Thursday, December 08, 2011

I'm a third culture kid!

and it looks like my kids are also!!!

A definition I liked of a Third Culture Kid (TCK) is "a child who spends a significant time of his/her developmental years outside of the parents culture. The TCK builds relationships to all of the cultures while not having full ownership of any."
If you think you might be too or that your kids are, then please listen to this interview with Ruth Van Reken.

It's great actually to have a name to this "I come from nowhere and everywhere" identity of mine. I always felt that living all over the place made me feel kind of "rootless" because I was always different even if what I knew and what I had seen, learned and experienced was practically always presented in a positive light, for me there has always been a sense of not belonging and loss that I have found hard to manage. When I am here, I feel from there, and when I am there I also feel foreign.

It was kind of comforting for me to hear this person say that because everyone is always talking about the positives, you feel almost ungrateful when you express the losses or the fact that your identity is full of holes bigger than any cheese. She also talks about the unresolved grief which was a total slap in the face it felt so true to me.

When people ask me where I am from, to this day I try to explain in the truest possible manner the entirety of my origins because I cannot say that I am "only" Swiss/ Slave/ South African-English/ a world-citizen/ a little bit of all 9 countries I have liven in. When asked what my mother tongue is, I can only truthfully say my mother's language is English or that I spoke 3 languages at the age of 3; my mother's, my father's and Italian since at that moment, we were living in Italy. It's as if I need to explain my lack of belonging or my links to all the different places that are part of me. Maybe kind of crazy?

... to be continued

In the meantime, here are some related links:

tck world
International family transitions

N.B. I started writing this post three days ago then got interrupted by my  third culture kids and their international musical requests on youtube!

1 comment:

Kim in the Cove said...

I loved discovering the term "third culture kids" a few years ago. Having lived in 5 countries and 7 US states - and not having ever been affiliated with the military - it is really hard to explain where I am from and thus who I am. Some people find it unnerving. I suppose humans like simple answers to simple questions and when you don't have one... Well, it can be awkward. It took me a very long time to realize that my sense of rootlessness will never go away - that I need to embrace it and appreciate it for all the good that goes with it.

Your post is right on! Thanks for sharing the link.