Stranger in your own land: when globalization is a survival tactic

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in career,community,global niche,identity,multicultural,origin,self-image

mosaic tile designed by CS Bayar

By CATHERINE SALTER BAYAR

I decided to move to Turkey a decade ago and have been able to retain what resonates about my California upbringing and global travels — while adopting the cultural mix of our small Aegean town.

Although my dual life can leave me feeling like a culture-shocked newcomer, I’m an identity adventurer by choice.

My husband’s conflicted identity has been thrust upon him. Being an ethnic Kurd with Turkish nationality, he’s like a Third Culture Kid. A blend, spending part of his developmental years away from his parents’ culture.  But unlike a TCK, he did not have to leave the country of his birth to mix his way of life.

As a 13-year-old boy in the early ‘80’s, his family sent him to live with a cousin in Western Turkey to escape blood feuds and civil war in his native southeast.  He spoke only Kurdish, and decided learning English to work in tourism would benefit his future more than Turkish would. Globalization became his means of survival in a ‘foreign’ land that grapples with assimilation issues and only recently began public dialogue about what it means to be a Turk.

I can comfortably be an American living in Turkey. But he is not always comfortable being a Kurd and a Turk — though he is both. I’ve been told it’s impossible for someone from such a young country to understand how deep ethnic divides can go, but I equate his experience with Native American tribes who struggle to hold on to culture and language in a land where they’ve lived for millennia.

My husband’s Utopian solution is to call us “citizens of the world”.  He named our waterpipe bar ‘Mozaik’ to reflect the cultural mix of locals and visitors that crossed its threshold.

When and why do you feel like a stranger in your own land?
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California native Catherine Salter Bayar creates knitwear, seeks textile treasure, lives near the splendid ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus, and writes about it all in her upcoming book, Weaving Our Way Home.
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  • http://www.englishclass.com.tw/englishphonics/ 線上英文發音

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  • http://bazaarbayar.blogspot.com/ Catherine Bayar

    Mary Wiltenburg has a compelling take on strangers in a new land on This American Life, the hour-long program that for many years has created unique and thought-provoking content. The middle segment this week, her “Fleeing is Believing” looks at the US through the eyes of new immigrants, including commentary by two Iraqi men that I find particularly heart-wrenching.

  • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

    Mary Wiltenburg has a compelling take on strangers in a new land on This American Life, the hour-long program that for many years has created unique and thought-provoking content. The middle segment this week, her “Fleeing is Believing” looks at the US through the eyes of new immigrants, including commentary by two Iraqi men that I find particularly heart-wrenching.

  • http://avagabonde.blogspot.com/ Vagabonde

    You asked “When and why do you feel like a stranger in your own land.” I have two lands really, dual citizenship and feel like a foreigner in each. I was born and raised in Paris, France. My mother was Parisian but my father was an Armenian from Turkey. At first I understand he was like a refugee, without a country (I still don’t understand if he was born and raised in Turkey why he did not have the Turkish nationality.) I had a long difficult Armenian last name in a school where everyone else had a French name – they did not trust me. So I did not feel 100% French, but being an expat in the USA, it is the same as I have a French accent I am always asked where I am from (even though I have been here for decades) plus the American culture of consumerism and low intellectualism is still difficult for me to get used to. So I have two countries, but don’t feel totally at home in either of them.

    • http://bazaarbayar.blogspot.com/ Catherine Bayar

      I understand the “two countries, foreign in both” feeling, Vagabonde. I will always be a foreigner in Turkey, even if I live there the rest of my life. The difficulties you mention with the hyper-consumerism and a lack of intellectualism are the same major problems I see with the US; neither are traits we should ever ‘get used to’.

      Our experiences outside our cultures will always make us stand apart from them, but we’ll also see things about them to appreciate that those with only one culture will never see. To feel totally at home in a place, or 100% one nationality, would be to limit our human experience. It might be a comfort, but it might also lull us into never learning how to be at home within ourselves.

      I am curious too, how your father never had Turkish citizenship if he was born there? I know in the southeast, Kurdish women may wait until they have several children before they register any of them.
      .-= Catherine Bayar’s latest blog ..Parallel worlds =-.

  • http://avagabonde.blogspot.com/ Vagabonde

    You asked “When and why do you feel like a stranger in your own land.” I have two lands really, dual citizenship and feel like a foreigner in each. I was born and raised in Paris, France. My mother was Parisian but my father was an Armenian from Turkey. At first I understand he was like a refugee, without a country (I still don’t understand if he was born and raised in Turkey why he did not have the Turkish nationality.) I had a long difficult Armenian last name in a school where everyone else had a French name – they did not trust me. So I did not feel 100% French, but being an expat in the USA, it is the same as I have a French accent I am always asked where I am from (even though I have been here for decades) plus the American culture of consumerism and low intellectualism is still difficult for me to get used to. So I have two countries, but don’t feel totally at home in either of them.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

      I understand the “two countries, foreign in both” feeling, Vagabonde. I will always be a foreigner in Turkey, even if I live there the rest of my life. The difficulties you mention with the hyper-consumerism and a lack of intellectualism are the same major problems I see with the US; neither are traits we should ever ‘get used to’.

      Our experiences outside our cultures will always make us stand apart from them, but we’ll also see things about them to appreciate that those with only one culture will never see. To feel totally at home in a place, or 100% one nationality, would be to limit our human experience. It might be a comfort, but it might also lull us into never learning how to be at home within ourselves.

      I am curious too, how your father never had Turkish citizenship if he was born there? I know in the southeast, Kurdish women may wait until they have several children before they register any of them.
      .-= Catherine Bayar’s latest blog ..Parallel worlds =-.

