Chris O’Shaughnessy interview and book review of Arrivals, Departures and the Adventures In-Between by Alice Wu

Chris O’Shaughnessy’s new book Arrivals, Departures and the Adventures in-Between is not only entertaining and enjoyable, it includes helpful information and advice for global nomads, third culture kids (TCKs), and others in transition.  His sense of humor pervades his engaging stories about growing up cross-culturally, which provide practical information and advice on important topics such as making friends, transition, identity, and more.

I was glad to meet Chris at the Families in Global Transition 2015 conference, and I asked him about his background and how he decided to write his book.

Chris: “I really wanted to write something not just about TCKs but directly for them. I get to travel quite a bit working as a speaker and I constantly meet TCKs and CCKs who don’t know that there is a wealth of helpful information out there to help them build frameworks and language to understand their experience and make the most of it. I decided to write a book to convey helpful information in a (hopefully) engaging and entertaining way that would be accessible to young TCKs and CCKs.”

What was your favorite part about writing the book? What was challenging about writing it?

Chris: “I think my favorite part was actually getting to go back through and recall the various adventures and stories included in the book. Writing about the adventures meant having to dig deep into my memory for lots of details in order to try and bring the stories alive in a written context.

The fun challenge was figuring out how to convey information in an engaging way. I really believe in the power of stories – we respond well to stories, we remember things better in story form. Accordingly, I really enjoyed figuring out how to weave information into adventures. Once the initial draft was written, I began to see how important and in-depth the review and revision process is… You just don’t realize all the little things that need fixed or could be improved until you have fresh eyes bringing a new perspective.”

How would you describe the book and who is its intended audience?

Chris: “I’d describe the book as adventures laced with lessons and for TCKs, CCKs, ATCKs, and really anyone stepping out to engage in the wider world. I honestly do believe the TCK/CCK experience is more and more becoming everyone’s experience. Learning to live cross-culturally is going to be the norm very soon!”

What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book? Do you have suggestions for how to best utilize it?

Chris: “I hope the book helps people understand the beauty and richness of the cross-cultural experience and how it’s of great benefit to the world at large. I’m also hoping readers with gain an appreciation for their own stories and be able to pick out what they’ve learned along the way to help them overcome the inevitable challenges of life and make the most of the strengths they bring to the adventure.

My hope was to create an entertaining book that also teaches, so I think it should be read to be enjoyed: it’s not a manual or technical document. The book contains personal stories (which are all true!) and hopefully will help the reader draw insight from their own stories as well.”

Do you have any stories you would like to share about writing your book, or about the topics in your book?

Chris: “I have to admit, I’d been planning on, thinking about, and talking about writing a book for a long time (my friends were probably getting sick of hearing about it)… But it was hard to carve out time to actually write it – real life kept throwing things at me that needed my attention. So I resolved to write while I was in transit! I travel a lot and that means I spend a lot of time in planes and airports, so the vast majority of the book was written either at 30,000ft or in various departure areas. I would like to thank London Heathrow, Dallas Fort Worth, Dubai International, and Kuala Lumpur international airports in particular.”

Can you tell about your background and how your background influenced the work you have been doing? 

Chris: “I grew up as a military brat, as did my father, and his father, and my mother moved around quite a bit during her childhood and then continued the trend into adulthood… So I come from a long line of pretty transient people! I have been fortunate to be able to travel ever since childhood and it really is just in my blood – I love getting to explore and can’t imagine ever not being excited by the possibility of new places and people. I’ve worked quite a bit in youth ministry which has brought a lot of opportunity as far as mentoring, volunteering, and walking alongside people through the adventures of life. Every chapter of life has ended up setting up the next – even writing this book – and I can’t wait to see what adventures are still to come.”

Do you identify more with a culture or cultures? Would you describe yourself as a TCK, CCK, or ATCK?

Chris: “I fall into the category of ATCKs and am honored to be in such good company! I identify with the UK (it’s where I collectively have lived the longest) and probably align with it most culturally and as far as values. I also identify with the US (I’ve been around Americans my whole life) and a significant portion of my lifelong friends now live in the US. I also feel a strong connection to the international community at large – it’s got a magical blend of variety and commonality that makes me feel both adventurous and welcome!”

This book is a valuable resource for young people with transcultural backgrounds, as well as parents, teachers, counselors, and others working with them.  It is enjoyable and informative reading for anyone who would like more insight into an internationally mobile lifestyle.

About Alice Wu

Alice Wu makes videos about college age global nomads and third culture kids, is an intercultural consultant, and teaches international students. She enjoys writing about global nomads and TCKs, international families, and intercultural communication.  To know more about Alice’s work, visit https://culturalingua.wordpress.com/

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