The changing face of Doha
A friend of mine, obsessed with the Third Culture Kid, movement got me thinking the other day about identity and belonging. Although I am a TCK, I had never heard of this until a year ago. It was this friend that introduced me to the phenomenon, and when she did I finally realised that I had found my people!
Being a teacher, there are moments when I wonder how my students are getting on, and I don’t mean with their school work, I mean with life- living in a place that’s not their ‘home’. I know that I coped, it was the best thing that could have happened to me, but I do look at some of them and wonder what impact being here, or being anywhere other than “home” is having on them.
When I was a little girl, I was very quiet, shy and had barely any friends. I remember hating school; doing PE would make me nervous, being asked to speak out in class would make me nervous; lunch time would make me nervous. Everything made me nervous. Everything. I didn’t feel like I was good at anything, I felt like I never really belonged. I was on the outside looking in and I had no idea how to change that.
One day, my parents told me that we were going to move. Nothing too strange about that. But, we weren’t moving to a different town, we were moving to another country, a country that I’d never heard of. A country that my parents had never really heard of. We were moving to Qatar. Where?
Qatar. A place that is now on the global radar for many reasons…art, culture, sport, oil and gas, Al Jazeera… but when my parents told me and my brothers we had to get a map. I’ll never forget that. This is mostly because I didn’t know how to feel, it wasn’t like I was really leaving any close friends, but I was beginning to settle into the school I was in. At that time, in my opinion, it was simply bad timing on my parents part. How could they take me away from my school and my comfort zone to a country that no one had ever heard of? Ever.
In short, it was the best thing my parents could have ever done for me. For that, I’m eternally grateful.
Taking a quiet, shy girl out of the Scottish countryside and placing her in the middle of the arabian desert was the beginning of what I will call my awakening. Putting me in a transient community was what made me come out of my shell. A group of kids who were used to friends coming and going were immediately accepting of me and wanted to be friends. This was a foreign concept for me. Immediately I belonged.
TCK’s will understand this, it’s hard to put into words how this sense of belonging came about. But, it did, and it was the start of me becoming me. So, when I look at my students as they sit in class doing their work I wonder how many of them are like me? How many of them will return in years to come because of a strange pull to the place, to find that sense of belonging.