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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Keeping the "World" in World Cup

I love my multicultural kids.  And having the oldest home for a week brings a lightness to life.  Yes, he's hungry and on his own schedule and opinionated and whenever he is here it is like a whirlwind that draws the rest of us into his orbit.  He's also funny and creative and I love to find him immersed in a book or fixing something or socializing.  He's just a great person to have around. And now that son two is out of his military enclave we can SKYPE which leads to leisurely conversations and sharing pictures and tales of North Africa.  Child three, the only daughter, is a month from graduation, making cookies in the afternoons, spending time with friends, and dreading final class projects which seem to pile up.  Then there's number four, who manages to do homework horizontal in front of the fire and the TV with music in his ears, and then manages to play with passion and insight on the rugby pitch, all-out scoring and tackling and kicking.

The World Cup is an interesting time for a family of TCK's.  None of the teams are from East Africa where we live.  I wondered who my kids would root for, and the list was as follows:  US because you have to root for your passport country, any African country because that's home, any team with a Manchester United player, and then whoever is the underdog.  OK, makes sense.  Football is their sport.  They watch every minute that they can stay awake for.  The last three nights we've had German neighbors over to see their team, Australians to see theirs, and Americans to cheer for the USA.  World Cup is the common topic of conversation, in the hospital as well as the family and the school.

But USA vs. Ghana was, well, complicated.  We took brief naps and got up at 1 am full of anticipation and excitement.  The US went out ahead and we cheered; Ghana equalized and we cheered again.  And as the night went on, one of the lived-in-Africa-all-his-life kids became more and more conflicted in his loyalties.  First he just wanted a good match, but the more the American friends jumped on the America bandwagon, the more he gravitated back to the Africa one.  In a crowd of Ghanaians, I suspect they would all be American.  In a crowd of Americans, they aren't quite so clear.  I watched the dynamic evolve, a little uncomfortable, wishing that friends could understand what it means to be an American by parentage and an African by experience.

The World Cup is about world talent, world football, a peculiarly unifying event in which country loyalty is heightened and yet at the same time muted.  When home is complex and not limited to one continent, when interests span borders, the World Cup becomes a showcase of world-thinking.  So we keep cheering for the US and Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire and Nigeria, Costa Rica and the Netherlands.  Places where we have friends.  

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