Elizabeth Rice talks about her memoir, Rituals of Separation

I wrote Rituals of Separation as a love song to my childhood in the country of South Korea, and as an exploration of issues of belonging and cultural identity.

I wrote Rituals of Separation as a love song to my childhood in the country of South Korea, and as an exploration of issues of belonging and cultural identity. South Korean artist Minouk Lim once said, in reference to her art, “Today, under the changes caused by globalization, places are counted only as space; individuals are merely a resource or networking. Nietzsche was said to have wept as he embraced a downtrodden horse, but I want to weep, embracing places. Nevertheless, I also want to fight against the sense of powerlessness caused by melancholy, whether it is the feeling that overwhelmed Nietzsche, or any other kind. So I am inventing rituals for, and keeping records of, moments of separation.”

As I thought about the long period of grief I went through after my family left South Korea, I was struck by this idea of the “powerlessness caused by melancholy.” For many years I was stuck in grief and homesickness. Writing the book was, for me, a “ritual of separation,” to not only make a record of, but to acknowledge the lasting impact of that childhood and that country on me, to understand why that moment of separation, the day we left Korea, became such a pivotal before and after moment.

I also wrote Rituals of Separation to make a record of that time. To remember what happened in Korea at that pivotal juncture in my family’s history and the country’s history, when South Korea was still recovering from a horrific war that divided the nation into two, industrializing at a rapid pace, and seeing the burgeoning of a democracy movement that would eventually lead to the toppling of a long line of dictators. I wrote the book for the many people who, like me, have felt the deep loneliness of non-belonging, who understand that nostalgia for home doesn’t always manifest itself in a quaint feeling of longing, but can feel like an affliction. I wrote the book to find healing. As I say at the end of the first chapter, “After we left Korea, I balanced precariously between two lives, unsure how to go back and unable to move forward. I had to come to terms with all I had seen in those years. I had to look into the ways of the people and places that formed me and find myself, like a pebble sorted from rice. And I learned to pick up the pieces of an unrooted adulthood time and time again. For what is lost can’t always be recovered. Sometimes the only way to move on is to learn to let go, to be deeply grateful for what we had, to know we will never be the same for what we have seen. To learn that maybe, just maybe, our fractured parts do, after all, make a whole.

Tanya Crossman Talks Parallel Lives

MisunderstoodTanya Crossman, author of Misunderstood, discusses the culture gap between #TCKs and their parents.

“Something I’ve heard a lot of expat parents say is that their whole family is ‘in it together’ or that they are ‘called’ together. The basic assumption is that all members of the family go abroad and live overseas together – they are bonded by the same experience. When I hear this, however, I think two things:

First, I am so glad you and your kids are on the same team!

But, are you aware that you aren’t sharing the same experience?”

More from Tanya | About Misunderstood

Author Kathleen Gamble talks about her expat experience

Expat AlienKathleen Gamble, author of Expat Alien talks about her adventures on Thirdeyemom.

‘I am what you might call a “reverse” expat.  I was born in Burma and lived almost my entire life outside my passport country until it was time to be sent off to college.  My father worked in international agriculture and we lived in Mexico, Colombia, and Nigeria.  I went to boarding school in Texas and Switzerland.  We weren’t expats because my parents were looking for a better job or because they wanted a change.  They really believed in what they were doing and hoped they could have an influence on making the world a better place.  After they had been at it a few years they realized they weren’t going to change the world but their philosophy was if they could help just one person to have a better life, it was worth the trouble.’

More on Thirdeyemom | About Expat Alien

Jack Scott’s Expat Glossary

Springtime author, Jack Scott, spent four years in Turkey and started an irreverent narrative about his new life. Quite by chance, his blog became one of the most popular on that side of the Aegean. This led directly to his best-selling memoir, Perking the Pansies and the sequel, Turkey Street. To add a little descriptive colour to his writing, Jack devised or purloined some new words and phrases to depict the numerous variants of the expat species he encountered along the way. Jack’s tongue was firmly in his cheek.

You can read Jack’s Expat Glossary here.