  • http://www.wondermentwoman.com Elmira

    Thanks for this post Catherine. I spent some time traveling in southeastern Turkey, hanging out with Kurds. It was a strange, eye opening experience. Perhaps because I’m a “hyphenated” American I was able to empathize with the Kurdish situation, and definitely because I’m Turkish I felt ashamed. I can appreciate your husband’s need to be a global citizen or what my Armenian-Turkish friend Mehmet says “an Anatolian.” Turkey is such a rich country. Yet somehow its citizens forget that. This post and Expat Harem is an important voice to illustrate that Turkey is, as you say, a mosaic – and with the right effort it can turn into symphony.
    .-= Elmira’s latest blog ..Look at me, I saved the world =-.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

      I appreciate your comment and like the symphony metaphor, Elmira. The more we become “hyphenated”, the more we harmonize, we will understand the richness that multi-cultural countries like Turkey have. It’s familiar that your friend Mehmet says “Anatolian”; my husband will claim that also, or “Mesopotamian”…more identity shifting as the mood strikes him. That these two men relate to broader geographic identifiers instead of nationalistic or ethnic ones I think is a good sign of the future, a sign of the orchestra we’re striving to create.

      And your latest blog post is dead-on…but I’ll comment about that there!

  • http://www.wondermentwoman.com Elmira

    Thanks for this post Catherine. I spent some time traveling in southeastern Turkey, hanging out with Kurds. It was a strange, eye opening experience. Perhaps because I’m a “hyphenated” American I was able to empathize with the Kurdish situation, and definitely because I’m Turkish I felt ashamed. I can appreciate your husband’s need to be a global citizen or what my Armenian-Turkish friend Mehmet says “an Anatolian.” Turkey is such a rich country. Yet somehow its citizens forget that. This post and Expat Harem is an important voice to illustrate that Turkey is, as you say, a mosaic – and with the right effort it can turn into symphony.
    .-= Elmira’s latest blog ..Look at me, I saved the world =-.

    • http://bazaarbayar.blogspot.com/ Catherine Bayar

      I appreciate your comment and like the symphony metaphor, Elmira. The more we become “hyphenated”, the more we harmonize, we will understand the richness that multi-cultural countries like Turkey have. It’s familiar that your friend Mehmet says “Anatolian”; my husband will claim that also, or “Mesopotamian”…more identity shifting as the mood strikes him. That these two men relate to broader geographic identifiers instead of nationalistic or ethnic ones I think is a good sign of the future, a sign of the orchestra we’re striving to create.

      And your latest blog post is dead-on…but I’ll comment about that there!

  • kari m.

    Hear, hear Judith! :-) And, Anastasia, Catherine; I see I`m in good company when it comes to sensing subtle energies at certain places. Hope you treasure your sensitivity. Judith, as always you inspire me to think further and perhaps this could be a future topic here on expat+HAREM?

  • kari m.

    Hear, hear Judith! :-) And, Anastasia, Catherine; I see I`m in good company when it comes to sensing subtle energies at certain places. Hope you treasure your sensitivity. Judith, as always you inspire me to think further and perhaps this could be a future topic here on expat+HAREM?

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  • http://inesedesign.com/Home.html Inese Liepina

    I was born in the USA to Latvian parents, spoke Latvian first but learned English by the time I started grade school. Saturdays were spent at Latvian school instead of watching cartoons like every other kid. I resented it because it seemed stupid to know the language of a country there was no chance of even visiting. I never dreamed that the Soviet Union would dissolve, and that I would move to Riga, Latvia. Now I thank my parents for the forced bilingualism.

    Growing up I always said I was Latvian, and never once considered myself American, now living in Riga I am called American and surprisingly I don’t mind. The WWII refugee Latvians that got to the US were the better educated artists, musicians, business owners who had the means to escape the crisscrossing fronts. I grew up thinking that all Latvians were the smartest, most honest best educated. Then I moved to Latvia and saw the other half, those that were left behind and that the gulag didn’t take and I was in shock. I say that here you can find a few amazing people with hearts of gold, and the rest are just scum, I am embarrassed to share a nationality with a lot of them. Nothing much in the middle, so I ignore the bad and thrive on the good. A lot of countries had the best and brightest systematically eliminated for 50 years and more.

    When I return to the States the US Latvians (1st and 2nd generation) leave me nauseous with their rah rah overblown Latvian patriotism. I think that it will take a few generations and lots of travel and living on both sides to even out. I am happy when kids from Latvia study elsewhere in Europe or America so that they can see options, and thrilled when US kids do internships here so they see its not all that its blown up to be, and this country needs help, its not the utopia of their grand parents dreams.

    • http://bazaarbayar.blogspot.com/ Catherine Bayar

      Inese, it’s interesting to read what you say about those “best and brightest” Latvians who left – I think I knew one, since he would have been about the right age. One of my favorite teachers in high school was Latvian, a quirky but brilliant man with such an pedestrian American name that I now realize he must have adopted it when he shifted identities. None of us knew where Latvia was of course, but he made sure we learned about it, as well as so many other things.

      It also seems the diaspora of any nationality/ethnicity holds tighter to their culture than those who remained in the homeland. I know that to be true of the Kurds who’ve gone to Europe to live. They come back to a place they no longer recognize, to family members who are more “Westernized” than they who live in the West are.

  • http://inesedesign.com/Home.html Inese Liepina

    I was born in the USA to Latvian parents, spoke Latvian first but learned English by the time I started grade school. Saturdays were spent at Latvian school instead of watching cartoons like every other kid. I resented it because it seemed stupid to know the language of a country there was no chance of even visiting. I never dreamed that the Soviet Union would dissolve, and that I would move to Riga, Latvia. Now I thank my parents for the forced bilingualism.

