I can’t say that I often get a flash of insight about my own life when watching a film, but I did the first time I saw ‘The Road Home’ at the Families in Global Transition Conference a couple of years ago.
The plot summary on the DVD case tells us “Bullied for insisting he is British despite his Indian heritage, ten-year old Pico runs away from a boarding school in the Himalayas, determined to return to his home in England. As he journeys through a landscape unknown to him Pico encounters others who mistake him for an Indian boy, forcing him to face the painful truth that the world does not see him the way he sees himself.”
The film mirrors Director, Rahul Gandotra’s, own struggle with his identity, a common issue for Third Culture Kids and his Director’s commentary on the DVD version is well worth watching, once you’ve seen the movie.
Although I’m not a TCK, the notion that the world doesn’t see me the way I see myself lit up a large light bulb in my head. I immigrated to Canada from the UK in my mid-twenties, took up citizenship as soon as I could and like many immigrants worked fervently to “become Canadian.” I adopted Canadian English, learned to cross-country ski and bought a BBQ for my back yard :p. But the one thing I never mastered was a Canadian accent.
So 17 years later when we started travelling again I discovered that, amongst the English speaking expat community at least, I was instantly pegged as British as soon as I opened my mouth. Even the locals saw me that way sometimes. And yet that wasn’t how I wanted to be seen. I was Canadian dammit. I’d worked hard to become Canadian. My son was a born-in-Canada Cannuck. Why couldn’t they see I wasn’t British anymore? I felt a lot like a TCK when asked the question “where are you from?” “Well, I was born in England, but …” I would begin.
Thirty years after swearing my oath of allegiance to Canada, watching The Road Home made me realize what I should have known all along, I am both Canadian AND British. I don’t have to stop being British in order to be Canadian. Just like Pico, I don’t have to choosem; it’s OK to be both. Duh. Boy, It certainly took a long time for that penny to drop.
The film, which I highly recommend is now available for purchase or rent. You’ll find all the information on the The Road Home website.