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."


Sunday, December 16, 2012

It’s That Time Of The Year Again

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, which is a perfect time to wrap up 2012. I will return in the New Year with all sorts of new material - unless the Mayas were right. I promise the jokes will improve and the anecdotes should be somewhat more informative. Like the pirates used to say, "the beatings will continue until morale improves." I appreciate the many requests that made it into my inbox over the year and your messages of support finding the information provided useful. If I managed to make a difference for some of you, then all the efforts throughout the year have not been in vain.

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree

Many of you following this blog (having followers makes me feel a little like Moses) over the past two years can guess that I will spend the most wonderful time of the year with my great family. Indeed I will and I find it truly makes this the most magical season of the year. Friendship and family are priceless yet they are the best gift we could ever receive or give. I always look forward to the Christmas holidays because it is once more a time to slow down the usual pace and enjoy the little things that make living such a blessing.

Every year brings a sack of challenges that encourage some among us to look forward to a brand new year that can only be better than the last. I prefer to see things from a different standpoint - guess I am a glass-half full kind of guy. It’s not about what has happened throughout your life but how you face each individual situation and bounce back. This is what shapes our present and sets the stage for a future presenting a magnificent world of opportunities and room for change. This may all sound like wishful thinking to some of you, but its worked wonders. Miracles are in our own hands.

Hopefully the stories of events past that I have endured "gracefully" with my family and on my own have given some contrast to your own plight and nudged you along the way. When we come into this world, nobody gave us an instruction manual and we feel like our internal compass is busted. In my teenage years and early adulthood this was certainly the case and wished for someone to come up and say, “Hey Will, this is how it’s done.” In fact, we all have our own unique paths to walk in life, but shared knowledge can help along the way.

With my favourite little ones, my niece and nephew

During this festive season, I wish you all a very merry Christmas filled with joy, laughter and special moments that you’ll be able to look back to with a smile until Christmas 2013. We all know the world is not coming to an end this December, but hopefully some of our negative excess baggage is left behind and buried to have a fuller, healthier life. To those spending time away from your families or have no one to spend the holiday season with, you will be in my thoughts as always and there is light at the end of the tunnel. You will never walk alone!

Warm Christmas wishes and all the best for 2013 to you and yours!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Getting To Know Your Fellow Canadian

This weekend, I figured we should continue on the road to higher learning, following the trend of last week’s blog on Canadian expressions. I am proud of you all for successfully passing the course (little did you know I was keeping score). Your certificates are all in the mail. Now, we need to go beyond just sounding Canadian.

In order to truly fit in among the building blocks of different cultures and traditions, I have always found it essential to discover as much as I can such as: what is issues to they relate to, what activities do they enjoy, what should you avoid mentioning, what is the national protocol for shaving, etc. Here are some of elements – not ranked in any particular order - that make Canadians who they are.

      1.     Nature: Canada’s playground

For the most part, we are urban people (about 80% of us). Our daily battlefield is on the asphalt streets in between concrete structures and glass towers where we ride subways, buses and trains holding our trusty cup of Tim Horton’s coffee. Canadian civilization would disappear without coffee. We are among the better-connected civilizations in the world of communications and social media even though competition in these markets is minimal.

Many among us reward our responsible attitude and work ethic with a well-deserved retreat into the wild with our friends, our families or even just on our own. We need that escape into the country. It doesn’t matter if it is 30 degrees or 30 below outside. We enjoy the gift of nature and the space we have within our borders to hike, skate, canoe, ski, camp or anything else we can think of do to outdoors. That is time to disconnect from the technology that runs that other life we left back home.

      2.     Patriotism with tolerance

During my time in Europe and Latin America, I noticed that many countries’ national flags are displayed primarily in government offices or during official functions. In other countries, the flag symbolizes nationalism with a twist of exclusion. To think that days of racial and ethnic tension are far in the past is to deny a true sense of an alarming reality.

You will notice that we hang our flag high. People wear toques, shirts, jackets and caps (even hang a flag in their living room) as a sign of love and respect for a country that accepts. We are a country of immigrants – including those who left England and France to colonize the brave New World – and we are proud to continue to welcome those fleeing persecution or simply looking for a fresh start.