    Growing up I always said I was Latvian, and never once considered myself American, now living in Riga I am called American and surprisingly I don’t mind. The WWII refugee Latvians that got to the US were the better educated artists, musicians, business owners who had the means to escape the crisscrossing fronts. I grew up thinking that all Latvians were the smartest, most honest best educated. Then I moved to Latvia and saw the other half, those that were left behind and that the gulag didn’t take and I was in shock. I say that here you can find a few amazing people with hearts of gold, and the rest are just scum, I am embarrassed to share a nationality with a lot of them. Nothing much in the middle, so I ignore the bad and thrive on the good. A lot of countries had the best and brightest systematically eliminated for 50 years and more.

    When I return to the States the US Latvians (1st and 2nd generation) leave me nauseous with their rah rah overblown Latvian patriotism. I think that it will take a few generations and lots of travel and living on both sides to even out. I am happy when kids from Latvia study elsewhere in Europe or America so that they can see options, and thrilled when US kids do internships here so they see its not all that its blown up to be, and this country needs help, its not the utopia of their grand parents dreams.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

      Inese, it’s interesting to read what you say about those “best and brightest” Latvians who left – I think I knew one, since he would have been about the right age. One of my favorite teachers in high school was Latvian, a quirky but brilliant man with such an pedestrian American name that I now realize he must have adopted it when he shifted identities. None of us knew where Latvia was of course, but he made sure we learned about it, as well as so many other things.

      It also seems the diaspora of any nationality/ethnicity holds tighter to their culture than those who remained in the homeland. I know that to be true of the Kurds who’ve gone to Europe to live. They come back to a place they no longer recognize, to family members who are more “Westernized” than they who live in the West are.

  • http://www.isaokato.com/ Isao

    As a TCK myself, I never felt not feeling strange anywhere – in fact, I only started feeling comfortable just being myself when I admitted that being a stranger is my way of life and found fellow strangers-in-their-homeland peers.

    Here, the word “stranger” should not be used to build walls around us; it means that we accept each person to be totally different even in regard to fundamental issues such as religious beliefs, eating habit, communication method…

    But that calm state of mind came only after years of bloody struggles with my identity, my family, and numerous assimilation efforts (luckily they all failed).

    In the future, when we all get mixed, being a stranger might become the norm (yeah) but then, people who are thinking otherwise might start having a hard time (yikes).

    • http://bazaarbayar.blogspot.com/ Catherine Bayar

      Isao, I love your definition of ‘stranger’! If only that’s what the word meant to everyone. My husband would agree with you, how you’ve also come to such a realization only after “years of bloody struggles”. He’s ‘failed’ with the assimilation part too – like you, he’s only become more himself.
      I’d love to see the day when being a stranger is the norm; I’m afraid that as human beings, we’d then look for other ways to group ourselves. But I’m cautiously optimistic, since a redefinition of the word ‘tribe’ seems to be emerging. Perhaps we could do that for the word ‘stranger’ next?

      My appreciation to all for these comments!

  • http://www.isaokato.com/ Isao

    As a TCK myself, I never felt not feeling strange anywhere – in fact, I only started feeling comfortable just being myself when I admitted that being a stranger is my way of life and found fellow strangers-in-their-homeland peers.

    Here, the word “stranger” should not be used to build walls around us; it means that we accept each person to be totally different even in regard to fundamental issues such as religious beliefs, eating habit, communication method…

    But that calm state of mind came only after years of bloody struggles with my identity, my family, and numerous assimilation efforts (luckily they all failed).

    In the future, when we all get mixed, being a stranger might become the norm (yeah) but then, people who are thinking otherwise might start having a hard time (yikes).

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

      Isao, I love your definition of ‘stranger’! If only that’s what the word meant to everyone. My husband would agree with you, how you’ve also come to such a realization only after “years of bloody struggles”. He’s ‘failed’ with the assimilation part too – like you, he’s only become more himself.
      I’d love to see the day when being a stranger is the norm; I’m afraid that as human beings, we’d then look for other ways to group ourselves. But I’m cautiously optimistic, since a redefinition of the word ‘tribe’ seems to be emerging. Perhaps we could do that for the word ‘stranger’ next?

      My appreciation to all for these comments!

  • kari m.

    Lovely post Catherine. I always learn something when reading your posts. What particularly comes to my mind now is the interesting fact that you and your husband are living close to just Ephesus in Turkey. The ancient, once-upon-a-time glorious cosmopolitan Ephesus. People with visions like you might somehow perhaps get creatively affected by the ‘vibes’ from those old times. :-) I imagine how foreign many of those citizens (or slaves) of just Ephesus back then, who for different reasons moved to there, must have felt too. Just a thought.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.etsy.com Catherine Bayar

      And what a wonderful thought it is, Kari! Since our house is on a hill that’s been inhabited for 8000 years, the site of the first incarnation of Ephesus, it’s hard not to think of all those who have lived there before, to feel their lingering presence. It’s everywhere we look.
      Perhaps that’s why my husband and I met there, and why Selcuk feels like home…two global citizens drawn by remnants of cultural mixes past. And now we’re off to live in another huge melting pot, that metropolis the defines the term ‘cultural mix” in past, present and future terms. But more on that in my next expat+HAREM post…
      .-= Catherine Bayar’s latest blog ..Handblown Glass Beads =-.

    • Anastasia

      There is absolutely distinct energy in long-inhabited places, and spots of high civilization Kari! I’d think there is also a natural melancholy from ‘glories lost’ when the modern incarnation of the place doesn’t seem to match its past.

      • http://bazaarbayar.blogspot.com/ Catherine Bayar

        Maybe that’s why I gravitated to the crumbling Old Mission in Santa Barbara as a child, when others my age preferred the beach. I guess I’ve always been drawn to such melancholy places.

