Migratory Patterns
#031: When Does Migration Trump National Identity? | Margarita Lukavenko

#031: When Does Migration Trump National Identity? | Margarita Lukavenko

April 22, 2019
Born and raised on Russia's "Fish Tail" island of Sakhalin, Margarita Lukavenko got her first taste of foreign culture when she went to Malaysia as part of an exchange program at 16. Save for her final year of high school, she's been a migrant ever since- first as a student in far-off (and practically foreign) Moscow, and then as an educator and entrepreneur in China. As we discover in our conversation, this constant living outside of her place of origin has caused her to ask fundamental questions about her identity. It's something that happens to many of us, but we rarely talk about it in such an open manner. Leave it to a Russian to state bluntly what the rest of us only hint at.
 
  • Follow Margarita on Instagram to learn more about EduMatters & her work in the field of global education collaboration: @Margarita_GlobalLiving
 
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#030: A Grown-up TCK Raising TCKs & Searching for Community | Dr. Kate Bailey Gardner

#030: A Grown-up TCK Raising TCKs & Searching for Community | Dr. Kate Bailey Gardner

April 15, 2019

When I met Dr. Kate Bailey Gardner in Boston in the mid-1990s she felt, as she says, "Like a bit of a social outcast." The term "TCK" was still new and she was coming to terms with her identity as a kid raised overseas who had moved back to her passport country for college. She's been on a journey to find herself and what "Home" means for her ever since. It's a #MigrationStory that's taken her from Hong Kong & Singapore to Boston, then to Beijing, then back to Boston, then to West Hartford, CT, then, with her children in tow, to Shanghai, and, finally, back to Hong Kong again. Has she finally found her place? Could her place be right back where she started?

 

Listen to episode #021 to hear my interview with Kate's husband, Josh Gardner, and to get the flip-side of this family's migration story. Kate & Josh are an amazing couple and their parallel journeys of self-discovery, both at "home" and abroad, are a microcosm of what millions of other families are going through all around the world.

 

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#029: Building Community with Moishe House and Global Shapers & Becoming Yourself | Abe Sorock

#029: Building Community with Moishe House and Global Shapers & Becoming Yourself | Abe Sorock

April 8, 2019

We humans have a deep need for community- none more so than we humans who are living outside of our places of origin. The power of community organizing is twofold: We not only make ourselves feel like we fit and belong in a place, but it also helps us discover more about ourselves. The overseas journey of my guest this week, Abe Sorock, began as a member of the Moishe House project, which sent him down a road of self-discovery. Did he help to organize the community, or did it organize him? His current with with the Global Shapers project is an extension of this idea- The need for community to help with mentorship. As Abe notes, with younger expats there are usually lots of folks around who are either in your age cohort or who are really senior. There is a shortage of mid-level role-models and advisers. So community is necessary... This current generation has witnessed massive change and has found themselves having to live in ways that nobody has taught them how to live. And this goes double for those of us who are living overseas. Then there's the challenging notion of people who have been outside of the US for the last decade as being "The Last Americans."

Learn more about Moishe House & Global Shapers and find branches near you:
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#028: When Being Your Best Self Requires Being On the Road | Adriana T.

#028: When Being Your Best Self Requires Being On the Road | Adriana T.

April 2, 2019

My good friend Adriana, who I have known since she first moved to China from her native Romania back in 2011, is a person I've always admired. From an early age she stood out from her cohort- people who came of age just as their country emerged from behind the Iron Curtain. She discovered Couchsurfing in its early days and was an active member of the community, constantly hosting visitors from abroad. Those interactions showed her that there was a big, fascinating world out there and she's been exploring it ever since, traveling through countless counties through the last decade. She sat down with me during my recent visit to Shanghai, and we had a deep discussion about the nebulous "thing" that seems to lie within everyone who chooses to migrate. Are we born this way? What triggers the desire to move, to explore ourselves by searching for new opportunities over the horizon?

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#027: “Trailblazers Die.” | PT Black

#027: “Trailblazers Die.” | PT Black

March 25, 2019

It'd be tough to find someone who has had a more successful #MigrationStory than PT Black, but it's also one that you would not expect. He grew up in a famous Boston neighborhood, was able to get into top schools and then launch a career in international business in New York. But after watching the second plane fly into the World Trade Center from his apartment in Brooklyn, he felt like he needed to choose an alternate path. He landed in Shanghai just a few months later. Now, after a career in market research and development that has had him at the forefront of China's historic transformation into a modern world-leading economy, he finds himself reflecting on how he's changed from the "China Guy" to the "Guy Who Knows China," and whether there is a way for him to ever go "home" again.

