Over at the Pragueblog, Steve Hercher points out the differences between the expats who live in their own bubble and those who put down roots. My good friend Joel Brand once described this difference in terms of hats: pith helmets vs. coonskin caps. The ‘pith helmets’ demand tea at four, have strawberries and cream in Bombay, and hold on tight to every trapping of Home. The ‘coonskin caps’ aren’t afraid to go completely native, learning culture, language and history.

There’s another, more insidious aspect to this: the ‘pith helmets’ have always been deathly afraid of miscegenation. Everyone’s all in favor of a roll in the hay with a local, but when it comes time to make a commitment, it must be with someone from the Homeland.

The ‘coonskin caps,’ on the other hand, have no such problems, and in having bicultural children, probably do more for long-term cross-cultural understanding than any amount of trade.