    • http://www.dutchessabroad.com Judith van Praag

      Kari, That’s a wonderful observation, I’d like to go as far as to suggest that places like that all over the world and throughout the times have held attraction to people of a certain mind. With the danger of coming across airy-fairy, I think there must be some kind of cosmic energy (the hot spot for “drop me off and beam me up” hee, hee). I’ve experienced the same on the Isle of Majorca where early scholars congregated and created the Catalan Atlas.
      And —this may make you and others laugh— since my creativity is always boosted in Los Angeles, I like to think that underneath all the tinsel the City of Angels is host to a similar energetic field of attraction.

      • http://bazaarbayar.blogspot.com/ Catherine Bayar

        That didn’t make me laugh, Judith. More like tingle, that you would mention LA. I lived in Los Feliz – the old Hollywood of Cecil B de Mille and Charlie Chaplin – for years. A block away from Anastasia in fact, though at the time we never met. (How’s that for cosmic?) Something beyond money and fame is attracting so many from around the world to remake themselves. And if angels are messengers of God, might all those multi-cultural Angelenos be leading us toward that strangerless world?

        Something else occurs to me – actually Los Angeles is named for the Virgin Mary, the “Queen of the Angels”. So there is another connection I have, since Ephesus was the place it’s believed Mary last lived, on Bulbul Dag, the mountain above our valley.

      • Anastasia

        Judith and Catherine, I also found it easy to be creative in LA. For me, it’s the wide-open spaces (sometimes between the ears, as well). You know where the energy often is too hectic for creation? High density, noise-polluted Manhattan!

        @Kari, yes, this is a good topic for a future post….perhaps Judith will oblige us. (We are patiently waiting for the day when she sends a pitch to expat+HAREM…:-)

  • kari m.

    Lovely post Catherine. I always learn something when reading your posts. What particularly comes to my mind now is the interesting fact that you and your husband are living close to just Ephesus in Turkey. The ancient, once-upon-a-time glorious cosmopolitan Ephesus. People with visions like you might somehow perhaps get creatively affected by the ‘vibes’ from those old times. :-) I imagine how foreign many of those citizens (or slaves) of just Ephesus back then, who for different reasons moved to there, must have felt too. Just a thought.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

      And what a wonderful thought it is, Kari! Since our house is on a hill that’s been inhabited for 8000 years, the site of the first incarnation of Ephesus, it’s hard not to think of all those who have lived there before, to feel their lingering presence. It’s everywhere we look.
      Perhaps that’s why my husband and I met there, and why Selcuk feels like home…two global citizens drawn by remnants of cultural mixes past. And now we’re off to live in another huge melting pot, that metropolis the defines the term ‘cultural mix” in past, present and future terms. But more on that in my next expat+HAREM post…
      .-= Catherine Bayar’s latest blog ..Handblown Glass Beads =-.

    • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

      There is absolutely distinct energy in long-inhabited places, and spots of high civilization Kari! I’d think there is also a natural melancholy from ‘glories lost’ when the modern incarnation of the place doesn’t seem to match its past.

      • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

        Maybe that’s why I gravitated to the crumbling Old Mission in Santa Barbara as a child, when others my age preferred the beach. I guess I’ve always been drawn to such melancholy places.

    • Anonymous

      Kari, That’s a wonderful observation, I’d like to go as far as to suggest that places like that all over the world and throughout the times have held attraction to people of a certain mind. With the danger of coming across airy-fairy, I think there must be some kind of cosmic energy (the hot spot for “drop me off and beam me up” hee, hee). I’ve experienced the same on the Isle of Majorca where early scholars congregated and created the Catalan Atlas.
      And —this may make you and others laugh— since my creativity is always boosted in Los Angeles, I like to think that underneath all the tinsel the City of Angels is host to a similar energetic field of attraction.

      • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

        That didn’t make me laugh, Judith. More like tingle, that you would mention LA. I lived in Los Feliz – the old Hollywood of Cecil B de Mille and Charlie Chaplin – for years. A block away from Anastasia in fact, though at the time we never met. (How’s that for cosmic?) Something beyond money and fame is attracting so many from around the world to remake themselves. And if angels are messengers of God, might all those multi-cultural Angelenos be leading us toward that strangerless world?

        Something else occurs to me – actually Los Angeles is named for the Virgin Mary, the “Queen of the Angels”. So there is another connection I have, since Ephesus was the place it’s believed Mary last lived, on Bulbul Dag, the mountain above our valley.

      • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

        Judith and Catherine, I also found it easy to be creative in LA. For me, it’s the wide-open spaces (sometimes between the ears, as well). You know where the energy often is too hectic for creation? High density, noise-polluted Manhattan!

        @Kari, yes, this is a good topic for a future post….perhaps Judith will oblige us. (We are patiently waiting for the day when she sends a pitch to expat+HAREM…:-)

  • http://theinternationalmama.blogspot.com/ Barbara

    Interesting post! As an African-American living in France and married to a German, I know well how deep ethnic/racial divides can go. I find that many Europeans, including sometimes my husband, have no clue how fierce the racial divide is in the U.S. – despite having Obama for president. There are certain parts of the U.S where I still get stared at, as if I escaped a zoo. And when I’m with my husband there are places and times when we get nasty looks and comments.

    On different level, I am also a stranger in my own land because I have been away from it for so long. After living in Paris for 9 years, certain parts of American culture have become foreign to me. I return to the U.S. for a visit and am delighted to be there, but realize that with every year I stay in Paris, the less comfortable I am with certain aspects of my own country. And yet, I’m not wholly integrated into French society either. I don’t really feel like a citizen of the world – often, I feel as if I belong nowhere.

    Finally (geez, I have a lot to say!), with respect to question of whether I’m a global citzen by both choice or necessity, I have a difficult time answering. I think inertia is keeping me here. I love living in France, though I yearn constantly for the familiarity of the U.S. I cannot bear to think of leaving Paris, but I can’t stand the thought of staying here forever. The question of why we’re here and whether we’ll leave becomes more pressing as I consider how my small boys will be affected growing up as Third Culture Kids. I hope that @Joe is right that “the only thing better than having no nationality is having lots.” Sometimes I fear that they’ll feel rootless and culturally adrift. Other times I feel we’re giving them the world.