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Twitter: @zax2000
 
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#026: An A.B.C.’s Sixteen Candles On Uncle Buck’s Day Off | Daphne Cheng

#026: An A.B.C.’s Sixteen Candles On Uncle Buck’s Day Off | Daphne Cheng

March 18, 2019
As a child growing up in the predominantly white, John Hughes-ian suburbs outside Chicago (think Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Breakfast Club and Uncle Buck), Daphne Cheng rebelled against the expectations of her parents' native Chinese culture, but she also didn't identify with her surroundings. She chafed at taking Chinese lessons on weekends and had a tough time fitting in with the people and institutions in the area. This led to her always feeling like an outsider, neither part of her parents' culture, nor fully a part of America. So it's no wonder that today she's one of the incredible "bridge people" in China who are living connections between cultures. And for from not fitting in, she''s discovered a thriving community of fellow American-born Chinese ("ABCs") who, like her, are eager to turn their mixed heritage into a powerful lever that they can use to change the world. 
 
 
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#025: From Raising A TCK to Empty-Nesting Overseas | Amelie Mongrain

#025: From Raising A TCK to Empty-Nesting Overseas | Amelie Mongrain

March 11, 2019
From the very start, Amelie Mongrain has been in places where she had to fit herself into her surroundings, which might be why she says that home is "wherever my two feet are." She's gone from a child of Quebecois parents growing up in rural northeastern Ontario, to a high school exchange student in Turkey, to big city life in Montreal for university, and then to Shanghai right after graduation. Then her real adventure began. From the typical party scene as one of the very few female expats in 1990s Shanghai, to building a business in the textile sector during China's manufacturing boom, to raising a son and then sending him off to university in a "home country" that he'd never lived in, she's done it all. Now she's on a whole new adventure: Empty-Nesting. It's a story of non-stop exploration and personal evolution, where even her chosen career has become a glorified excuse to travel the world and a vehicle for offering mentoring to young professionals in her field- something she never had in her early Shanghai days.
 
Bonus: For more insight into the unique culture of French Canadians in Ontario, check out this great story from the New York Times that was published just a few days after we recorded our interview: Ontario Has Francophones? Oui, Beaucoup, and They’re Angry
 
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Twitter: @zax2000
 
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#024: The Challenges for Strong Women Overseas | Kira Sirois

#024: The Challenges for Strong Women Overseas | Kira Sirois

March 4, 2019
Kira Sirois can kick my ass. At least that's the feeling that I had when we sat down for our chat. It's not that she's mean or puts off an "I'm ready to fight you" vibe. Rather, there's a "solid-ness" to her, an inner strength that demands to be recognized & dealt with. So what happens when a tough-as-nails military brat finds herself butting heads with a machismo-filled culture? Frustration, tat's what. Kira & I talk about her journey from bouncing around the US as a kid to the better part of a decade spent in Hawaii, then to her new life in Tasmania, and how she's done it all while staying true to herself. It's an engaging #MigrationStory filled with lots of twists and turns, and it opened my eyes to the extra level of difficulty that women can face when they strike out on their own. It's something that I've read about and have been able to intellectualize, but I've never sat down and talked with somebody who was able to so passionately communicate the essence of what it means to try to stand your ground when everybody around you just wishes that you'd stop it already.
 
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Twitter: @zax2000
 
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#023: Doing Anything- Except Not Being Yourself | Richard Robinson

#023: Doing Anything- Except Not Being Yourself | Richard Robinson

February 25, 2019
Richard Robinson isn't a guest on this week's show because of his status as a legend in Chinese entrepreneurial circles. Nor is it because we went to the same high school (though about a decade removed from each other). He's on because he represents a phenomenon among many expats that I've noticed within myself: We grasp onto and amplify the cultural traits that connect us to our places of origin. For myself and Richard, who hasn't lived in Boston since he was 18 years old, this still manifests as a distinct regional accent, a love of local sports teams and an identification with the "gritty" and "self-important" attitudes of our shared hometown. And this core identity endures for him even after years spent doing odd jobs all across Europe, Africa and Asia, right through his experiences building companies during he dawn of the social media & e-commerce industries in China, through marriage, divorce, re-marriage and raising a family to mentoring newer entrepreneurs and teaching at a major university in Beijing.
 
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#022: Beating Typhoid & Overcoming the American Dream | Josh Gardner

#022: Beating Typhoid & Overcoming the American Dream | Josh Gardner

February 18, 2019
Migratory Patterns' 2-part Season 2 kick-off continues as I chat with another one of my BFFs from college, Josh Gardner. Josh first traveled to China in the mid 1990s as an anthropology student where he almost died when he caught typhoid while conducting research in rural Yunan province. But this didn't deter him. He came back for a short stint after graduation, and then settled into a life of middle class bliss in West Hartford, CT where he ran a China-based sourcing business & made frequent trips back. But the call of the #ExpatLife never died down, so after over a decade of hard work, during which he achieved the American Dream, he and his family sold everything and moved over to China for good.
 
 
Get in touch with comments, suggestions or interview recommendations:
 
Twitter: @zax2000
 
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