December 18th, 2020.
I write the date down at the top of my folder as a girl wanders into the room.
“Selina!” I say delightedly. “Hello.”
Selina Kim takes a seat at the table and grins at me. “Hey.”
I glance at my papers. “So. You’re… 11, right now, and you’re in sixth grade at TPS. You live in Istanbul, Turkey as a Third Culture Kid. Oh wow.”
“Yep,” she affirms.
“Hm, okay. What classes are you taking this year?”
She pauses to consider and then replies, “I’m taking Elementary Humanities – History and Literature of Asia and the Middle East, Writing Fundamentals 6, Elementary Science – Discovering God’s Physical World, and Math Fundamentals 5.”
“Nice! Okay. How would you describe yourself in three words? And do you know your personality type?”
She laughs. “I’m spunky, extroverted, and persistent. And I don’t know what my personality type is, but I can’t live, like, a day without people. One time I was quarantined away from my family and it was super tough.”
“I feel that,” I tell her, mildly amused. “I used to be so incredibly extroverted. Alright, next question. This one is more open-ended for you, so feel free to answer with whatever you’d like to. Name me some of your favorites – they can be anything within the boundaries of reasonability.”
Selina pauses, then answers slowly, “My favorite color is definitely mint green. My favorite book is either… well, series that is – Harry Potter or The Land of Stories. My favorite animal is a horse, a dog, and then a hamster, in that order. My favorite food is Vietnamese food. Favorite school subject is art; favorite teacher is Mrs. Ketch. My current favorite music artists are Chloe Moriendo, Cavetown, Pentatonix, and mxmtoon. My favorite dancer is Misty Copeland – the first African-American prima donna.”
“Oh, awesome. Misty Copeland is amazing to watch. Do you have any hobbies – do you play any instruments or sports? Speak any other languages?”
“If dance counts, then dance, although I don’t know if that’s a sport or not. I started when I was 3 and have been doing it ever since. I’ve done modern, lyrical, cha-cha, waltz, jive, ballet, ballet, and more ballet. I’ve also dabbled in baking, art, singing, acting, anything to do with animals, playing ukulele, chatting with friends, emailing with friends, talking to friends… did I mention friends? I did piano, but I didn’t really like it and I quit this year – and I’m not very athletic. And I speak English, and a good deal of Turkish.”
I raise an eyebrow. “Quite the artsy one, aren’t you? And dance definitely counts as a sport, that I can tell you. Do you have any particular talents?”
“I’d say I’m good at making friends (although I’m pretty bad at keeping them… thus are the lives of us TCKs), I’m decent at dance, um… I don’t know, really… I’m okay at a lot of things but not great at any of them.”
I laugh. “That’s a mood. Here’s some more introspection for you – what are your flaws and strong points?”
Selina contemplates the question. “As I mentioned before, I’m very persistent, which can lead to problems. But if a friend is having a bad day or needs something, I’m there in no time. I talk too much when I’m nervous or excited. I can listen to anyone’s problems, and when they ask me how I’m doing, I’ll gladly rant for hours.” She smirks slightly.
I laugh. “Sounds fun. Oh! This should be interesting, seeing as you’re a missionary kid… Where have you travelled to?”
“I’ve traveled to so many places that I’ve lost count. We go to America usually every summer. Other than that, I’ve been to Thailand, Switzerland, Budapest, Korea, Germany, Greece…and that’s only a few.”
“Very impressive. I’d love to go to those places someday. Oh, I forgot! Do you have any siblings? Pets?”
“I have one sister, Eliana Kim. And my amazing hamster Honey – she is 1 year, 7 months, and 25 days old, not that anyone’s counting.”
“Aww, hamsters… do you have an embarrassing memory you’d like to share?”
She blushes and laughs nervously. “Oh, there are so many… one time in fifth grade, me and my friends were down at the lockers, and, um, they started singing the kissing song with me and a guy that they always shipped with me – then he came running down to the lockers randomly and fell into me… well, as you can imagine, he heard them and assumed I liked him… that’s just part of the story, but I’ll leave on a cliffhanger.”
I snort. “What a cliffhanger. Do you have a bucket list? Some things that you’d like to accomplish before college?
She nods. “I’d love to go to a horse camp, dye my hair with highlights, get a phone (fingers crossed!), try out Instagram and TikTok, and… some others that I’d rather not share right now.”
“Good luck! What career are you interested in? I assume something in the arts…”
Selina responds, “My dream job at the moment is being an actor in Sight & Sound Theaters, which is a theater that puts on Bible stories as musicals. Or anything to do with the arts, or people… I’m kinda open right now.”
“Oh! I love the Sight & Sound musicals. Godspeed with your dreams. Hmmm…” I scan my list of questions again, looking for any I might have missed – I am running out of time. “Ah, yes. What advice would you like to give your younger self, if you could?”
After a slight pause, she says, “Don’t care about what other people think about you, stand up to bullies, and don’t do anything that makes you feel guilty.”
“Awesome. And… what is your favorite Bible verse?”
“Psalm 34:8,” she responds without hesitation. “‘Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!’”
“I love that one. Any final words?”
She grins. “Shoutout to the Omega Fam!”
“Thank you for coming!”