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Worlds Apart: A Third Culture Kid's Journey Paperback – February 26, 2018
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[Worlds Apart] tells the captivating story of Marilyn Gardner's childhood as a 'third culture kid', raised by her Christian, American missionary parents in the heart of Pakistan. Gardner's eloquent story of the trials, tribulations, and lessons of growing up as a bridge between these rich cultures serves as an important lens through which Americans and Pakistanis can learn more about one another and their important long-term partnership in a time when the gap between the two nations seems to be growing ever larger.... Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University, Washington, D.C
From the Author
While my book Between Worlds - Essays on Culture and Belonging is a series of reflections on growing up overseas and then living overseas as an adult, this new book Worlds Apart - A Third Culture Kid's Journey is a memoir and more chronological account of those years from birth to age 18. There is no single story in the third culture kid narrative, rather we each have our own unique stories, but my hope is that readers can connect with my story and some of the common themes of a third culture identity shaped by many places and events. My hope is also that readers will see the country of Pakistan in a much more nuanced way than the mainstream media portrays. I am ever grateful to Pakistan - Land of the Pure - for her never ending hospitality, her beauty, and her love.
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Gardner writes in a captivating way about being raised in Pakistan—and while this book reads like both a travelogue and a memoir, complete with the sights, sounds, and smells of a ‘foreign’ culture, "Worlds Apart" really wants to reflect on the third culture kid experience. What’s it like to grow up in a place that’s ‘foreign’ to your parents—people who, because they are missionaries, government officials, military personnel, or business people, move overseas and raise their kids in one or more countries outside their ‘passport culture’—but also never fully ‘home’ for you?
"Worlds Apart" joins other similarly-themed books in examining an experience that is both shared by many and misunderstood by many. As such, it offers comfort and clarity: if you’re a TCK, you’ll resonate with Gardner’s descriptions of boarding school, ‘strange’ food, coming to grips with learning new languages and cultures, and a steady stream of ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’; if you’re friends with or related to a TCK, you’ll get a better grip on why they can figure out international travel but not know how to drive, or why they want to go somewhere else or do something different every couple of years.
I came across Gardner’s writing through an article on "saudade"—a Portuguese term for the homesickness people feel even when they’re around those they love. That led me to this book, which I’ll be recommending to TCKs and those in their orbit. "Worlds Apart" is a great resource for appreciating the TCK experience—and a trustworthy companion for jogging memories that have lain dormant for too long.