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging – this was my first book, and I really do believe it will resonate with many TCKs. If it doesn’t, I promise you your money back!
  • Worlds Apart: A Third Culture Kid’s Journey – my second book and personal story. I’ve included a quote at the end of this post from the book! “We left behind our entire lives the night of graduation. We said goodbye to all we knew.”
  • Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing up Overseas in the 21st Century by Tanya Crossman – Tanya’s book is an excellent read and must have on your TCKs book shelf. Through interviews with over 250 third culture kids she gathers themes and thoughts on belonging, transition, home, and more.
  • Third Culture Kids 3rd Edition: Growing up Among Worlds  by Ruth Van Reken et al. In this 3rd Edition emphasis is on the modern TCK and addressing the impact of technology, cultural complexity, diversity & inclusion and transitions.
  • The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition by Tina Quick. This is a guide book to help TCKs understand what takes place in re-entry and/or transition and gives them the tools and strategies they need to not only survive but to thrive in the adjustment. This is the first book written to and for students who have been living outside their “passport” countries but are either returning “home” or transitioning on to another host country for college/university. It addresses the common issues students face when they are making the double transition of not only adjusting to a new life stage but to a cultural change as well.
  • Stuff Every Graduate Should Know by Alyssa Favreau. This is not TCK specific, but looks like a great guide to have on hand for life beyond high school.

I am a Triangle Merchandise – The I am a Triangle community is an amazing community of folks from all over the world. It was founded by Naomi Hathaway who has become a dear friend. The I am a Triangle Swag Shop is great for gifts for the global nomad. Mugs, T-shirts, Bags, and Multilingual Hoodies are just a few of the great gifts available.

Phone Charging Passport Holder – I love this! From the command “Just Go!” to the practicality of having the phone charger, this is a great gift for the one who has traveled the world and may worry they will feel stuck.

Plane Ticket or Airline Gift Card – Sounds expensive right? It is and you probably can’t do it, but even for a domestic flight, that TCK will welcome the chance to get on a plane and fly to visit a friend.

Gift Card or Assortment of Gift Cards  –  Target, Forever 21, H & M, Primark, or Amazon. Personalize them by putting each one into a separate envelope using the labels – Dorm, Clothes, Miscellaneous Stuff, Books, Fun.

Visa or American Express Gift Card – I prefer American Express as there is no expiration date and they are amazing at reimbursing lost cards. The trick is to register them, so take that extra step and register the card for them. That way they won’t have to keep track of it.

Map of the World – With gift-ready packaging, this scratch-off map gives a concrete visual for the TCK to remember their previous journeys and look forward to more. Available here and here

Money, Money, Money – I had no idea how much I would need money. As cards were stuffed into my hand in the midst of tearful hugs I didn’t know how life-saving the gifts of cash would be. I still remember a few months later when strapped for cash I pulled out an envelope, and opened it with a grateful “God bless Auntie Connie for this money!”


Exerpt from Worlds Apart: A Third Culture Kid’s Journey

Graduation Night: 

The magnitude of what I was leaving was not completely lost to me that night. Even in the midst of the goodbyes, I felt my throat catch. But as I look back I am overwhelmed by it. We left behind our entire lives the night of graduation. We said goodbye to all we knew. For the rest of our lives we would struggle to answer the question, “Where are you from?” We would rage at those who attacked our adopted country, even as we raged at Pakistan herself. Some of us would be accused of crying “every time a cow died in Pakistan.” Others stoically moved forward, silent about the impact of being raised in another world.

As for me, I went back that night to the cottage where we had set up our home for the past few weeks of summer. Suitcases and bags sat on beds and chairs throughout the cottage. It was beginning to echo with the empty place we would leave behind, and it smelled musty and damp, the effects of monsoon season already begun. Crying had to wait, there was still packing to do. But how do you pack up a life? I stayed up to gather the remainder of my possessions, putting them into an old green suitcase, and finally fell asleep to the sounds of monsoon rain on the tin roof.

The next day I would leave Pakistan and never sleep in this house again, never walk up the hill to catch the school bus. The final chapter of life as a child in Pakistan had ended. I was the baby turtle, making its way slowly to the sea. No one could do it for me. In order to survive and thrive, I had to do it by myself.

About a Book….aka Kill Those Darlings!

Worlds apart promo

Some of you may remember a big announcement last year. It was about a book. A book that I was so excited about. I talked about it on the blog and on social media sites. I had a book reading and signing. But something just wasn’t right.

That book, that precious book where I let my childhood memories in all their vulnerability out into the world, did not sell. Meanwhile, my previous book kept on selling.

I couldn’t figure it out. It was so defeating and so depressing. I had been writing that book for eight years. What happened? Why was it so poorly received? I didn’t talk to anyone about it, because when you love writing and you want people to receive your words….well you don’t talk about the hard stuff.