    OK, I’ll shut up now.

    • http://bazaarbayar.blogspot.com/ Catherine Bayar

      Don’t shut up Barbara, I love what you have to say! I think (hope?) Joe’s comment is the future. I also think you’re giving your boys the world by showing them how many worlds there are. By the time they’re ready to have children of their own, maybe we’ll be beyond all these divisive views?
      That said, I’m shocked this past winter as I’ve been in the US to see how much more the country seems divided about race, religion, who’s a “True American” and who’s not. Are we all just more open to talking about it, is the MSM stirring up stuff that’s not really as mainstream as they report (like the true number of Tea Partiers)and aren’t we over all this yet? I guess not.
      Maybe by feeling we belong nowhere – and I frequently feel this way – we can shift that into seeking those places, being with those people, who help us feel less alone, less of an outsider. Like everyone who contributes their thoughts here at expat+HAREM.

    • http://www.dutchessabroad.com Judith van Praag

      Barbara, There’s always another side of the coin, but not everyone has the courage to look for that duality, let stand embrace it. I’m always impressed when I run into people who’ve lived in one and the same place their whole life.
      You and I and most all of those who frequent Anastasia’s expat+HAREM salon know there’s no going back, no return to the world we left behind, because it has already changed so much. Even people who remain where they have roots must feel that way, although it’s usually not until old age, when they start to lament, “When I was young…,” and those around them eyeball them.

      In the Netherlands I worked for multicultural theater companies. At some point I thought the role of white administrators and producers within our community had too much of a colonial touch, but still the racial divide wasn’t as strong as what I encountered in the U.S.

  • http://theinternationalmama.blogspot.com/ Barbara

    Interesting post! As an African-American living in France and married to a German, I know well how deep ethnic/racial divides can go. I find that many Europeans, including sometimes my husband, have no clue how fierce the racial divide is in the U.S. – despite having Obama for president. There are certain parts of the U.S where I still get stared at, as if I escaped a zoo. And when I’m with my husband there are places and times when we get nasty looks and comments.

    On different level, I am also a stranger in my own land because I have been away from it for so long. After living in Paris for 9 years, certain parts of American culture have become foreign to me. I return to the U.S. for a visit and am delighted to be there, but realize that with every year I stay in Paris, the less comfortable I am with certain aspects of my own country. And yet, I’m not wholly integrated into French society either. I don’t really feel like a citizen of the world – often, I feel as if I belong nowhere.

    Finally (geez, I have a lot to say!), with respect to question of whether I’m a global citzen by both choice or necessity, I have a difficult time answering. I think inertia is keeping me here. I love living in France, though I yearn constantly for the familiarity of the U.S. I cannot bear to think of leaving Paris, but I can’t stand the thought of staying here forever. The question of why we’re here and whether we’ll leave becomes more pressing as I consider how my small boys will be affected growing up as Third Culture Kids. I hope that @Joe is right that “the only thing better than having no nationality is having lots.” Sometimes I fear that they’ll feel rootless and culturally adrift. Other times I feel we’re giving them the world.

    OK, I’ll shut up now.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

      Don’t shut up Barbara, I love what you have to say! I think (hope?) Joe’s comment is the future. I also think you’re giving your boys the world by showing them how many worlds there are. By the time they’re ready to have children of their own, maybe we’ll be beyond all these divisive views?
      That said, I’m shocked this past winter as I’ve been in the US to see how much more the country seems divided about race, religion, who’s a “True American” and who’s not. Are we all just more open to talking about it, is the MSM stirring up stuff that’s not really as mainstream as they report (like the true number of Tea Partiers)and aren’t we over all this yet? I guess not.
      Maybe by feeling we belong nowhere – and I frequently feel this way – we can shift that into seeking those places, being with those people, who help us feel less alone, less of an outsider. Like everyone who contributes their thoughts here at expat+HAREM.

    • Anonymous

      Barbara, There’s always another side of the coin, but not everyone has the courage to look for that duality, let stand embrace it. I’m always impressed when I run into people who’ve lived in one and the same place their whole life.
      You and I and most all of those who frequent Anastasia’s expat+HAREM salon know there’s no going back, no return to the world we left behind, because it has already changed so much. Even people who remain where they have roots must feel that way, although it’s usually not until old age, when they start to lament, “When I was young…,” and those around them eyeball them.

      In the Netherlands I worked for multicultural theater companies. At some point I thought the role of white administrators and producers within our community had too much of a colonial touch, but still the racial divide wasn’t as strong as what I encountered in the U.S.

  • http://www.speakingofchina.com Jocelyn

    Catherine, I love your post — and concur w/ Judith that Mozaik is such a wonderful name!

    You know, your post made me think about so many of us in cross-cultural relationships — that, in some respects, we create our own melding of cultures, and suddenly both of us become a little different than our own respective home cultures. I’ve felt it from my own experience in China, and I’ve seen my husband change after living in the US for some time.

    Of course, neither of us know what it is like to be a minority, like a Kurd. But, certainly, I do feel like a stranger in the US at times (perhaps exacerbated by the fact that I live in Idaho!).
    .-= Jocelyn’s latest blog ..Chapter 59: Going to the Hospital in China =-.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.etsy.com Catherine Bayar

      I have relatives in Idaho, Jocelyn – say no more! (Sometimes I think that each state of the US should really just be its own country…but then, that would be moving backward.) As much as I love my family, I’m a stranger there, if not in ethnicity or nationality, then decidedly in opinion. Even in California, I find I have to temper my opinions not to ruffle feathers, and it’s hard to restrain myself at times.

