When I was in third grade at the International School of Beijing, I liked my friends, I liked eating lunch in the big cafeteria and I liked learning how to play a new sport, rugby, on the weekends. It felt like home.
One day my teacher introduced a new project. It was a research project on your home country. Each student was to tell what their home country was and give a presentation.
I felt confused. I was born in Texas, in the United States, but I live in Beijing, China. My mom says her grandmother was born in Germany, but lives in the US, and my dad says his grandfather was born in Ireland, but lived in France. "Home country, what’s that?" I wondered.
I called all of my grandparents and asked them what they thought their home country was. Each of them had a different answer. The more questions I asked, the more interested I became about how children who live in other countries grow up. I found out that most of my grandparents had relatives from Germany.
At school, when it was time to do the research project, my teacher asked, "Which country are you from?" Even though I was not born there, never lived there, and don’t have any living relatives there, I proudly answered, "Germany." I consider myself a person of the world and I thought I could just choose which country to belong to.
I loved doing this research project. I learned all about children growing up in Germany – how their language was different, their school holidays were different, even the geography of their land was different. I even learned about some German customs I wanted to try here at my present home in China. I liked the idea of a Schultuete. That’s a special cone shaped gift filled with new school supplies that parents give their child on the first day of school.
Maybe next time I’ll choose China as my new home country.
by Hunter Emigh (10) and his mother Cherie Emigh. Excerpt from Slurping Soup and Other Confusions.
Activity: Fact file
Discover where your home country is. Where do your relatives come from? Where do they live today? Interview friends and family who live there and search the Internet to fill in the fact file.
Activity: Home country box
Create your own home country box. Find a shoe box and cover it with pictures, photos, trinkets and information that you have discovered. Use each side of the box to represent a different aspect of your home country. You might include: sports, food, people culture, festivals or holidays.
Slurping Soup and Other Confusions
by Maryam Afnan Ahmad, Cherie Emigh, Ulrike Gemmer, Bárbara Menezes, Kathryn Tonges and Lucinda Willshire
A collection of 23 real-life stories from third-culture kids. Each story is followed by a related activity. For ages 3-12.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.slurpingsoup.com.