Right after the book came out I had major surgery. While I had hoped to spend my recuperating days writing, instead I ended up just healing. It was the hardest and most humbling work I’ve ever done, and it was a fulltime job. Soon after that, I realized that my dad was entering into his final illness. I needed to spend as much time as I was able with my mom and dad, which is never enough time. He died in October, and soon after that, some of the stuff you never talk about on a blog happened.

And the book got lost in all of the stuff that was happening. But I would still think about this book. Why on earth did I write it? What did I expect? Dear friends from Pakistan were writing me regularly telling me they would never read the book. It was just too hard for them. So what was it for anyway?

I realized I hadn’t written it for them. I had written it for a far more general audience, but the book didn’t reflect that. I also realized some things about writing. Just as an artist puts their heart and soul into their art, we who write put our heart and soul into our words. We craft and recraft sentences. We look for meaning behind things that happen to us and we invite others into those events, hoping they too will find meaning. As Joan Didion says: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live….We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices….” 

Writing helped me to understand more about how important stories are to our understanding of others and ourselves. I thought more specifically about the third culture kid’s journey, the stories behind the arrivals and departures, the narrative that captured the sweetness of hello and the bitterness of goodbye.*

In the middle of all these life events, I did a book reading.  It was there that one of my friends asked me about the title. She said it so graciously, but I took the words to heart. “What about the title?” she asked. “Why did you choose to call it that?”

My friend is Israeli and Jewish – in other words, we come from different countries and different faiths, but she loved the book. Her words took root in my heart.

It was in early winter that Doorlight Publications reached out to me. They wanted to reprint the book. It wasn’t selling well. What did I think about retitling the book and adding a foreword as well as a section that would take the reader from reading about my story to writing about their own journey?

There is a phrase in the writing world that talks about killing your darlings. In other words, the things that you hold onto the most in writing sometimes need to be killed off, taken out, severed from the body of the book.

The title was my darling. I so wanted ‘Pakistan’ to be in the title. And it seemed to make sense that I would put faith in it. But it narrowed the focus of the book too much. The book was my journey through my developmental years in Pakistan and included so much more than Pakistan and faith. Would I be willing to kill my darling?

I would, and I did.

Just last week the book was re-released under the title Worlds Apart: A Third Culture Kid’s Journey. I love it. I love the cover. I love the foreword by Rachel Pieh Jones, who is writing her own book to be released in 2019 by Plough Publishing. I love the ‘Mapping Your TCK Journey’ at the end, followed by book resources.

And I’m excited for this new start. You don’t always get another chance with a book, but I did with this one.

So would you give it a chance? Would you consider buying the book? I would love it if you did!

I would love to have you purchase the book! It’s on sale through Amazon and available wherever books are sold.

*Page 184 Worlds Apart: A Third Culture Kid’s Journey


barnes and noble

amazon logo

books a million


Passages Through Pakistan – Film & Reviews

The train rounds a bend.
The rest of the cars appear one by one,
all tied to one another
far into the distance.
It comes as a surprise to be tied to things so far back

Human Landscapes from My Country

by Nazım Hikmet

____________________________________________________

passages-cover

As many of you know, Passages Through Pakistan: An American Girl’s Journey of Faith was released in early March.

Below is a short video about the book with some amazing pictures of Pakistan taken by a couple of friends, as well as me. Enjoy!

 

Passages Through Pakistan from Marilyn Gardner on Vimeo.

Advance Praise for Passages Through Pakistan
“Passages Through Pakistan tells the captivating story of Marilyn Gardner’s childhood as a ‘third-culture kid’, raised by her Christian, American missionary parents in the heart of Pakistan. Gardner’s eloquent story of the trials, tribulations, and lessons of growing up as a bridge between these rich cultures serves as an important lens through which Americans and Pakistanis can learn more about one another and their important long-term partnership in a time when the gap between the two nations seems to be growing ever larger. By shedding light on how our faiths, our cultures, and our worlds are far more alike than different, Gardner’s story is a must read for those wanting to build bridges.”Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University,Washington, DC
*********

Marilyn demonstrates sensitivity and understanding toward an often misunderstood part of the world…

“Marilyn Gardner’s Passages Through Pakistan is a wonderful book, presenting in both a descriptive and reflective way the wonder of her childhood that took place in the mountains of northern Pakistan, the villages and deserts of southern Pakistan and the small towns of New England, along with some of the places in between.
As the only daughter in a remarkable family that included four brothers, Marilyn emerges as a sensitive observer with an impressive eye for detail as well as a well developed memory for the small anecdote that often reveals a much larger meaning.

Part spiritual reflection, part childhood reminiscence and part travelogue, Marilyn’s book will be especially welcomed by those trying to make sense of their own personal stories, especially if they involve transitions across multiple cultures and geographic locations.