      We often joked that Mosaik was our own personal culture. I agree people in cross-cultural relationships do benefit from each other’s experience. My husband has only lived with me in the US a total of about a year, but his three years prior in Belgium and Holland changed him as much as his East/West Turkey experience did. If he didn’t look so much like his brothers, who’ve never lived away from the family, I’d swear they were not related at all.
      .-= Catherine Bayar’s latest blog ..Handblown Glass Beads =-.

      • http://www.dutchessabroad.com Judith van Praag

        Catherine, Reading about your husband’s stay in Belgium and Holland the name Ibrahim Selman popped up. He and I worked with the directors Rufus Collins (Afro-American) and Henk Tjon (Surinamese). He’s written several books. Don’t know if your husband reads Dutch, but if you click on ‘boeken’ in the menu bar of his site you’ll see the titles.

        • http://bazaarbayar.blogspot.com/ Catherine Bayar

          Thanks Judith – he speaks it (somewhat!) but does not read. What does “Dapper hart gezocht” mean? The cover of that book, with its leaning minaret, crumbling wood Ottoman houses and small boy in the lane, is a compelling image.

          Have you ever seen the films of actor/screenwriter/director Yilmaz Guney?
          My husband’s favorite; his was a fascinating life of drama by all definitions. Because my husband discovered early on that I learn best by seeing, he bought all Guney’s films so he could visually “explain” to me so much about Turkish/Kurdish life. Quite an education about a past that I hope is disappearing – not the culture, but the hardships.

          • http://www.dutchessabroad.com Judith van Praag

            Catherine, “Dapper hart gezocht” literally means “Looking for a brave heart”, but I think “Brave Heart Wanted” might be closer to the meaning. Of course the translation of the title depends on the contents of the book, which I haven’t read. But I do think Ibrahim’s oeuvre could be classified as exile literature and is political and in this case nostalgic. This collection of essays is about memories, about longing for the world of the writer’s youth. He searches for relatives in Kurdish refugee camps in the mountains, but his parents only appear in his dreams.

            “I wish I did not know longing, I wish I wasn’t homesick, I wish I did not feel love for my bitter past. If only I could neglect my sentiments, turn my heart to stone when it tries to soften me. But I can’t, I’m too weak for that; I’ve lived in exile too long and exile makes for a sentimental heart.”
            From Dapper hart gezocht.

            Of Yilmaz Guney I saw the film Yol and after all these years still remember the heart rendering scenes.

            <i Is the "culture without hardships" you wish for a possibility, when the reason why people fight each other often is based on unwillingness to accept cultural (religious, racial) differences?

            • http://bazaarbayar.blogspot.com/ Catherine Bayar

              After reading that quote, I must read that book. Perhaps it’s published in Kurdish? Unlikely.

              No hardships, no fighting over our differences? I know, I’m dreaming. But I’m like Isao, imagining that future where we all get ‘mixed’. Not to lose what’s unique about each of us, but to share what we all have in common.

          • http://www.dutchessabroad.com Judith van Praag

            You could contact the author directly through his Website and ask him, I’m sure he’d love to hear from you guys!

  • http://www.speakingofchina.com Jocelyn

    Catherine, I love your post — and concur w/ Judith that Mozaik is such a wonderful name!

    You know, your post made me think about so many of us in cross-cultural relationships — that, in some respects, we create our own melding of cultures, and suddenly both of us become a little different than our own respective home cultures. I’ve felt it from my own experience in China, and I’ve seen my husband change after living in the US for some time.

    Of course, neither of us know what it is like to be a minority, like a Kurd. But, certainly, I do feel like a stranger in the US at times (perhaps exacerbated by the fact that I live in Idaho!).
    .-= Jocelyn’s latest blog ..Chapter 59: Going to the Hospital in China =-.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

      I have relatives in Idaho, Jocelyn – say no more! (Sometimes I think that each state of the US should really just be its own country…but then, that would be moving backward.) As much as I love my family, I’m a stranger there, if not in ethnicity or nationality, then decidedly in opinion. Even in California, I find I have to temper my opinions not to ruffle feathers, and it’s hard to restrain myself at times.

      We often joked that Mosaik was our own personal culture. I agree people in cross-cultural relationships do benefit from each other’s experience. My husband has only lived with me in the US a total of about a year, but his three years prior in Belgium and Holland changed him as much as his East/West Turkey experience did. If he didn’t look so much like his brothers, who’ve never lived away from the family, I’d swear they were not related at all.
      .-= Catherine Bayar’s latest blog ..Handblown Glass Beads =-.

      • Anonymous

        Catherine, Reading about your husband’s stay in Belgium and Holland the name Ibrahim Selman popped up. He and I worked with the directors Rufus Collins (Afro-American) and Henk Tjon (Surinamese). He’s written several books. Don’t know if your husband reads Dutch, but if you click on ‘boeken’ in the menu bar of his site you’ll see the titles.

        • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

          Thanks Judith – he speaks it (somewhat!) but does not read. What does “Dapper hart gezocht” mean? The cover of that book, with its leaning minaret, crumbling wood Ottoman houses and small boy in the lane, is a compelling image.

          Have you ever seen the films of actor/screenwriter/director Yilmaz Guney?
          My husband’s favorite; his was a fascinating life of drama by all definitions. Because my husband discovered early on that I learn best by seeing, he bought all Guney’s films so he could visually “explain” to me so much about Turkish/Kurdish life. Quite an education about a past that I hope is disappearing – not the culture, but the hardships.

          • Anonymous

            Catherine, “Dapper hart gezocht” literally means “Looking for a brave heart”, but I think “Brave Heart Wanted” might be closer to the meaning. Of course the translation of the title depends on the contents of the book, which I haven’t read. But I do think Ibrahim’s oeuvre could be classified as exile literature and is political and in this case nostalgic. This collection of essays is about memories, about longing for the world of the writer’s youth. He searches for relatives in Kurdish refugee camps in the mountains, but his parents only appear in his dreams.

