Living in between countries

Following a piece I read on third culture kids or as they’re called in Libya double shafras, I began thinking of the numerous conversations I’ve had with friends on fitting in. In my case, I was born and raised in America but have some siblings born in Libya. I spent most of first and fifth grade in Libya and visited often. I don’t fit in in Libya. I’m too international for Arizona and in Cairo I feel like i’m stuck between generations of something lost. If I ride in a taxi I silently pray he won’t be listening to Om Kalthoum and quickly ask him to change the station when he plays that unbearable clamorous folk sound that should try the patience of any sane adult.

It’s my fourth time visiting Cairo and second time as an adult working on Libya related projects. What I like most about Cairo is the freedom of movement. Aside from the horrendous traffic nothing prevents you from going where you want to go. People are friendly and there’s an order in the chaos of it all. In 2011, I organized a tweetup or political disuccion and met with activists from different countries and walks of life–we all united in Cairo. Here at Alwasat newspaper in Cairo, Libyans from different circumstances and geographical regions of the world work and laugh together. There’s something about Egyptian camaraderie that is infectious. I think thirdculture kids feel it towards each other. How could we not when societies like to smush all our talent and diversity into a tiny glass?

Hats off to Egypt but I think it’s also time we tip our hats to third culture kids. We’re the ones who despite feeling awkward continue to reach out to others, in our work, travels, or daily life. If witnessing a war has taught me anything, it’s that tolerance must be present before peace or harmony. I’m convinced that third culture kids are as capable as anyone else in understanding the need for tolerance, even though they often face intolerance themselves. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdoo attack in Paris, and the downright racist and Islamophobic media spree that followed, lets remember that tolerance is not defined by your passport, political affiliation, or church, but by the way you decide to see the world.


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