A deeply moving observer of the places, people and events that have surrounded her, she demonstrates sensitivity and understanding toward an often misunderstood part of the world, presenting the sights, sounds, landscapes and peoples of Pakistan in ways that are largely absent in both newspaper headlines and superficial social media accounts that all too often know little and understand even less.

Americans growing up in Asia and Asians growing up in America will especially gravitate toward this account, capturing as it does the complexity as well as the wonder and astonishment of childhoods spent in unlikely places. It will also resonate strongly with missionary kids and third culture kids everywhere.” – Jonathan Addleton, former US Ambassador to Mongolia, is the author of several books including The Dust of Kandahar:

A Diplomat Among Warriors in Afghanistan and Some Far and Distant Place

Passages Through Pakistan is available at the following locations:

Small Things for the Kingdom

“Long ago, it seemed, I had been ruined for the ordinary.” 

It was six years ago that I had the opportunity to go to Pakistan, place of my childhood and land that I love, to work with displaced people. Massive floods had uprooted millions of people and Pakistan was feeling the after effects. Villages sat empty, every house unliveable because of water damage that had reached high on the walls. IDP* camps were full of people who already had so little – now they had lost the little they had.

Something happened to my heart the day that I saw a picture of Jacobabad, a place of one of my childhood homes, on the front page of the NY Times completely flooded. More than anything in the world, I wanted to go to Pakistan. I wanted to go help.

For many, this would seem brave. The Taliban had just attacked 36 trucks filled with fuel on the outskirts of Shikarpur – the place where I was headed. Pakistan was constantly front page news, not for anything good. For me, this wasn’t about bravery. It was about longing. It was about place. It was about home. It was about getting away from the “ordinary” that had become my life. 

In the words of Danielle Mayfield, author of the new book Assimilate or Go Home, “long ago…I had been ruined for the ordinary” 

Those two weeks in Pakistan were weeks that I will never forget. What we did was small in the big scheme of things. But the trip set in motion a longheld desire to work with refugees and displaced people. I found that this desire was bigger than place, (although to begin this work in a place I considered home was wonderful.) The desire was bigger than me.

I came back to the United States and no one wanted to know about my trip. Not a single person asked about Pakistan. I was a package of defeat, humiliation, and dysentery. Here was a place and a work I cared about – and it didn’t matter to my current, every day reality. It didn’t matter to the ordinary.

In retrospect, I wonder why I expected it to matter – that in itself was unreasonable. But beyond that was what was happening in my own heart.

Suddenly, it didn’t feel enough to be where I was. I wanted to be somewhere else. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted my life to count.

I wish D.L. Mayfield’s book had been available at that time. Six years later, I had the privilege or reading this book and as I read, I found a kindred spirit.

On the surface, Mayfield’s journey has stark contrasts to mine. But just below the surface, there are many similarities. She grew up as a nomad in her own country – the United States. Moving from place to place, she learned early what it is to be uprooted, what it is to start over. Mayfield also knows what it is to not really know the meaning of ‘home.’  She brings this into her journey of living side by side with refugees, learning the rhythms that define their lives in a new place, and through this, learning more about what it is to really understand that God loves you.

Those rhythms –anticipation, reality, depression, acceptance — are the way she tells her story. She writes “The resettlement cycle is a loose, fluid look at how so many in our world are being asked to envision and forge new lives for themselves, and what a rocky journey it can be……There was and is something to the emotional arc that connected with me, the process of leaving the safety and security  of my background and religion and being launched into the wilder territory of discovering the kingdom of God.” 

Mayfield’s journey is initally about wanting to do big things and go faraway places. As she sees the world dropped into her neighborhood in the form of refugees, she realizes that the kingdom of God is not about doing big things. It’s not about going exotic places. It’s not about major conversions. The kingdom of God is about his love for our world, and us showing up to reflect that love; a love that turns everything upside down. 

The book is about refugees, about communities that could not be more different than white America, about finding God in the margins and the broken. But mostly, it’s about learning how much God loves you; how much he loves me. How much he loves each one of us, not for what we do, but for who we are.

Slowly, I found myself relaxing and resting in the love that D.L. Mayfield discovered, and then with surprise, I realized I could relax and rest in that same love for myself.

After my trip to Pakistan, I desperately wanted my world to change. I desperately wanted to make a splashy difference. But that didn’t happen. Instead, slowly by slowly I’m learning to function out of love of God, right where I am, in the ordinary of life.

It’s only as we discover God’s love for us that we truly have what it takes to embrace our broken world. It is only through understanding the deep love of God that we are equipped to do small things for the kingdom. 

assimilate or go homeNote: For more information and to order Assimilate or Go Home, take a look here. The book is available wherever books are sold!

*IDP – Internally Displaced People

What’s On Your Bookshelf?