            “I wish I did not know longing, I wish I wasn’t homesick, I wish I did not feel love for my bitter past. If only I could neglect my sentiments, turn my heart to stone when it tries to soften me. But I can’t, I’m too weak for that; I’ve lived in exile too long and exile makes for a sentimental heart.”
            From Dapper hart gezocht.

            Of Yilmaz Guney I saw the film Yol and after all these years still remember the heart rendering scenes.

            <i Is the "culture without hardships" you wish for a possibility, when the reason why people fight each other often is based on unwillingness to accept cultural (religious, racial) differences?

            • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

              After reading that quote, I must read that book. Perhaps it’s published in Kurdish? Unlikely.

              No hardships, no fighting over our differences? I know, I’m dreaming. But I’m like Isao, imagining that future where we all get ‘mixed’. Not to lose what’s unique about each of us, but to share what we all have in common.

          • Anonymous

            You could contact the author directly through his Website and ask him, I’m sure he’d love to hear from you guys!

  • http://thechangingman.livejournal.com/ Joe Clarke

    I was born in England in the sixties and my parents were Irish. I went to a Catholic grammar school and didn’t have any “English”,or protestant, friends until I went to University. I was Irish in England and English in Ireland, and grew up during the height of the IRA bombing campaign in England and the English counter terrorism campaign in Ireland and so should have been treated with suspicion in both my homes.But I wasn’t. I was treated the same on the council estate in London as I was on the farm in Leitrim.
    I don’t feel a nationality. If pushed I defined myself as London Irish which is closer to a state of mind.
    Now I have a third nationality. Turkish. I recently was granted Turkish citizenship. Its great and I love this country but I still don’t feel nationalistic. I believe “My Country, Right Or Wrong” to be as bad a creed as putting God (any God) above humanity. There are good and bad Brits, Irish, Turks, Americans, Catholics, Muslims, Atheists…
    I’m now a London Irish Turk.
    Or Joe.

    • http://www.dutchessabroad.com Judith van Praag

      @Joe, You make me want to get my U.S. Citizenship, no honestly.

      • http://thechangingman.livejournal.com/ Joe Clarke

        The only better thing than having no nationallity is having lots.

        • http://www.bazaarbayar.etsy.com Catherine Bayar

          And Joe, forgot to say congratulations on your latest citizenship, and even moreso, escaping that military service!
          .-= Catherine Bayar’s latest blog ..Handblown Glass Beads =-.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.etsy.com Catherine Bayar

      I know my husband would relate to your childhood, Joe, since you too grew up caught between violent cultural clashes. Where your experiences might differ perhaps, is that he WAS looked upon with suspicion – by one group for being that ‘stranger’ and by the other for leaving the ‘tribe’.
      I agree, the rising nationalism I see in both my countries is a concern, since I’ve learned the ‘other’ is rarely as big a threat to us as the fear about them we manifest. Having multiple allegiances is not contradictory, it’s building bridges.
      .-= Catherine Bayar’s latest blog ..Handblown Glass Beads =-.

  • http://thechangingman.livejournal.com/ Joe Clarke

    I was born in England in the sixties and my parents were Irish. I went to a Catholic grammar school and didn’t have any “English”,or protestant, friends until I went to University. I was Irish in England and English in Ireland, and grew up during the height of the IRA bombing campaign in England and the English counter terrorism campaign in Ireland and so should have been treated with suspicion in both my homes.But I wasn’t. I was treated the same on the council estate in London as I was on the farm in Leitrim.
    I don’t feel a nationality. If pushed I defined myself as London Irish which is closer to a state of mind.
    Now I have a third nationality. Turkish. I recently was granted Turkish citizenship. Its great and I love this country but I still don’t feel nationalistic. I believe “My Country, Right Or Wrong” to be as bad a creed as putting God (any God) above humanity. There are good and bad Brits, Irish, Turks, Americans, Catholics, Muslims, Atheists…
    I’m now a London Irish Turk.
    Or Joe.

    • Anonymous

      @Joe, You make me want to get my U.S. Citizenship, no honestly.

      • http://thechangingman.livejournal.com/ Joe Clarke

        The only better thing than having no nationallity is having lots.

        • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

          And Joe, forgot to say congratulations on your latest citizenship, and even moreso, escaping that military service!
          .-= Catherine Bayar’s latest blog ..Handblown Glass Beads =-.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

      I know my husband would relate to your childhood, Joe, since you too grew up caught between violent cultural clashes. Where your experiences might differ perhaps, is that he WAS looked upon with suspicion – by one group for being that ‘stranger’ and by the other for leaving the ‘tribe’.
      I agree, the rising nationalism I see in both my countries is a concern, since I’ve learned the ‘other’ is rarely as big a threat to us as the fear about them we manifest. Having multiple allegiances is not contradictory, it’s building bridges.
      .-= Catherine Bayar’s latest blog ..Handblown Glass Beads =-.

  • http://www.dutchessabroad.com Judith van Praag

    Dear Catherine,
    How wonderful that your husband came up with the name Mozaik for your water pipe bar (could you introduce that concept to the U.S.?), and not just for the colorful mix of cultures within.
    While mosaic is often made of pre-cut standardized materials, what comes to my mind are the beautiful charts of ceramics and pottery, put together to form a tantalizing image; something new made out of something broken, something splendid created from what might have been discarded, but was saved by a thoughtful mind, a creative person with the eye of an artist, the soul of a warrior-poet, the heart of a lover.
    As for your question, my father lived through two world wars (he was 57 when I was born) both he and my mother re-build a life without relatives and friends away from the city where they lost so much. I was born to be a stranger in a strange land, raised in the middle of nowhere. We were foreigners in our own country, thus I always felt at home with immigrants, even when I lived in the Netherlands.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.etsy.com Catherine Bayar

      We’d talked (never seriously) with several people over the 5 years we had Mosaik about doing one in the US Judith, but smoking laws are challenging…and ultimately why we closed our place last July when Turkish laws became quite strict as well.
      Your words about about mosaics are gorgeous – I’m going to print them out as something to read every day to inspire me in our new endeavor, incorporating old crafts and found objects into new works of beauty. Thank you!
      Would love to read more of your family story someday. My parents were like most Californians in that they were born elsewhere, but their origins were in other states, not countries. Like ripples, our worlds are expanding with each generation…
      .-= Catherine Bayar’s latest blog ..Handblown Glass Beads =-.

