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Where do you feel like home? A few words about TCK.

Written by Skevi Laou

 

Where do you feel like home?

Did you know we are living in a world where 244 million people are TCK cases (Third Culture Kids)? Third Culture Kids are children who have spent a significant part of their formative years living outside of their parents’ country of origin. I believe that if you ask them where do they feel like home, you will be surprised by how different their answers will be. Is their parents place home, or is it the place where they grow up? Every person has a different perspective on it.

An example of a TCK case is my friend Katarzyna who lives in Cyprus right now with her family. She is from Rzeszów (which is ironic because I am living in her city right now and she is living to my city). She left Poland when she was 20 years old. She lived in the United Kingdom for 6 years with her mom and one year in Greece. Then she came to Cyprus for a summer job, and she met her Cypriot husband. So the word home started to change meaning for her.

Katarzyna has been living in Cyprus for the last 12 years and when I asked her if I put dom (house) in a equation, what is equal to that? And she told me dom=Cyprus. Her family (husband and 3 kids) is her home, but she will always feel that Poland is her hometown and every time she comes back she feels like home. In Cyprus she created a very nice family, she also learned Greek and the Cypriot dialect very quickly. So from my perspective she is a person who, because of all her past experiences, has the ability to fit into any kind of environment and that’s amazing.

On a TEDx talk, the writer Taiye Selasi speaks about “multi-local” people. They are people who feel at home in the town they grew up, the city they live in now and maybe another place or two.

“How can I come from a country?” she asks.

“How can a human being come from a concept?”

This is interesting, because most of us tend to relate home with the familiarity of an environment. And sometimes it is very tricky to separate emotions from comfort.

Abandoned church of St. Nicholas at Kouris Dam Alassa, Cyprus

 

Usually people who are away from their home often complain about being homesick, not housesick. So what they lack is not a roof over their heads, but an emotional warmth and security. Being away from home now, there are days when I miss my home and the images that pass through my head are of familiar people smiling at me, and I can feel their warm presence as they stand in front of me. So maybe when we talk about home, the question has to be connected to where our heart feels good? Home then could be a smell, a person or even a cozy cafe on a certain street that you love.

And finally, another important thing when we talk about home is language. I learned that home has a different meaning in every country. The heaviness of the word, let’s say, is not the same in every language. So for example in Spanish language you have the word  casa (house) and the word hogar (home). A girl I know (Elsa Daniels) who was born in Honduras to a British dad and a Honduran mum, explained to me that the Spanish word hogar has a much deeper meaning than the word home in English. To her, hogar is when you talk about a couple creating their own hogar, their own family. So when someone is talking about hogar, it is more about a group of people actively connecting with each other, and not the house that surrounds them. By using two languages in her everyday life, Elsa could definitely recognize a difference.

On the other hand, in the Greek language, the word house and home is the same word σπίτι (spiti). But I would like to add that the word home is sometimes used to denote ‘country’ or ‘homeland’ in which case the equivalent Greek word would be χώρα (hora) and πατρίδα (patrida). These two words also have very different meanings. Homeland has a very high value for people who are away from their home due to the fact that because of the country’s history, we unconsciously have the feeling that homeland is something that we lost in a war literally and metaphorically. For me, with my perspective as a Cypriot, when your homeland is divided into two parts and you are powerless to change anything, and you cannot even help to connect the broken parts or change people’s mindset, the word home has a deeper meaning and the fear of losing your home becomes a new concept which is projected into every situation. So for me, every time I feel this absence, I find something else that makes me feel like home, and unconsciously I build new temporary homes. But as the ancient Greeks used to say Ουδέν μονιμότερο του προσωρινού (There is nothing more permanent than the temporary), so maybe when I leave Poland I will call Rzeszow home? Who knows?

A balloon outside my house at Limassol, Cyprus.

To end this article I want to share with you a poem that I always remember when I have thoughts in my head about moving to the next country in order to escape from where I am. It was written in Greek by Constantine P. Cavafy. The poem’s name is Η πόλις which means city.

 

This is a part of the poem:

 Η πόλις θα σε ακολουθεί.

Στους δρόμους θα γυρνάς τους ίδιους.

Και στες γειτονιές τες ίδιες θα γερνάς·

και μες στα ίδια σπίτια αυτά θ’ ασπρίζεις.

 

This city will keep following you.

You will wander in the same streets.

And you will get older in the same neighborhood,

You will turn gray among the same houses.

 

Cavafy’s believes that the city will follow you whenever you go. You can’t escape from your own thoughts. So if you see it from his perspective the word home is always inside you, and if you want to change the circumstances then it is better to start by changing yourself first.