The Libyan Uprising

Checked on her blogger pals in Libya (KhadijaTeri, Highlander @ From the Rock, Anglo-Libyan). Glad to hear that they’re Okay and living one day at a time. Am following your posts / updates on the situation in Tripoli.

Highlander, we are very concern about the situation in Libya. It’s nothing like the uprising in Egypt! We never expected this to happen, the atrocities against ones own people. I personally have no concerns for Libya’s leader & his followers, but I can’t accept and abhor his actions towards those innocent people! Yes, he is not democratic, but oh please, have a heart at least! Is he so full of himself that he thinks he can go on forever? Well, I guess those brave / courageous countrymen of yours have proved him wrong. Can’t blame them for putting their lives at stake in search of freedom.

Am sorry for being so emotional, for I feel for your people. Yes, I was there long time ago, although for a very short while, only 3 1/2 years. But, I’ve seen the suffering, the propaganda, I love Libya too much for it has opened my eyes to the world. It has lead me to appreciate what’s out there. Can’t believe I’m shedding tears at this present moment. That’s how deep my love is for this adopted country of mine.


Remember this?


Adnan wa Lina (Adnan and Lina) @ Future Boy Conan, what ever the title may be it is a cartoon produced by a Japanese Animation Company and was shown in Libya back in the mid 80’s.

It is set in mid 2008, humankind were at war (how ironic) which has brought destruction to Earth. Escape was near impossible, only a few managed to survive when their spaceship landed on an island . Years gone by and a boy was born by the name of Conan @ Adnan, one of the two inhabitants of the island left. The other is his grandfather. Not long after he meets a girl by the name of Lana @ Lina and their adventure begins from that moment. (Is this what he (the creator) sees? The end of the Earth, end of human race?)

It was translated into Arabic and I did watch all 26 episodes without fail, although my understanding of the language was next to none. I wasn’t the only one at home who was hooked on the show. So were my parents. Partly because there were limited programs to watch or aired then besides the daily propaganda. We recorded the cartoon and hope to share the great storyline with family members once we return to our motherland. The series was indeed a hit!


20 years has passed, it is still being aired and watched by millions (including my dad who is watching it right this moment on Animax, in English this time) all across the globe. It still manages to grab the interest of its audience of all ages and languages.

Memories … for Romana

What’s left with me are only memories, the objects can no longer be seen or found. Most have disappeared with time and travels. What’s left are only the vivid scenes in my mind and heart. How I dream to turn back time and gather all my belongings which I may have discarded on my journey home. Life taken for granted, thinking one will come back one day, how ungrateful one can be!

Memories … what’s left of it …


Where art thou?

The OCS Alumni web page is currently unaccessible due to some unforeseen reasons, it has been difficult for us to stay & keep in touch with the rest of the Alumni. The last news or message I’ve heard was from Reem Ben Halim aka Ocsgal. Reem, I’ve replied to your message, hope you’ll have a nice trip back to Libya. Do remember to snap a lot of pics of the school and Tripoli if or when you have the time. Plus if you do meet up with any of our friends or ex-teachers, do send them my regards.

What about the rest?

  • Üner – he is lecturing in Greece
  • Lana, Ban, Erin, Dimple Shah – in the UK
  • Arvind & Parisa are in the States
  • Timur – in Egypt
  • Asim – back in Pakistan
  • David – in Sweden
  • Yakub – Turkey
  • Cristina – Switzerland
  • Omar, Sheba – Canada
  • Dong Young – Korea?
  • Reem – Norway
  • Evelyna & Turis – Malaysia


Ferial, Claire, Sevgi, Miroslav, Mikko, Hana Hilal, Hana Nafati, Ursula, Aeysha, Riham, Awet.

We’ve missed:

Elena Gent – You will always be remembered.

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Looking at my little cousin breaking fast reminds me of myself at her age or maybe a few years older. Kids these days have been trained to fast since the tender age of 5 or 6. Some would fast for half a day for a few days or weeks, it all depends. Some would fast the whole day. I for one, didn’t start fasting till I was about 7 @ 8, I guess. It was a very difficult start for me. I was a very sick & weak child, I had to endure such pains for days. I had childhood asthma and upset stomach. So, most of my primary years I would fast for half a day.

I remember fasting during the summer of 86. It was my first year studying at OCS. School was on, so were our PE classes. I could recall our coach teaching us about baseball. Imagine playing on sand under the hot summer sun. We were asked to bat while our friends would take our place to run to the bases. I insisted on running. Coach was surprised but I managed to convince him that I would not faint and he does not need to worry about me. Well, I ran a few rounds, didn’t faint as no one knew that once I reach home I’ll have my lunch! ;P I cheated!

