Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Road Home - The Professional DVD

Several weeks ago I talked about the Oscar-shortlisted independent film, “The Road Home” produced by fellow TCK Rahul Gandotra.  More recently I had the opportunity to see the professional version of the DVD.

I would like to think that every international school has a kindly staff counselor whose main focus is the adjustment of its students.  (If they don’t they should!)  Kids at these schools are mostly transient, moving in for a year or two, and then leaving.  They are Third Culture Kids, with their own stories, their own personalities and their own struggles for identity and belonging.  Each of these hypothetical counselors should have the professional version of “The Road Home” as an integral part of his or her reference library. The DVD, which is available for purchase on the website www.roadhomefilm.com, offers commentaries by two of the most renowned scholars and authors about Third Culture Kids:  Ruth Van Reken, a co-author of “Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds” and Heidi Tunberg, a licensed psychologist who has worked for 15 years with TCKs and has written several articles about their journeys.

The first commentary is about the film itself.  The two women take us deeper into the mind of Pico, the young Indian boy who grew up in England.  They clarify what is happening to him on a deeper level, why he is behaving the way he is behaving.  They explain his reactions, his confusion and his dilemma, looking Indian on the outside, but being English on the inside.  They talk about each of the peripheral characters in the film, and how they add to the narrative.

In the second commentary, also played with the film running in the background, the two women discuss in detail the TCK experience and its mantra: “[A] sense of belonging is with others with shared experiences.”  They each touch on their own personal stories; Heidi talks about her experience as a freshman in college, back in her passport country, and the dreaded question: “Where are you from?” She also relates the story of a young man in college, a TCK, who gained a reputation as a “player”.  He connected on a deeper, emotional level with many girls, many of whom were under the mistaken impression that he was their boyfriend. The truth, however, was that he, like many TCK’s, had learned to connect with others quickly and deeply, because they grew up knowing that many relationships are temporary and short-lived.  For obvious reasons this was received very differently on his American college campus.

Filmmaker Rahul Gandotra
The professional version offers password-protected access to a comprehensive list of resources for educators and parents of TCKs: books, websites, articles and children’s books covering topics such as moving overseas, and raising children internationally.  Each category is color-coded to designate the audience for which it is useful.  Furthermore, the purchase of the DVD also includes public screening rights to groups of any size.  Add to all this a discussion sheet for students, parents and educators, and you have a one-stop, invaluable resource.

When you consider that a textbook or scholarly journal may run in the hundreds of dollars, at $79.00 the professional version of “The Road Home” is more than worth its cost.  It would behoove all international educators and college counselors to consider adding this short but powerful film to their collections.  It will pay for itself tenfold in the valuable insights it brings to the TCK and those who care for them.

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