Sometimes things just happen. That’s been my answer whenever I get asked why I started doing a webcast show with the same namesake as this blog. Realistically, I got the itch after being interviewed last January by fellow Third Culture Kid (TCK), webcast host and now friend, Calvin Karuniawan Widjaja, but I never imagined my own show taking off the way it has. Once Covid-19 hit and the world was quarantined, I figured it was the perfect time to try something new. The BenThere concept was simple, keep the focus third culture and interview those that either grew up like I did (outside of their passport country) or have a deep understanding of the overseas lifestyle. I wanted to tell the life stories of each guest and talk about how expat living impacted their lives. I figured there would be laughs, deep conversations and good stories, but I never expected the show to be therapeutic…for me.
I always thought I was alone with certain TCK struggles, especially those that dealt with acclimating back stateside. When you grow up overseas, no matter what front you project to the world, there’s a part of you that always feels out of place even in your passport country. TCK’s can feel comfortable everywhere and yet nowhere, lack a true concept of home, blend into any setting, and generally speaking, adapt to any situation. On the flip side, having friends from all backgrounds and cultures is probably the biggest perk of growing up abroad. Reconnecting with those friendships has been the most gratifying part in starting BenThere. Listening to my former classmates, peers, and fellow TCK’s has opened my eyes in realizing that we have all struggled some and yet succeeded at the same time. We’ve been able to pick up right where we left off in conversation after years of not physically being around each other. Even those guest I didn’t know prior to the interviews, it’s been easy chatting being there’s such an “I get you” feel and that’s exactly what I want the show to continue to be.
By no means is BenThere a perfect show or product. Produced from my home office, there have been WiFi issues (my bad, Sean Mckeon!), sound problems, time zone complications, and unexpected pet interruptions, but every guest has been energetic, upbeat, sincere and brought a sense of passion to every interview. Sometimes the interviews run long , but when someone is sharing their life story, I don’t want to cut things short on a time technicality. The interviews have taught me about taking chances, appreciating each day, following passions, laughing through struggles, perseverance, parenthood, relationships, family, cultural acceptance, fear, friendship, mistakes and healing. We’ve covered the awkwardness of adolescence, language barriers, hardest moves, life moments, and the art of constantly saying goodbye. We’ve also talked about the perks of international schools, multicultural friendships, travel, and the beauty of globetrotting. Needless to say, I’ve finished every interview with a smile on my face and a lot more educated.
The future of the show is to expand into the communities and cultures that have shaped each and everyone of us. We all have have our own stories and experiences that make us unique and make our contributions to this life unique. While the world is a bit chaotic these days, the goal is to unite and appreciate diversity of all kinds. I will continue to have many of those I grew up with on the show, but I’m also going to expand out of my own comfort zone and bring on guests that I don’t know so well that can provide different perspectives and experiences of all kinds of culture.
If you haven’t watched, give it a try. Subscribe on YouTube (the show also goes live on FaceBook). Tell your friends. Let’s see where we can take this because this show is about all of us. These are our stories and stories that need to be told.
YouTube BenThere Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTDXVojE35Y6vtv8qWKCA4g