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Third Culture Kids

19. March 2010

This is what so many of us are in today’s globalized world. Even if it’s only a new word for a very old phenomenon, it describes a state of mind that goes with lots of pains and pleasures that don’t seem to have a simple explanation, let alone solution.

It makes us feel uprooted when talking to the group of people who were raised in one single location. It makes us feel all glamorous when this same group first gets to talk to us.
But before musing on too much about it, lets look at the terminology. You are a TCK if you find yourself described in one or more of these points:
1. You were born in one country and raised in another one.
2. You were born in a family with more than one cultural background in comparison to the mainstream society around you, be it nationality/skin colour/physical handicap/sexual preference (= minority community).
3. You have moved around with your family more than 2-3 times before the age of 18.
4. You didn’t move around outside the place of your birth before you were an adult, but one or both of your parents are immigrants to the community.
5. You grew up with more than one native language.
6. Your skin colour is different from your parents’ because you were adopted as an infant.

And these are just some examples from the many possibilities of intercultural identities you might have.
I’m not even starting to talk about the several traumas that children and families may have in the context of fleeing from war, natural catastrophe and other life threats.

The major difficulty I have seen for many a  TCK, is finding like-minded people to connect with on a deeper level than small talk or technical work issues (which are great to have, but certainly not enough).
The next one is: after having defined a personal set of preferences in life, that are obviously different from the mainstream and even from the own family patterns, we have to defend our life style against the majority of people around us. How can we remain sure of our choices, sometimes even sure of our sanity, if we are constantly bombarded with the mainstream values shouting at us from all media channels?

I wished I could reach out to all those, who are now successful adults in the world of globalized working environments and still struggle with the questions of integrating the vast amount of experience, knowledge, personal preferences into one single identity. In spite of all the resources we may have around us, there is a sense of loneliness, of low self-esteem, or sheer frustration while looking for inner peace, a satisfying partnership or whatever else on Maslow’s pyramid of needs.
My goal is to describe all those processes going on in our lives so that they become easier to understand, manage and ultimately to communicate with our environment.

Stay tuned for more on this topic, and subscribe to the article, if you like. There is so much more to say, and it would be great to read from you too.

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