Caroline Kurtz explores what it was like to grow up between cultures in her memoir, A Road Called Down on Both Sides
More about the book!
In her memoir, A Road Called Down on Both Sides: Growing Up in Ethiopia and America, Caroline Kurtz writes about what it was like to grow up between the two countries.
Never at home
Today the term ‘third-culture kid’ is all over the internet. It has become a huge field of research, but when Caroline grew up, only a handful of misunderstood kids knew what it was like never to belong anywhere. Those kids, with parents in the mission field, military or diplomatic services, had no support and no one studied their needs.
Caroline grew up in the remote mountains of Maji, Ethiopia in the 1950s. Inside their mud hut, living with her missionary parents and three sisters, she enjoyed an American family life.
Outside, her world was shaped by drums and the joy cry; Jeep and mule treks into the countryside; ostriches on the air strip; and the crackle of several Ethiopian languages she barely understood but longed to learn.
Finally, she returned to the USA, a country she did not understand, despite her upbringing. Caroline felt like she had been exiled to a foreign country when she went to Illinois for college. After completing her studies, she returned to Ethiopia to teach, only to discover how complex working in another culture and language really is.
Life under a communist dictatorship meant constant outages – water, electricity, sugar, even toilet paper, but she was willing to do anything, no matter how hard, to live in Ethiopia again. Yet the chaos only increased – guerrillas marched down from the north, their T-shirts crisscrossed by Kalashnikov bandoliers.
When peace returned, Caroline got the chance she’d longed for, to revisit that beloved childhood home in Maji.
Maybe it would have been better just to treasure those memories.
About the author
Caroline Kurtz speaks Amharic fluently and spearheads development in Ethiopia’s Maji District, introducing apples, solar energy, and women’s cottage industries. She and her sister, the American children’s author Jane Kurtz, recently launched Ready Set Go Books for early Ethiopian readers. Over 12,000 copies have been distributed in Ethiopia. Caroline is retired, widowed, and living in Oregon. She regularly returns to Ethiopia.