      3.     There is always time for manners

In general, Canadians are not “in-your-face” people. We enjoy peace, quiet and most importantly, personal space. I know you might be thinking: “Sounds like a land of retirees.” We know some people need a taste of the wild life, eccentric living and borderline rude behaviour, which is why we have Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. We basically treat people the way we expect to be treated. Keep it simple.

      4.     It’s all about hockey

Some people founded religions while others built great public works to stand the test of time. For a Canadian, it’s all about hockey. We have an NBA basketball team, an MLB baseball team, a few MLS teams, but we also have several Stanley Cups – the highest honour in the world of hockey gifted by Lord Stanley himself. Hockey and the weather give Canadians plenty to talk up a storm! Here’s a fact few people outside of Canada know: we saved the world from a nuclear apocalypse by schooling the Soviets in hockey back in the 70s. You’re welcome world!

      5.     Social Healthcare

Ok, sure our hospitals are not what they used to be. Our public medicine is hurting but it is still spectacular for emergency treatment. Is healthcare in Canada free because we are a bunch of commies? Nope. We pay taxes every year to keep our hospitals going, our doctors smiling and our patients out as soon as possible. There is no better feeling than leaving a hospital after an operation without wondering how on earth you will pay off a huge bill in thousands of instalments.

I hope this second course in our lesson plan sheds is up to your standards. Should you have any complaints or may be looking to demand a refund, please head on down to the Canada Post Office in the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse that closed a couple of years ago. They have plenty of time to deal with the public now. Thanks for tuning in once more my friends and see you next week!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Speak Canadian

Since the beginning of time, men and women have always felt the need to communicate effectively through verbal avenues – some more than others, wink wink. Language evolved through specific environments, common challenges and shared interests which we can now consider "regionalisms" or "nuances". This certainly applies to us up here as well. We developed our unique manner of speaking somewhat different from our American cousins and the British Empire although some elements of these two cultures have made it into our own colloquialisms.

If you want to brush up on your Canadian or plan to blend in should you decide to spend some time up here, make sure to add some of these "beauties" to your lingo:

  • Not too bad: Typical answer to someone asking how your day is going. Any other answer is just not Canadian. We know things could be worse and they are not so great because of the taxes we pay versus the Americans.
  • Double double: When visiting Tim Horton’s (also referred to as Timmy Ho’s, Timmy’s or Tim’s) or any fine coffee establishment, if you need two milks and two sugars, this is the only way you’ll sound Canadian when you order. You’ll also think you’re cool when you say it.
  • Loonie: We have a one-dollar coin with a loon on it. No mystery there. Nobody calls it a dollar, it is just not right. We also have a two-dollar coin with a polar bear on it called a Twoonie. Aren’t we just so neat?
  • Brutal: There is only one way to communicate things have not gone well at all for you today. i.e “My meeting today was brutal.”
  • Two-Four: This is used to describe a case of 24 beer bottles. This is your most important expense in Canada when visiting the beer store (yes, we can only buy beer at dedicated stores unless living in Quebec… weird eh?).
  • Hydro: Most residents in English-speaking countries get an electricity or light bill. We get hydro bills. Our electricity is just the same as yours and it is not made out of water.
  • Poutine: This low-fat dish consisting of French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds is guaranteed to fill your heart with joy and lower your cholesterol immediately. The grease is what makes us look so good!
  • Beaver Tails: Now, don’t freak out there. We are not senseless carnivores. These are traditional fried pastries in the shape of a beaver’s tail with a light dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon - although newer toppings include ice cream, maple or chocolate syrup or fruit.
  • To table: When we say this in Canada, we mean to bring up a subject we wish to discuss immediately. Americans usually mention this when they want to put an issue aside that could be picked up on another occasion.
  • You’re welcome: Many times I have said “thank you” in the US, people tend to respond with an expressive “mm-hmm” or “uh-huh”. We don’t do that here. We prefer words even if we are moody, upset or groggy and tend to respond in a complete sentence or just say nothing at all.

There are many other common expressions in Canadian English from sea to shining sea and it is important to preserve this precious language. We cannot assume that one’s language is better or more appropriate than someone else's as different circumstances occurring over years contributed to shaping entire cultures. Anyway – which can commonly be said “anyways” up here – hope this cheat sheet helps when you come up North for a visit. Give'er!