Good morning, good mooooooorning! I don’t know about you, but we, the Admissions Office summer interns, like to sing our way through early weekday mornings. We are all looking forward to a summer filled with many games of Contact, delicious food, Pioneer Valley adventures, competitions to be the funniest person in the room, achieving goals, and many, many, many tours.
Pardon me; I’ve forgotten to properly introduce myself! I’m Maria Kirigin, a rising junior from…well, let me explain. My upbringing is a little geographically complicated, so when people ask me where I’m from, I tend to just say ‘Bolivia’ to spare us both a long story, but now that I’ve got you all nice and seated and reading my blog (oh, the power!), I can indulge in all the details:
I was born in La Paz, Bolivia, a beautiful city in the mountains. I could look out my window and see the red Andes every day. I lived there until I was 7 years old, long enough to throw water balloons during Carnaval and attend pre-school and first grade in the German school in town. When I was 7, my parents’ jobs led to the first of my family’s nomad lifestyle.
We moved to Managua, Nicaragua, where I continued my education in another German school—though the main teaching was in Spanish, the school was under a German education system and we all had to take beginning German language classes. Really, we just learned the colors and how to sing “Bruder Jakob”.
We stayed in Nicaragua for two years and then moved to Georgia – nope, not the “Peach State” in the South, but the Republic of Georgia. The only non-Georgian school in Tbilisi was an international school. So, at 9 years old, in ex-Soviet Russia, I finally learned English. There wasn’t much to do – most TV was in Russian or Georgian and I wasn’t allowed to walk around the city on my own – so I spent most of my time reading books and playing GaGa Ball (yep, it’s a thing!).
After two years in Georgia, we moved to Amman, Jordan, where I continued my education in an American school. There, I took a new interest in theater and began writing my own short stories. Also, we went to see the Pyramids for Christmas.
I ended up spending the last three years of high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, attending a small Catholic school where I was among the only three or so international students. By some odd chance, I learned about Amherst College, and though most of my classmates thought it was some small school in Ohio, I applied and came out east to attend this noble institution and meet many other TCKs (Third-Culture Kids – watch this video!).
I hope that in this blog I can give you a taste of my experience of Amherst and of the Pioneer Valley, and also to bring you with me as I embark on my many summer adventures.
I’m telling you this because, although having adventures in all these places has had its perks, moving around so much was also really hard. Being a TCK means it's really difficult to define 'home'. Yet, when I finally got to Amherst and met people with similarly diverse backgrounds, it felt very much like coming home. There are very few places in the whole world that are as geographically diverse within one compact palce as this campus. It has made a huge difference in my college experience, and I’m so thankful that I get to call this community home.
Until next time, kiddos,