Monday, November 28, 2016

Share Your Story

The room was full of people chatting and laughing, checking their phones and searching for people they knew. And I sat there quietly listening. Here was a room full of people who were dedicated to people like me.

It's a strange thing to sit and listen to people talk about you without realizing they are talking about you. But that is what I did all this last week. I went to an entire week dedicated to educating kids at international schools, meaning educating international kids which often means TCKs (with the good ol' CCK, Cross Culture Kid, mixed in). So on the one hand, I was listening to ways that I could do my job better, talking and interacting and teaching TCKs, but on the other hand, I was listening to people talk about me. I was listening to people talk about how to best deal with that strong-willed child (me). I was listening to people talk about the issues that come up with international kids (me). I was listening to stories of adjustments and problems in schools (just like mine). It was strange.

High School Maia. Not much has changed.
At one point I was sitting at a table with several other people who work in the international education world and we were asked to answer the question of whether our job was a career or a calling. Was this our job or our heart? We ran out of time so I didn't get to answer and, honestly, I was a little bit relieved. As I sat and waited for my turn I began to realize that this isn't just my career, this isn't just my calling, this is my life. My life is international school. My life is international kid. I have and am living those things they were talking about and theorizing about.

And as I sat in that room full of people I knew that there were several other people with whom, the thing that they are doing isn't their career or their calling, it is their life. A TCK stood up to talk about how international schooling prepared him for the world and he thanked all those people who were dedicated to shaping people like him and my eyes teared up. I glanced over to another TCK I know and his eyes were teared up too. Because while the people sitting next to me were there and dedicated to TCKs, there were some of us in that room that were the TCKs.

I've always intended this blog, this space, to be the start of a conversation. The hope being that a TCK will read here words that speak to a part of them that may have been silenced or may have been forgotten or may have just felt too different, and suddenly awaken a very important part of who they are and validate that in them. The other hope being that the nonTCK will read this and begin to ask themselves if the TCKs around them see the world the same way and maybe venture out to ask the TCK about their life, about their worldview, about who they really are.

I once talked to someone that told me that I was the first TCK they had ever met and I told them that I didn't think it was true. There are TCKs everywhere. You might not realize that's what they are (we are pretty good at blending in when we want to). There are some people who might not want to admit that that is what they are (a lot of TCKs work hard to be "normal"). But whether you know it, or they admit it, or not, it is a part of their story. It has shaped them and how they think.

And honestly, I think that was the best part of the conference I was at. Over and over I got to hear TCKs tell how international education shaped their story, which means I got to hear the TCK's story told over and over. I got to tell my story over and over, maybe not in completion but definitely in meaningful ways. And there is something so important and special about TCKs sharing their stories with other TCKs and having those nods of understanding and smiles of shared experience. It is a rare thing to have someone know that part of you.

So let this be the start of a conversation. Share your story. Share your heart. Ask someone else for their story. Listen to their heart. You don't know how much it might mean to them.

What is your story?