Books with quote

Two years ago, I asked this question…but Communicating Across Boundaries has grown exponentially since then, so I’m asking it again.

The task is simple but oh so hard! Pick three books on your bookshelf that summarize you. What three books give us a snapshot of your life?

This was introduced by National Public Radio’s ‘All Things Considered‘ show a couple of years ago and I loved it so much I want to use it here at Communicating Across Boundaries. Anyone who responds in the comments will be put into a drawing to receive one of the books that is a snapshot of my life.

So let’s get started! My three are:

1. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo. Katherine Boo takes us into the stories of real people living in the Annawadi slum in Mumbai. The slum shares walls with the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. This ethnically diverse community lives in close quarters, daily confronting poverty, violence, conflict, illness, and government corruption. Because I love the Indian subcontinent this book resonates at many levels.

Quote: “.. becoming attached to a country involves pressing, uncomfortable questions about justice and opportunity for its least powerful citizens.” 

2.The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: A Jewish Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World by Lucette Lagnado. This book is my heart book and chronicles the journey of a Jewish family from their home in Cairo through their adjustment to life in New York City. There is so much I love about this book, not least is its descriptions of how much this family misses Cairo and their cry of “Ragaouna Misr” (Take me back to Egypt!) that still echoes through my soul.

Quote: “We had barely drifted out of Alexandria‘s harbor when I heard my father cry ‘Ragaouna Misr!’ – Take us back to Cairo! It became his personal refrain, his anthem aboard the old cargo ship…”

3. Some Far and Distant Place by Jonathan S. Addleton. Jonathan is a childhood friend, best friend to my brother Tom through the years. He writes of growing up in Pakistan but intersperses throughout the book history of what is happening in the region – things I caught only partially while growing up. I love this book and periodically reread it. This book is home.

Quote: “…’Look carefully’ my brother said. ‘It will be a long time before you see stars shining this brightly again….'”

So now you – Three books from your bookshelf (or Kindle) that give us a snapshot of your life!  Include quotes if you can! 

 Photo Credit from http://pixabay.com/ photo art by Marilyn R. Gardner

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Harry Potter as TCK Lit

In July of 2014, two of my kids challenged me to read the entire Harry Potter series. Although we were first in line to get the books through the years and my children dressed up for the movies, hitting the midnight opening shows more than once, I had (shamefully) not read them.

So I took the challenge, and six months later on New Year’s Day I read the last sentence “All was well” and, realizing I had finished, I burst into tears. I had fallen in love with Harry Potter and all the people in his world.

It wasn’t until later that I realized how much Harry Potter’s world resembled the world of the third culture kid. Harry Potter lived between, learning to negotiate the Muggle world, even as his life in the wizard world was not perfect. Harry Potter’s best friends were like TCK best friends, who stick with you through the years, even though you go through times of not speaking or hating each other. Harry Potter knew he was ‘other’ when he was with his relatives, the ghastly Dursley family. The first sentence in the book is a perfect description of this Muggle family:  “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

Through all seven books, Harry’s adventures are relatable to the kid who has lived on three continents and knows several different languages. He even speaks Parseltongue, making him a bilingual hero.

But it was this paragraph that convinced me that Harry Potter was a third culture kid: “Harry kicked off hard from the ground. The cool night air rushed through his hair as the neat square gardens of Privet Drive fell away, shrinking rapidly into a patchwork of dark greens and blacks, and every thought of the Ministry hearing was swept from his mind as though the rush of air had blown it out of his head. He felt as though his heart was going to explode with pleasure; he was flying again, flying away from Privet Drive as he’d been fantasising about all summer, he was going home… for a few glorious moments, all his problems seemed to recede to nothing, insignificant in the vast, starry sky.” [Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, pp 54-56.]

So call me crazy, but this series will definitely be in my resource list for TCK lit. For the thousandth time, I thank JK Rowling for regifting the gift of imagination.

I’ve included some of my favorite quotes in today’s post. Enjoy, and, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, feel free to add your own.

On Adventure:

Adventure HP quote

On Dreams: 

HP Quote version 2

On being a stranger in our passport countries: 

Snape quote

On Being Yourself:

Luna Lovegood 2

On third culture kid connections:

hearts beat as one

 

Winners for Meditations Coloring Book!

Last week I announced a giveaway on Communicating Across Boundaries. The giveaway was for a beautiful coloring book, hand-drawn by the talented Lorien Atwood. The rules were simple: Just leave a comment on the blog post.

Today, I’m happy to announce that the two winners are:

Abigail and Karlyn!

Here is the program that I used to pick a name: Random Name Picker

I’ll be contacting both of you to get addresses and make sure you get your gift as soon as possible. Thanks to all of you for reading Communicating Across Boundaries!

For the rest of you, take a look at Coloring in Truth and order your copy today! 

And remember: Creativity is intelligence having fun! 

creativity quote.jpg