"Global nomad" looks for his place in the world

A journal for junior Kristoff Bultema is not a collection of pages but rather a collection of bottle caps. Each cap, labeled in pen with a date and occasion, holds a memory significant to him. 

“A while ago I used to keep a journal but that was too much bother, and I didn’t have a good enough work ethic to keep a journal,” Bultema said. “And now I have this little chest of bottle caps from a bunch of special times in my life. It’s essentially so I can look back and remember them without having to write down in detail in a journal.“

His collection expands beyond memories, including both a wide quantity and variety of bottle caps. Bultema estimates he has gathered a couple hundred different types and up to 2,000 individual caps in all. He has had several opportunities to add to his growing collection as Bultema has traveled to 26 different countries.

When Bultema was two months old, his family moved from the United States to Turkey. His parents are missionaries working with the international church and facilitating planting Turkish churches. Bultema spent his childhood in Turkey before going to Black Forest Academy in Germany for high school. There, he met other missionary kids from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

“Every now and again, something will happen that kind of shocks me and makes me realize I really didn’t grow up here,” Bultema said.

When he came to Whitworth his freshman year, Bultema was invited to arrive early with a list of other international students.

“I was the only one there listed as a global nomad,” Bultema said.

Three years later, Bultema has embraced the nomadic lifestyle. As an International Studies student emphasizing in history, he plans to travel anywhere he can overseas.

“I’m excited to get back out into the international world,” Bultema said. “I’ve never really thought of myself as American.”

The only motivation keeping Bultema in the U.S. for the summer is a lack of finances.

“I’m staying here to work,” Bultema said. “I think it’ll be a full year since being overseas and that’ll be the longest time I’ve ever been in the States. Maybe I’ll go to Canada.”

Story by Emily Roth

Photo by Angeles Solis

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