“The construction and interpretation of “home” is not bounded by the location of origin anymore. Rather, it is a process of reconciling the fluidity of identity and meaning-making practices with relationships and objects. The underpinning framework of home is the understanding that it is an emotional place; where one truly belongs.”
In my second round of graduate school, I dove deep into exploring my ATCK identity. My program at American University allowed me the flexibility to do independent studies and semesters abroad not only to research but also to sit with the liminality of it all. I am grateful for the professors, mentors, and peers who helped guide my processing and reflecting.
I have decided to include an “Academic Papers” link to this non-blog to showcase some of my written graduate work. The excerpt above is from my paper titled here as “Home.”
“A story is never complete until it is told, heard, and understood.”
As an Adult Third Culture Kid, I have a lot of stories to tell of my global background. Of my safaris, my international school field trips, my advice on luggage, my speaking three languages in one sentence, my definition of home, my favorite restaurant in Tokyo, etc. When I was a K I D moving to another country, I found it a bit easier for others to understand me – and my story/stories. As just another foreigner in the foreign school, I had an understanding that most of my friends had just moved from another country as well…not their passport country necessarily.We just got each other…as kids do. And we loved each other’s stories. [You bet ‘Show & Tell’ looked a bit different in the international school compared to a homogeneous one].
But now, as an A D U L T, I’m finding that my global stories are not as well received when I tell them to my coworkers, family, or even fellow adult friends.The stories are considered, sometimes, as bragging and/or exaggerations. Too Exotic. Too unbelievable.The (non)reaction I perceive and experience has silenced me on more than one occasion and I have downplayed – or even hid – my international upbringing. Sometimes, I don’t mention my TCKness identity in order to fit in with my new community. I don’t want to alienate myself because of jealousy or misunderstanding.But this is a T R A G E D Y.People need to hear my stories. Stories of diversity. Stories of adventure. Stories of what has (re)shaped who I am today.But it takes an effort on my part to (re)frame these stories so they are heard and understood. I can try to link them to a frame of reference or compare them to someone else’s story.
But not be silent.
In telling my story, perhaps I can discover someone else who has struggled with reentry into their passport country and we can tell our stories together, or someone else who has felt marginalized as a minority, or someone who has even used a wooden toboggan to sled down a Swiss alp at 10 years old.
Hey fellow travelers, TCKs, wanderers, nomads, friends: tell your story so it’s heard and understood.
A couple months ago in Western Michigan, I had coffee with Michael Pollock (son of David Pollock, co-author of “Growing Up Among Worlds”) (and by the way the newest edition is hot off the press: “Third Culture Kids”). We talked about our (non)writing thoughts and discussed the posts we have in our (non)existent blogs and what a (non)blog might look like. Months later…this is my attempt at a (non)blog.
My non-blog looks like this (right now): the majority of the blurbs are short, most of the posts are succinct, but all of the thoughts produce additional ones.
Perhaps, as this venture proceeds, I’ll have longer posts. Perhaps, I’ll have a lot to say about something. Perhaps, I’ll want to get back into writing more after recovering fully from my second master’s degree academic papers. But for the beginning, expect short. I have the ATCK change mentality, so expect a mixture of both long and short posts long-term.
I am excited to share with you my
T H I R D CULTURE KID
thoughts, inspirations, and questions.
To be clear, I’m going with the classic definition of an “Adult Third Culture Kid” : an individual who has spent his/her developmental years living outside of his/her passport country………..And is now grown up.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, inspirations, and questions on this ATCK identity!