Hi everyone, I’m S.Y., one of the student staff leaders (SSL) at the ICC. I am still a newbie at both the ICC and Waseda as I entered university this fall semester. Four months have passed ever since, it is unbelievable how fast time flies. I hope you all have had an amazing winter holiday.
Today, I would like to talk about what ‘home’ means to me. Before I get to the subject though, allow me to give you a little background of myself. I was born in Aichi, but is not where I spent my childhood. I have been moving every two to three years, following my dad who works as a trading officer. Now that I reflect back, it is beyond belief how I have attended 10 different schools, in 6 different cities. Despite the countless challenges I have faced growing up as so called a ‘third-cultured kid (TCK)’, there is nothing that can replace what I have encountered throughout the journey.
However, there are many questions TCKs have a difficult time answering, ‘what is your first language’, ‘where are your roots’, and ‘what culturally defines you’. The list can be endless. The most complicating, but is asked almost every time during an ice-breakers is – “Where is your home?” Conventionally, home is associated with a single geographical location, a place where you grew up, or a place where you form a strong sense of attachment to. It is a non-changing concept for most people. Having lived in so many different places, I have spent hours, days, and years trying to figure out where that place could be for me, but it took me nowhere.
I talk about this a lot with my friends who also grew up crisscrossing different cultures. I often hear them say, “If we can’t decide on a place to call home, the world can be our home”. However, such framing seems to be oversimplified. I personally believe that home provides all of us with a sense of belonging. Despite the major hardships we have in life, what keeps us driving is home that allows us to acknowledge that somewhere in this world, there is a place that accepts and welcomes us. We cannot gain that kind of security if we conclude by saying that the entire world is our home; the world itself is too big of a community.
That’s when I realized; to me home is a concept that is tightly connected with the people rather than a particular place. Looking back on the past eighteen years, the one and only reason I fell in love with all places I have lived, was because of the people who surrounded me with lots of love and kindness. When I first started attending an international school at an age of seven, all I knew how to say was “What is your name?” Now, I am here being able to call myself a bilingual. So I am thankful for all the teachers who assisted me in overcoming the language barrier, my friends who taught me that I was enough for who I am, and of course, my family who gave me unconditional love, especially during the difficult times. In short, home to me is being close to someone.
There are so many ways to define this beautiful word and I want to let you all know that no one is obliged to pinpoint an exact answer. I have always felt the need to clear the blurred line, but now I know that it is okay to hold on to my own construct. Every individual has their own journeys that are unique in their own way, and that’s what influences our understandings and values in life.
This winter break, I visited Shanghai where I graduated my high school. I was reunited with my family who still lives there, as well as my best friends who currently studies in America but also came back for the holidays. I may not be Chinese, and I may not have lived long enough in China to call it my home, but it was a great feeling to be back home.
S.Y. (Student Staff Leader)