Any other "Third Culture Kids" out there?

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Reply Sun 16 Dec, 2007 08:38 pm
Just wondering if there were any fellow forumites that would be classified as "Third Culture Kids" (or TCK's), as well as to hear any insights that others have had on the topic. (Technically I'd currently be an ATCK- Adult TCK)

A TCK is described as "someone who [as a child] has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture". (Wikipedia) I spent four years as a child in Northeastern Brazil. And to add to that, my dad grew up as a TCK in Brazil and my mom grew up as a TCK in Jamaica, so our family never had many of the traditions and cultural nuances that most people take for granted who have spent their whole lives in the USA.

There have been some studies and books on the topic, and there a number of general characteristics that TCKs normally have in common- A few off the top of my head:
-Usually can get along with most people.
-Can "blend" in new surroundings.
-Never feel that they "fit in" or are completely a part of one culture.
-Ofthen feel like the "odd one out".
-Insecure in some areas.
-Feel "out of sync" with others of their age group- often more "mature" in their teens, but feel "behind" in their 20s.
-Tend to be detatched emotionally from cultural events, sometimes called "participant observers". Difficult to stop "observing", even when they are a part of the event.

I know I feel like most of those describe me to a "T"... So anyone else out their fit the description, or know someone who does?

Third Culture Kids
Third Culture Kids - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Third Culture Kid
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 16 Dec, 2007 09:18 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
I'm certainly not a TCK, though, there is what seems to be a related phenomenon: cultural starvation.

It seems that in the west, where materialism is the only recognizable culture (as all other cultural values and traditions are either trampled under foot by materialism or adapted by materialism, ie Christmas), that people are suffering noticable from the lack of culture.

Islamic terrorism is, to a large extent, a reaction against western materialism. Education suffers as we lose those classic texts which bind us together because no one reads them. The arts suffer because no one has any interest in art - artists do starve, or they find a day job. A degree in business is considered a more prudent choice than a degree in philosophy.

If you have a culture, no matter how mixed, treasure it.
 
Teena phil
 
Reply Fri 4 Jan, 2008 08:28 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
interesting, does seem to describe me as well. I was raised in Uzbekistan though my family is from Russia. I have also spent much time in Ukraine with my father who is living there. At 14 we moved to Canada.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 5 Jan, 2008 01:44 pm
@Teena phil,
As I said, I do not see myself as a TCK; I've always lived in the south eastern United States. But I have been lucky enough to travel. Having seen the vast diversity of cultures which coexist, especially in urban areas like London, New York, or Paris, I wonder if people growing up in these environments would be TCK?

I think this builds to a larger issue. Cultures do change, and they change for various reasons. One significant reason is the mix of cultures occuring when they interact. Adopting various cultural customs, beliefs, tendencies, ect seems to be the mechanism that drives this aspect of the development of new cultures. What are we bringing with us and what are we leaving behind?
 
Teena phil
 
Reply Sat 5 Jan, 2008 03:40 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
As I said, I do not see myself as a TCK; I've always lived in the south eastern United States. But I have been lucky enough to travel. Having seen the vast diversity of cultures which coexist, especially in urban areas like London, New York, or Paris, I wonder if people growing up in these environments would be TCK?

I think this builds to a larger issue. Cultures do change, and they change for various reasons. One significant reason is the mix of cultures occuring when they interact. Adopting various cultural customs, beliefs, tendencies, ect seems to be the mechanism that drives this aspect of the development of new cultures. What are we bringing with us and what are we leaving behind?



I definetely agree on the last bit. People from 2 different cultures mix in & thus form a new culture with traces/characteristics of both. This is in my opinion pretty much what happens with the TCKs.
Though obviously theres a difference in the gradual "coming together/mixing in" of a population & the drastic mix which happens to a single individual.

I completely understand the sense of loss thats described in the article. You "lose" that sense of comfort & complete belonging of your home country/culture but at the same time will never fully gain it in the next one. Nor can you regain it upon returing to your home country.
Seems to be a win/lose situation, while you lose one big chunk you gain various new ones. I think it can lead to a more chaotic existence overall ... & wheather that is good or bad is a matter of opinion.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 5 Jan, 2008 03:43 pm
@Teena phil,
Quote:
Though obviously theres a difference in the gradual "coming together/mixing in" of a population & the drastic mix which happens to a single individual.


Other than the number of people being considered, what is the difference?
 
Teena phil
 
Reply Sat 5 Jan, 2008 04:02 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Other than the number of people being considered, what is the difference?



For one just meaning the experience. A population for example migrating & mixing in & then eventually developing mixed traits is a gradual thing & I believe it would feel different than to a single individual having to quickly adapt to a new culture. I guess in short you can say its not "drastic".

Also, the result of mixing 2 cultures (populations) and a person with a new culture is different. The 2 populations might mix more or less equally, both bring & both take in. An individual on the other hand is overwhelmed by the new culture. He doesnt leave as much of a trace while gains aspects of the new culture. He doesnt have the "population" of his own culture behind him.

If that didnt make sense, then I'll put it like this: population VS population & individual VS population. for it to be similar it would have to be individual VS individual (2 people of different cultures mixing in)
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 5 Jan, 2008 04:35 pm
@Teena phil,
But isn't the process of the individual changing from various cultural influences the microcosm of whole populations changing from the cultural influences of other populations?
 
Teena phil
 
Reply Sat 5 Jan, 2008 05:14 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
But isn't the process of the individual changing from various cultural influences the microcosm of whole populations changing from the cultural influences of other populations?


