Sometimes Facebook threatens my sanity. When I click on my profile page a little blue box with a world map tells me to, “Add your hometown to stay in touch with friends from home.” I’d love to. I really would, but I don’t really know where I’m from.
I suppose that is the ever present dilemma for missionary kids (MKs), military kids, or anyone else lumped into the third culture kids category. We don’t really know where we’re from. I stalked some of my MK friends to see what they put as their hometown. Some put the town they live in now, others put the town where they lived the longest as a child, many others just left it blank.
The oh so popular “where are you from” questions usually leaves me stammering some vague response as I try to determine if the person who asked (what they thought was a simple question) really wants to hear about the three countries I’ve lived in or if I should go with the simple solution of responding with the name of the town where I currently reside. This presents a problem when people from the town I live in now ask me the question knowing that I didn’t go to kindergarten with their grandchildren.
Where am I from? I don’t know; pick a place. I’ve move 13 times. I’d like to say Rethy, Zaire. Although Zaire is no longer a country. It is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Facebook doesn’t seem to recognize Rethy as a legitimate place it be from. So I leave my hometown blank. But, can I really claim Rethy even if Facebook did recognize it? I left when I was almost nine. My Swahili has gotten very rusty, and my blue passport clearly says American.
I don’t mind being a confused MK. My first airplane ride was well before I turned a year old. I’ve gotten to see things that some people only read about or see on TV. I have friends from six different continents (sadly no one from Antarctica yet), and I’ve gotten to eat some amazing food and meet some incredible people. Would I trade it—not for a second, but I would like to know where home is. If you are an MK, how do you answer the where are you from question? What makes you feel at home? For me it is chai, being on an airplane, or wearing a Kikwembi. If you’re not an MK and you ask someone where they are from would you suggest they give you the long answer or the short one at first and then a longer one later? I had someone tell me that MKs can be hard to get to know. If you feel this is the case, I apologize. We DO want to get to know you it’s just that sometimes we have trouble just figuring out who we are. Please don’t give up on us.
Self Portrait: The African Side