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MAPPING THE HYBRID LIFE: Abandoning the map in order to live more fully… highlights from our Dialogue2010 roundtable discussion.
Moderator ROSE DENIZ: With me today are nine cultural innovators, writing, thinking and creating artwork and asking questions about this very subject in the work they do, across five different countries and multiple ethnicities. (See bios of the inaugural participants.)
Let’s start by describing the three characteristics one needs to lead a hybrid lifestyle. We can form a mobile definition that applies to all of us.
Open-mindedness, flexibility, and being non-judgmental. — Karen Armstrong Quartarone
HYBRIDS OF CHOICE VS HYBRIDS OF CIRCUMSTANCE: Flexibility, curiosity to the extreme and patience. I’ve chosen my identity as a hybrid. As an expat I’ve chosen where to live whereas my husband is more divided as a Third Culture Kid. We’re both hybrids but in a different way. — Catherine Salter Bayar
PREDISPOSITION, COURAGE, DETERMINATION: My mom worked for the UN. Part of our life was just moving around. Once I hit my five-year mark, I’m ready to go somewhere else even though I hate moving and really don’t like traveling anymore. Trying to figure out if I really want to move or is it just because I’ve always moved? The second is courage. It takes a lot to decide that I don’t want to live like that — I want to live like this, even if it’s difficult. Third is determination. Once you put your mind to living a life that’s different, you have to stick to your guns. — Sezin Koehler
COURAGE, ADVENTUROUSNESS, CREATIVITY: I was a shy kid, didn’t want to leave the house — ever. I cried when I went to camp for a week. To end up spending a good chunk of my 20’s in a foreign country was a huge leap for me. Being adventurous and having that willingness to take a risk. It’s a real risk to place yourself in foreign locations. Being creative. You have to think differently to understand what your place is in the world and who you are, especially when it’s different from what you know. — Jocelyn Eikenburg
COMPASSION, EMPATHY, AND BEING MODERATE: I grew up as the daughter of immigrants in the United States, forced into a hybrid lifestyle by that very nature. I was the only kid in kindergarten who was happy to be there on the first day. I didn’t understand why everybody was crying, this was the greatest thing in the world. It takes a lot to empathize with both cultures to look at what the good and the bad is. Being moderate and understanding both sides. — Elmira Bayraslı
SENSE OF SELF, BUOYANCY: Besides compassion for the basic differences between us, a well-developed understanding of who you are is the most valuable expatriate possession. You can easily get knocked off your expectations and need to know how to get back to who you are. Then, buoyancy. Being able to go with the flow but not get lost in it, to be anchored deep below the surface of your changing options. — Anastasia Ashman
COMMUNICATION NOT ONLY WITH THOSE AROUND YOU, BUT WITHIN YOURSELF: Flexibility is my first characteristic, the second one is to have a strong core so that you know who you are and you can work from that and build from that. Communication. You have to be able to talk not only with other people around you but also within yourself so that you don’t end up with a split personality. — Catherine Yiğit
BEING OPEN TO ANYTHING YOU’RE GOING TO ENCOUNTER: And will, and commitment. If I hadn’t been committed to living this hybrid life with my Turkish husband, I don’t think I could have stayed in Turkey. As much as I love it and as much as I enjoy who I’ve become in Turkey, I don’t think if I could have withstood all of the difficulties in the first few years of our marriage. — Tara Lutman Ağacayak
COSMOPOLITAN URGE, ADAPTABILITY, SELF-AWARENESS: I grew up without other children around so I was really happy to go to kindergarten and make contact. As a cosmopolitan expat hybrid, you need a sense of humor, to catch yourself when you stumble. I think having a smile is a great help when you don’t know what else to do. Adaptability and self-awareness, knowing what it is that you bring to the table. — Judith van Praag
BALANCE, FLEXIBILITY, CHALLENGING MY OWN BOUNDARIES: Being able to manage the various conflicting feelings that happen, being flexible when I encounter things I don’t understand. I need some time before I’m able to fully comprehend something or make a decision. Needing to challenge my own personal boundaries. It’s an internal thing: the more open I get, the more I am able to adapt. — Rose Deniz
Question for expat+HAREM community: What characteristics would you add, and why?
Other highlights from Dialogue2010: Mapping the hybrid life
Answers to Rose’s question WHAT DO YOU LEAVE BEHIND TO LIVE MORE FULLY?
Answers to Rose’s question WHAT HAVE YOU HELD ONTO TO LIVE AN EXPANSIVE LIFE?
Answers to Rose’s question HOW DO YOU DEFINE A HYBRID LIFESTYLE?
Coming soon: Answers to Rose’s question HOW HAS YOUR WORLDVIEW SHIFTED DUE TO LOCATION?