      • http://www.dutchessabroad.com Judith van Praag

        Catherine, You make my day, and as if it isn’t enough that you want to print out my words, I imagine them on a tile now : )
        Hopefully you will be able to read my family story within a few years, the work title is “Painting for Life”. I’ve got the words, now I’m building the structure.

        • http://bazaarbayar.blogspot.com/ Catherine Bayar

          I see I’m in good company Judith – you “Painting for Life”, me “Weaving Our Way Home”. So much of our personal identities come from what we create instead of where we were born.

          And if you’d like to visit your inspiring mosaic words again (before they are painted on that tile), you can find them here.

          • http://www.dutchessabroad.com Judith van Praag

            Dialogue2010 Sister, I’m touched. And I Love your mosaic, the discussion you started here is so compelling that I didn’t pay enough attention to the illustration above, it only dawns on me now that you signed for the design. Gorgeous!

  • Anonymous

    Dear Catherine,
    How wonderful that your husband came up with the name Mozaik for your water pipe bar (could you introduce that concept to the U.S.?), and not just for the colorful mix of cultures within.
    While mosaic is often made of pre-cut standardized materials, what comes to my mind are the beautiful charts of ceramics and pottery, put together to form a tantalizing image; something new made out of something broken, something splendid created from what might have been discarded, but was saved by a thoughtful mind, a creative person with the eye of an artist, the soul of a warrior-poet, the heart of a lover.
    As for your question, my father lived through two world wars (he was 57 when I was born) both he and my mother re-build a life without relatives and friends away from the city where they lost so much. I was born to be a stranger in a strange land, raised in the middle of nowhere. We were foreigners in our own country, thus I always felt at home with immigrants, even when I lived in the Netherlands.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

      We’d talked (never seriously) with several people over the 5 years we had Mosaik about doing one in the US Judith, but smoking laws are challenging…and ultimately why we closed our place last July when Turkish laws became quite strict as well.
      Your words about about mosaics are gorgeous – I’m going to print them out as something to read every day to inspire me in our new endeavor, incorporating old crafts and found objects into new works of beauty. Thank you!
      Would love to read more of your family story someday. My parents were like most Californians in that they were born elsewhere, but their origins were in other states, not countries. Like ripples, our worlds are expanding with each generation…
      .-= Catherine Bayar’s latest blog ..Handblown Glass Beads =-.

      • Anonymous

        Catherine, You make my day, and as if it isn’t enough that you want to print out my words, I imagine them on a tile now : )
        Hopefully you will be able to read my family story within a few years, the work title is “Painting for Life”. I’ve got the words, now I’m building the structure.

        • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

          I see I’m in good company Judith – you “Painting for Life”, me “Weaving Our Way Home”. So much of our personal identities come from what we create instead of where we were born.

          And if you’d like to visit your inspiring mosaic words again (before they are painted on that tile), you can find them here.

          • Anonymous

            Dialogue2010 Sister, I’m touched. And I Love your mosaic, the discussion you started here is so compelling that I didn’t pay enough attention to the illustration above, it only dawns on me now that you signed for the design. Gorgeous!

  • http://cheeseweb.eu Alison

    Although we moved to Belgium for my husband’s job. We actively pursued an international career. So I am definitely a global citizen by choice. I had never considered the effects of having this life thrust upon you though. I know many international families here in Brussels with small children. One or both parents are expats here and the child will be multiple nationalities. I had always seen nothing but advantages to this but maybe lacking one distinct culture is a challenge too. Great post!
    .-= Alison’s latest blog ..Where Do I Go From Here? =-.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.etsy.com Catherine Bayar

      I too had never truly understood this, Alison, until I met my husband and got to see the world through his eyes. Even growing up in multi-cultural CA was nothing like being the “odd one out” experience he often suffered though. Travel gave me a taste of what that’s like, but it was temporary. Now after living away from the US, I do feel that being grounded in one culture for a sense of belonging is human ‘tribal’ nature, but something I hope we are moving away from. The next generation will have much broader viewpoints, I hope!
      .-= Catherine Bayar’s latest blog ..Handblown Glass Beads =-.

  • http://cheeseweb.eu Alison

    Although we moved to Belgium for my husband’s job. We actively pursued an international career. So I am definitely a global citizen by choice. I had never considered the effects of having this life thrust upon you though. I know many international families here in Brussels with small children. One or both parents are expats here and the child will be multiple nationalities. I had always seen nothing but advantages to this but maybe lacking one distinct culture is a challenge too. Great post!
    .-= Alison’s latest blog ..Where Do I Go From Here? =-.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

      I too had never truly understood this, Alison, until I met my husband and got to see the world through his eyes. Even growing up in multi-cultural CA was nothing like being the “odd one out” experience he often suffered though. Travel gave me a taste of what that’s like, but it was temporary. Now after living away from the US, I do feel that being grounded in one culture for a sense of belonging is human ‘tribal’ nature, but something I hope we are moving away from. The next generation will have much broader viewpoints, I hope!
      .-= Catherine Bayar’s latest blog ..Handblown Glass Beads =-.

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