Set Apart

Monday, March 3, 2014

*This post was written by my fourteen-year-old sister; sharing her thoughts on being adopted into a white American family, growing up as a third culture kid, and moving to the United States.

Written by Grace Ingram

Bethany and Grace (2006)
As a third culture kid, looking back upon my earlier years, I've realized I've lived two childhoods. First, there was the African childhood, which was more free and exciting. A typical day for my siblings and I would usually consist of our homeschooling lessons and outdoor play. On some occasions, we would accompany my dad into the village where we would engage in all sorts of fun with the local kids. In the summer and holidays, we might cruise out to Kruger National Park or visit a family game resort for the weekend. Some of my most favorite trips were going to MK camp; also known as Third Culture Kid Mania. This was a yearly rendezvous for African Missionaries and their kids. Though kids weren't included in the meetings, we had our own fun. There we were able to greet old friends and meet new friends just like us.

In South Africa, being an adopted black child integrated into an American white family, was no rare thing. We knew several kids like us and never thought much of it.  There were even quite a few at MK Camp. As we became a part of the American lifestyle, transitioning into a new culture was a bit tricky.  We didn't see as many interracial families and people didn't always perceive us well. Actually, I don't think even my sister and I understood who we were for a while. We had been raised in a white home, but didn't recognize ourselves as white and though we were black, we didn't associate ourselves with the African American community. Torn between blue and yellow, we became Green

At first, public school was quite rough, but we eventually found our way around and grew to fit in. Like Bethany, sharing our story was a part of who we were and we loved doing it. Talking about ourselves and who we were was one of the ways we held onto our background and early memories.  For us being so young, coming to America was an open experience and adventure. We had no idea where Florida was or what it had to offer, but we were excited. Who knew the future held Walt Disney World, television with more than 3 channels, and free refills?! Yet at the same time, though we had experienced many new things, the American lifestyle also took some of our previous freedoms away. We didn't find ourselves outside as much and often became consumed in homework and other activities.  Other times we would be wrapped up in homesickness; wishing for Rooibos tea and rusks or our closest African friends. In the six in a half or so that we've lived here, I think I've finally become accustomed and used to the American lifestyle. Though true, like Bethany and many other third culture kids, I still desire the itch to travel and still in some cases find myself torn between two cultures. Even still, I've grown to love them both and proudly see myself as set apart.

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