I dont think so...not completely. Once again at least just because the change is different when theres a larger volume against a smaller volume.
A single individual in a new culture doesnt bring as much change as he takes in. A single individual in my opinion is more likely to lose more of his own culture while taking in the new one.
For it to be a similar mix in my opinion it either has to be a population merging with another population or an individual merging with another separate individual & exchangin cultural traits/qualities.

If it was the same, then an individual coming for example from India into the US would produce the same thing as India merging with the US.
 
NeitherExtreme
 
Reply Mon 7 Jan, 2008 02:50 pm
@Teena phil,
Hi Teena! Glad to see another TCK. Smile What part of Uzbekistan were you in? My wife and I spent last winter in Jalalabad, KGZ, living with an Uzbek family. We were teaching English at a new school. Not quite the same as Uzbekistan, but at least the same part of the world. Smile We thought about visiting there, but Visas were a bit of an issue... What you describe would make you a perfect example of a TCK- raised in an ethnically consious culture while being a minority, and then moving to a completelely different world (western) as a young teen. Thats pretty "Thrid Culture". Wink

Didymos, you bring up some good questions. Smile But I have to agree with Teena about there being a huge difference when cultures mix vs. a single person (or family) being ripped from one culture to another- The big differences IMO are that this person feels alone, they don't exactly "fit" anywhere, they are forced to adapt on their own, while the worlds around them are oblivious to the cultural dynamics going on. So while the "new kid" might be weird to everyone in a room, everyone in that room is just a weird to the new kid. But it doesn't matter because they're the only one that knows that. So the TCK goes through their formative years having to adapt, accept, and process individually in ways that most people don't. Even when cultures are mixing (large scale), there are usually others like you, as well as the fact that the people that aren't like you are going through the same kinds of adjustments. And cultural mixing is usually slower, over a period of years or even generations, not over the period of a plane ride. :eek:
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 7 Jan, 2008 03:25 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
I dont mean to dimish the 'out of place' feeling; that seems integral to the whole issue.
My thought was that what the individual goes through is the microcosm of changing cultures. A whole bunch of individuals constitutes the change on a larger scale.

Certainly, we have slightly different concerns when we talk about the individual changing in various cultures, but are any of those concerns unrelated to those of who populations changing?

Quote:
And cultural mixing is usually slower, over a period of years or even generations, not over the period of a plane ride.


What do you mean by slower? Certainly, whole populations can go through the process of mixing for a longer period than the individual, but isn't a group of individuals going through these changes the whole population we're talking about?
 
Teena phil
 
Reply Mon 7 Jan, 2008 04:00 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
Hello Smile
I was mostly raised in Tashkent.
Uzbekistan is definetely a great place to visit. In particular Samarkand, Khiva, Buhkara & the mountain regions. In certain parts a lot of the culture was erased during the Soviet years, but in those places feel like you're going back in time. I'm going back again to visit family in the near future.
I'm a little surprised you had issues with visas.

I was always interested in the english teaching opportunities as well. Or volunteer opportunities in general. I'm looking into India or Kenya.

As far as the TCK thing, to be honest I havent even heard of the term prior to this (so thank you for shareing). Though certain descriptions can be said to be quite general, still it's interesting how much it all applied all together. Which is completely understandable if you really think about it I guess.
 
NeitherExtreme
 
Reply Mon 7 Jan, 2008 05:15 pm
@Teena phil,
Teena wrote:
Hello Smile
I'm a little surprised you had issues with visas.

It was actually issues with our KGZ visas- they were one entry and a pain to get... :rolleyes:

Didymos- I won't disagree with you too much... But a group is a whole different thing than an individual, almost the opposite? I'm not sure I would say that any of the issues are completely unrelated to the mix of cultures on a larger scale, but still very different IMO.
 
Tainted
 
Reply Tue 15 Jan, 2008 08:05 am
@NeitherExtreme,
Not me, but my partner is. His parents came to Britain from Pakistan in the 60's and he was raised Muslim within an area of high Muslim population. However he rejected this faith in his teens, preferring a more agnostic approach and is definitely what some would call "westernised". He uses the term "Britpak" to explain his blending of the 2 cultures.

When we have children, we are both keen for them to learn about his Islamic routes, and my own spiritual beliefs aswell....hopefully so they can make an informed decision when they are old enough to (whatever age that may be!) and choose for themselves which culture they would like to adopt, if any.

I think the blending of cultures on a group scale is something that has always enriched culture, and can do so on an individual level also.
 
Leaf phil
 
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2008 11:55 am
@Tainted,
I'm a TCK - born to Danish parents in Frankfurt a.M. in Germany, I spent my first 10 years in Germany, after which we moved "home" to Denmark. Which means that I've still spent more years in Germany than in Denmark - and Denmark doesn't really feel like home...

Some interesting discussions on culture here. I've been very conscious of this myself, because of my feeling 'outside' at times (much like NeitherExtreme described). I feel that being a TCK has only brought along enormous advantages for me. I was tri-lingual at the age of 6, and I get along well with other people and other cultures.

Regarding cultures, and a comment that Didymos Thomas brought up in the beginning about what determines which parts are preserved and which parts are not when cultures 'fuse' (on a larger scale), I've been reading an interesting book - Empires of the Word - that generally argues that language has been a huge 'influencer' when it comes to cultures. What cultures and which traditions were preserved are often determined by languages. An interesting read and topic.
 
 

 
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