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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I am a global nomad

I was excited to read some stories by other "global nomads" today (thank you Nancy for the link). Global nomads have been brought up and lived in more than one culture - they are not people who have just gone to another country to work. In contrast I think many people in Portugal think of working abroad but always with the idea of returning "home". That is not a global nomad.

My pulse rate goes up when someone asks me "Did you go back to your terra this summer?" or when they say "Well, you British ... " or introduce me as "This is Beverly, she's Inglêsa" and I ican't always put my finger on why. So I appreciated Debra Carlson's explanation in WorldWeave. She writes:

"I think global nomads who don't like to be introduced by citizenship don't like it for two reasons. First, it doesn't adequately describe us. It renders invisible the multiplicity of our experience. It ignores the fact that who we are was shaped through exposure to more than one national culture and by the experience of international mobility.

"Second, it renders invisible the work we have done to develop a strong sense of identity as cultural marginals. Many of us first experienced our marginality in a significant way upon re-entry to our passport countries. We typically experienced it as something painful and encapsulating. It has taken hard work (even if only that of getting older and, we hope, wiser) to change our experience of marginality to one that is constructive."

And her reaction to the question "Where are you from?" is exactly mine.

"When I meet people and they ask me casually, "So, where are you from?" I always determine what level answer I want to share. There's the short story -- "Seattle." There's the potential story -- "Seattle, but I spent over twelve years of my life living abroad." And finally there's the all out response -- "I call Seattle home now, but I lived in Japan for ten years, Germany two years and spent a year and a half in the United Kingdom. I consider myself to be different parts of all these places and people." The struggle in answering the question "Where are you from?" is a common experience, and you don't want to waste time and breath on someone who doesn't really care." (my italics)

So if you ask me where I am from, you will always notice the pause as I try to discern which answer it is that you want.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Mónica André said...

My empaty, Bev ;-)

... i've spent 2 years in Africa, 11 years in Southeast China, 1 year in Poland, and although i'm supposed to be Portuguese i get a sense of being alien among the one's i should identify with (... and because i wanted to know more about it, i ended up doing my previous research in expatriation cycle and information needs :-)

Hope to see you tomorrow in Covilhã,
Mónica

10/13/2005 03:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anton said...

Hmm, why did I decide to check Your blog exactly today? Because I had a feeling of important answer for my question? Odd though...

10/13/2005 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger bev trayner said...

Anton ... I also thought of you when I read about global Nomads! And where are you now?

10/13/2005 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/03/2005 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger Iza Firewall said...

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8/24/2007 10:43:00 PM  

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