“Globalization refers to the widening, deepening and speeding up of global interconnection, " an assertion which, begs further elaboration. Swedish journalist, Thomas Larson states that globalization is “the process of world shrinkage, of distances getting shorter and things moving closer.” It is a movement wherein integration is fostered and development is transparent internationally. On an ever globalizing world, it becomes simpler to analyze ones changes, perceptions, and origins.
I am a product of globalization. It has brought me insight, fluidity, and yet also added perplexity. It keeps me infinitely curious of the world around me, propelling me to new allegiances within broader networks of cultures and identities, connections that would have previously been impossible. While my principal influences are rooted in Haitian culture which in itself is a “boullion” (a local soup, prepared as a stew which usually includes meat and seasonal vegetables, & thick noodles) of sorts, a compilation of behaviors, beliefs and dogmas characteristic of a number Europe, Africa, and Native American societies, I am myself now a part of a more global “boullion”, one whose ingredients come from a limitless mix of spaces and places.
I grew up in a country entrenched in a culture that was only partially my own. And I say this because throughout my life I have always identified with more than one culture.
While my parent’s roots are predominantly characterized through their Haitian identity, they decided upon my conception that I should inhabit more. I was born in the United States and grew up in Haiti. They saw opportunity and chose to seize it. As a tiny girl they enrolled me in one of the only American accredited institutions our country had to offer. This scholastic establishment afforded me the opportunity of an education which complimented not only academic expectancies of the country I inhabited but those which of wider world. We were by definition a third culture kids, children who grow up amongst many different worlds.
In the early 1950’s, American researcher, Ruth Useem coined the term third culture kid or TCK “ referring to children who accompany their parents into another society.” I had teachers with both a local and international understandings of issues, an experience which afforded me the occasion to cultivate an attitude of curiosity. My classmates, while some where locals, many more had affinities to cultures and peoples which far differed from my norm. This mélange of truths, realities, and lives lived opened my core to the vast possibilities of human experience. This opening , was also a loss of innocence as I thought would never find a culture to singularly call my own.
My upbringing became an elaborate tapestry of truths, values and behaviors . As I grew into myself, I started to understand the significance of my peculiarities, learned traits, openness and curiosities. But where do my affinities lie? If you were to ask me who I am, sometimes I can’t help but smile. I am Christina Victoria Jean-Louis. What does this woman carry with her? There is really so much to me. I am Haitian. I am American. I am curious. I am creative... the list continues.
But which of these facets make up my core identity? As I walk through the streets of Port-au-Prince in many circles, I will always be the “blan.” (white/foreigner) while in the state, always labeled as the Haitian-American. Will I ever be Haitian or American enough? For a long time I believed this lie. For a long time I struggled with developing a sense of belonging, commitment and attachment to any culture. This toyed with my self-esteem and identity.
I recently came to the realization that I have been asking myself the wrong question all along. It was never about if I was enough, it was always about embracing my multifaceted being. I am cross-culturally competent; a citizen of the world. Those who identify with more than one culture know exactly what I mean.
Taking the best of each of these cultures, values and truth to better myself and the world around me is what we are walking towards. At least that is what I believe. Limiting myself to the constructs and conceptions of others is crippling. It keeps me from connecting with others, cultivating my curiosity, and embracing myself.