People usually automatically assume that I was raised in the United States when they hear me speak, and are puzzled when I tell them I wasn’t.
“So where did you live?”
“Umm… it’s a long story, but mainly Indonesia—“
“You were born in Indonesia?”
“No, I was born in Ethiopia.”
That’s when anyone overhearing the conversation steps a little closer. At this point, I sigh and resign myself to the task of listing all the countries I’ve lived in: Ethiopia, Somalia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Croatia, and India. After that long list, I have to add that, yes, my parents are both Egyptians.
My own childhood friends came from at least ten different countries and are now probably spread out over all the habitable continents. I was always grateful for this variety, and for my ability to get along with and understand people from diverse cultural, racial, and religious backgrounds.
I later discovered that there was a term for people like me – people who were brought up in cultures different from the culture of their parents. I was a TCK, a Third Culture Kid, or, more accurately, an Adult Third Culture Kid.
As a graduate of English and comparative literature, I have always been a staunch supporter of Anglophone literature, but a few years ago, I fell in love with Arabic poetry. I started watching old Egyptian movies with a vengeance. I scoured the Internet for folk music and songs. I found myself thirsty for more and started reading history.
That’s when I decided I would set on a mission to discover the Arab world, grabbing every opportunity that arose to travel to an Arab country.
My job as a freelance copy editor, some-times journalist, consultant, and a writer gives me the chance to be all parts of my identity: the Arab Muslim woman, as well as the multicultural international person. I travel both to the Arab world and view it with the eyes of a woman rediscovering her heritage, as well as to Europe and the United States, and revisit cultures I went to school with.
While I’m fiddling away with this blog, or on other sites on the Internet, talking about writing, reading about writing, and dreaming about writing, I really should be writing.