In the evening, mom and dad would go to the market, I would tag along, we would buy fruits like tangarine, fresh dates, figs, watermelon, honeydew and/or grapes. Whatever is available. We would break our fast with dates and milk or mineral water. we then proceed with the main dish wish consist of rice and home cooked dishes. In fact, we’ve experienced breaking fast in total darkness.

Third Culture Kid

Were you one?

Third Culture Kids (abbreviated TCKs) is a term for children who have lived a significant portion of their lives in a country that is not their passport country, usually because of parents’ work obligations. A synonym for this is global nomad. Examples include military brats, the children of diplomats, children of business expatriates (“business brats”), international school educators’ kids, and Missionary Kids.

TCKs share some common characteristics amongst the sub categories such as multilingualism, tolerance for other cultures, a never-ending feeling of homesickness for their adopted country (it is very true) and a desire to remain in close contact with friends from their adopted country as well as other TCKs that they have grown up with. (I do still keep in touch with some of them)

Many TCKs take years to readjust to their home countries and often suffer a reverse culture shock on their return to their homeland; and many choose to enter careers that allow them to travel frequently or live overseas. There is a growing number of online resources to help TCKs deal with issues as well as stay in contact with each other. Recently, blogs have become a helpful way for TCKs to interact.

The term third culture kid was coined by Ruth Hill Useem in the early 1960s. She and her husband studied children who grew up in two or more cultures, including their own children, and termed them simply “third culture kids”. Their idea was that children from one culture who live in another culture become part of a “third culture” that is more than simply a blend of home and host cultures.

Children and adults of the third culture share similar identities. Useem defined a third culture kid as

“[A] person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The third culture kid builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the third culture kid’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of the same background.” (Pollock & van Reken, 2001, p. 19)

Two circumstances are key to becoming a third culture kid: growing up in a truly cross-cultural world, and high mobility. By the former, Pollock and van Reken mean that instead of observing cultures, third culture kids actually live in different cultural worlds. By mobility, they mean mobility of both the third culture kid and others in their surrounding. The interplay between the two is what gives rise to common personal characteristics, benefits, and challenges. TCKs are distinguished from other immigrants by the fact that TCKs do not expect to settle down permanently in the places where they live.

Third culture kids grow up in a genuinely cross-cultural world. While expatriates watch and study cultures that they live in, third culture kids actually live in different cultural worlds. Third culture kids have incorporated different cultures on the deepest level, as to have several cultures incorporated into their thought processes. This means that third culture kids not only have deep cultural access to at least two cultures, this also means that thought processes are truly multicultural. That, in turn, influences how third culture kids relate to the world around them, and makes third culture kids’ thought processes different even from members of cultures they have deep-level access to. TCKs also have certain personal characteristics in common. Growing up in the third culture rewards certain behaviors and personality traits in different ways than growing up in a single culture does, which results in common characteristics. Third culture kids are often tolerant cultural chameleons who can choose to what degree they wish to display their background.

As a result, Pollock and van Reken argue, third culture kids develop a sense of belonging everywhere and nowhere. Their experiences among different cultures and various relationships makes it difficult for them to have in-depth communication with those who have not experienced similar conditions. While third culture kids usually grow up to be independent and cosmopolitan, they also often struggle with their identity and with the losses they have suffered in each move. Barbara Schaetti has proposed a developmental model for third culture kid identity development based on earlier identity literature, primarily on nigrescence, in which a number of different mechanisms are explained for the wide range of identity outcomes that third culture kids may have. Some may feel very nationalistic toward one country, while others call themselves global citizens.

source: Wikipedia

Would I consider myself a former TCK? I don’t know but I do admit that I share similar characteristics as mentioned by Useem.

I would consider myself very lucky as I had experienced different cultures since I was a toddler (I was only 2 when dad dragged mom & me to Washington DC to pursue his Master’s Degree. We lived in Arlington for a year and a half). I learnt my first English words there by watching Sesame Street every morning after having my breakfast of milk and cereal. I still have that pic of me sitting on a chair in the kitchen, my hand on the table. By three I could spell sweets etc!

When we returned home, my parents were criticised by my relatives (no, not my uncle and aunts but my distant relatives) for allowing me to call them Mama, Papa, Grandpa & Grandma. They have set in their heads that their children could only call them Ibu, Ayah, Atok, Nenek. My parents couldn’t care less, they ignored those harsh comments. At the mere age of 4 I was sent to Kindergarten as Mom feels that I shouldn’t waste my precious time staying at home playing. I didn’t spend my time there to play, we actually learn arithmetics! Yup, that’s true!

Fast Forward, mid 1985
Dad was posted to Tripoli. Where did you say? Tripoli, no, not Tripoli, Lebanon but Tripoli, Libya. Never heard of that place? Well, too bad for you. It’s a beautiful place to live.

