A third-culture kid (TCK / 3CK) or trans-culture kid is "someone who, as a child, has spent a significant period of time in one or more cultures other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture."


Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year is Upon Us... Welcome 2011!

Dear friends,

Today is an important day, as is on every last day of every year. This is a time where typically we should remember the blessings of the year that has come to an end, thanking our God - or which ever spiritual entity one chooses - for every learning experience we have received that makes us stronger and hopefully a bit wiser.

Upper Canada Village, 2010

I have spent on some occasions the holidays away from my family and I must admit this can be a tough season to be alone. I have also spent these holidays with my birth family and other times with my new Colombian family who gave me one of my best gifts: My wife Ana Maria. The key has always been  remembering the blessings both in the face of challenges overcome as well as moments that made you smile and feel like the luckiest person alive.

This is also a great moment to think of the people who give shape to your life, such as family - my parents, David and Madeleine, who dedicated their life to their family giving their children all the right tools to shape their world the way they want. Brian, my brother, who has been there for me since the very beginning, and later on together with his wife, Melissa and my lovely first niece Emma. Pio and Norma, my Colombian parents who welcomed me into their life as their Canadian son. Santi and Camila my new brother and sister who are always there to make me laugh and feel funny by politely laughing at my bad jokes. Ana Maria, my twin flame who has easily become a Bickford and taught me how to become a bit more Salazar Moreno - as well as the family we adopt throughout life, friends.

Manotick, ON 2010.

It is easy to say we live in an increasingly difficult world, but family and friendship make the experience much richer. Many times I think of where I came from, where I have lived, the challenges and everything that shapes a human life and it always brings me back to this conclusion: "All You Need is Love", John Lennon. When I think of an ideal world to share with humanity, I often remember the movie with Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, "Pay It Forward". A young boy undertakes a school project aimed at proposing something revolutionary to create a better world. The child comes up with the idea of a simple gesture of giving without expecting anything in return, except for the person who received the gesture of kindess to pay it forward. That's a world I would like to live in and believe we can achieve this in leading by example. My closest friends know this is how I like to live.

David, Madeleine, William and Ana, wishing you a great 2011.

I guess the overall end of the year message is the same one that we have as Christians during Christmas - I am sure other cultures and religions have something similar - peace on earth. Let's all get together and make it last longer than Christmas and New Year, shall we?

Best wishes for 2011 to everyone!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Canada - Discovering "Home"

In 1983, my father had completed his three-year posting in Brazil, so the family was to relocate to Ottawa, my first Canadian home. We lived in a quiet suburb called Hunt Club, similar to the neighbourhood in Brasilia except for the jungle and the wildlife that goes along with it. My initial culture shock was that my understanding of languages had changed somewhat. My mom was still speaking French and my father English. For some reason, everyone else did not seem to understand Portuguese. I suddenly got furious that I could not interact and went on a temporary vow of silence. Through my brother and neighbourhood kids, I realized the language in practice was now English and French.

Brian and I in our basement in Ottawa.

I began my education in Ottawa, starting at the Hunt Club Riverside Community Centre. My fellow classmates were mostly French speaking and we had really fun activities, which I do not tend to practice much these days, such as naptime. The pre-school classes became my world as well as the neighbourhood kids until my first winter. I was unable to go outside and play as freely as I used to because the temperature would drop to a balmy average of 15ºC or 20ºC below 0ºC, without the wind-chill factor. For those who do not live in the frozen North, wind-chill is that refreshing breeze you get out of nowhere. Sometimes this air can be felt while walking, or even hiding in a bus shelter, and I imagine a similar feeling would be thousands of daggers and needles hitting your skin. Furthermore, if you are out too long in the cold and cannot feel so cold anymore, alarm bells should be ringing. I believe an appropriate term for this is frostbite. Anyway, I am sure there are better authorities on coaching newcomers for Canadian winter survival.
Dad, Brian and myself trying out the newest fashion trends in menswear.
I then became old enough to attend preschool where I went to Georges-Etienne Cartier, a French-speaking public school close to our home. My first friends were French-Canadian and I began to identify with my mother, as she was my key French interactor. Scholastic excellence was based on story time, sing-alongs, marbles and drawing. I remember having to dress as a lumberjack singing folksongs “Alouette”, “Frère Jacques”, "La Bastringue", “Le bon Roi Dagobert” and other timeless classics.
After building my solid repertoire of music, my love for Scooby Doo and a solid network of play buddies in Ottawa South, we were off again to South America in 1986 looking forward to start a brand new experience.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Brazil - The New Beginning

My entrance to this world was on a snowy Monday March 2nd, 1981 in the Cambridge Memorial Hospital in Cambridge, Canada. My parents, David and Marie-Madeleine and my older brother Brian, were posted in Brasilia at the time where this Brazilian Capital had recently been created from a whole lot of nothing. Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo had grown to an alarming level (still among the top three most populated in South America), the government had decided to create a new capital city that would attract workers from across the country. Where before there had only been jungle, new infrastructure and a new city was being born. My parents felt concerned with the lack of development and resources, my birth could be dangerous, especially as blood transfusions were incredibly scarce.

Here I am honing my gardening skills at 16 months.

Brazil would become my first permanent home when I was three months old. I often hear stories about the difficulties which I was too busy being a newborn to understand. Frogs, lizards, snakes, spiders, all poisonous and in our yard. My parents were instructed by Canadian government staff to check every night in every bed and crib in their home, in each shoe and clothing article before wearing them. My first three years of life were this way and I had also become a very friendly toddler, befriending our gardener, Francisco who for some strange reason had the same name as our dog. I had gained an awareness for languages, knowing the basics: Mom = French, Dad = English, everyone else Portuguese.

Welcome to my Blog

Dear readers,

Welcome to this site dedicated to my interesting persona. I have always been interested in telling my story and opinions on issues that matter the most to me regarding politics, international relations, social conditions in developing nations, cross-cultural communication and even my country of birth, Canada.

I deeply believe that before reading what an author has to say, it is important to know what their background and life experiences are all about. I do not claim to be a savant at the age of 30 and strongly agree with what I have always heard: "Life is all about learning and you are never finished the lesson."

Before digging more into my past and sharing more, I invite you to read about my adventure through life and welcome your comments and/or suggestions. Please ensure that if you do decide to comment, do not share inappropriate language or material that others could find offensive. I believe in free-speech but also mutual respect and common courtesy.