We were there for 3 and a half years. Living by the sea, enjoying the view of ships sailing in and out of the harbour (port actually). That was all I did for a few months while waiting for the new school year to start, which was in early Sept. I tried to occupy my time as I was feeling home sick. I left my heart back home, physically I was there with my parents. This was the first time living with mom & dad (I was brought up by my grandparents, they lived under the same roof, I didn’t have a close relationship with my parents then).

We moved house to an area called Hai Andalus. The villa was spacious, big enough for a small family of three! We could climb the stairs which connects the main floor to the next level which is an open area, Mediterranean style. There is no such thing as tiled roof. I remember having picnics with family and friends during the summer and enjoy the view of the night sky. Stars twinkling bright. From time to time I would wish upon a star and wonder if my wish would come true!

Summer ends and autumn begins, school is open, kids rushing in and out of classrooms. One of them, a girl from a far away land enjoying her lunch with the rest of her friends; Claire that Brit girl, Elena who speaks fluent French, Hana N a Libyan, Christina from Bolivia and Aeysha a Pakistani Brit. That girl is me.

I was introduced to people from all corners of the world, places I have never heard before such as Eritria and Bolivia. I have never known such beautiful people and languages they speak. I was enthralled by them. I was no longer the shy and timid girl. I go to parties and dance with kids that I don’t even know. I played soccer and floor hockey after school and weekends. I enjoyed going to school, enjoyed learning Social Studies – this was when I was first introduced to the world of mythology – Zeus, Pandora’s Box, Thor etc. It also taught me about the Civilizations, about Alexander the Great.

Halloween, Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day etc….would you have known about all these if you were living in your motherland? Nah, I doubt it! Have you taken part in an International Day parade?

3 and half years past quickly, dad was called back to fill a vacant post. I was reluctant to return home to continue my studies in a national school. I hated the syllabus. I now know what it is like to study in an international school, I dread going back home, wearing that blue dress and white blouse again. But I have got no choice, no one will listen to me! You wouldn’t believe how heartbroken I was once again. This time I had to leave Libya. I had to leave my friends. I lost contact with most of them. But I was able to reconnect with some through our Alumni. Thank God for the Internet.

Life wasn’t easy for me when I got home, I had difficulties speaking and understand my national language. Mom did take the initiative teaching me Malay while I was abroad, but we spoke English most of the time at home! Hence, the problem communicating. My new school friends couldn’t understand my simple Malay. Who cares? I hated my life, I hated that I had to return home. I couldn’t master the language even till now. My friends used to tease me for my accent (when I speak in my mother tongue). I can’t help it and I don’t want to change anything! I am what I am and I am happy to be me!

Worth the read: A 3rd Culture Kid’s Story

A little bit of History

I have no idea who wrote this, but I found it at the web site. Here is some information about OCS.

The Martyrs School (formerly Oil Companies School) is located three miles west of Tripoli. The school was originally designed to meet the educational needs of the major oil companies in Tripoli. However, in recent years, the school has been opened to expatriates not affiliated with the oil industry. The school was founded in 1958 and offers an American-style, coeducational education from pre-kindergarten to tenth grade. Arabic and French are taught as foreign languages.

Situated on a five-acre campus, the Martyrs School consists of 11 buildings, 47 classrooms, a 14,000 volume library, 2 science labs, a computer lab, auditorium, infirmary, gymnasium, and tennis courts. Students are grouped according to their abilities, with an accelerated study program available for gifted students. The school year lasts from September to June.

In addition to its traditional curriculum, the Martyrs School offers an extracurricular program that includes gymnastics, computers, yearbook, school newspaper, field trips, drama, student council, soccer, tennis, floor hockey, basketball, softball, volleyball, and numerous social clubs. The school’s mailing address is P.O. Box 860, Tripoli, S.P.L.A.J. (Libya).

additional info:

The International School of Martyrs (ISM), Tripoli:

This school, established in 1958, was originally named the Oil Companies School, it then became the College of US Aggression Martyrs (CUSAM – commonly known as the American School) in the 1970s and finally became the International School of Martyrs. It is occasionally referred to as the American School of Tripoli.
The ISM is now owned by the Libyan government. The school used to follow the US curriculum, but was forced to move away from this under sanctions. The school has since followed the Canadian and now the Irish curriculum in an attempt to circumvent government legislation and offer students a qualification in English. The Irish Leaving Certificate is taken by many students, but IGCSE and A-levels are also now studied here. There are a number of British/European teachers employed at this schools – a fact reflected in the high fees. The average fee is 5000LD per annum – making this the most expensive school in Tripoli.