Sunday, November 27, 2011

TCK-hood

So, I thought I might as well address, for once, the whole reason for the name of the blog and some of the thought processes behind it.

As some, clever individuals may have noted (or may have previously known from prior friendships) I am a member of that select group known as Third Culture Kids (TCKs). What exactly is a TCK, you ask? Well, the best definition I've found is:
"A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of [their] developmental years outside the parents' culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK's life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background."
Unfortunately, I don't know the original source of this quote, but it can be found on most websites for or about TCKs. Basically, a TCK is someone who grew up in multiple cultures, drawing on different aspects of each of them, combining them, and creating a new, separate culture.

TCKs come in many different flavours. The main three, however, are Military Kids (aka Military Brats), Government Official's/Diplomat's Kids and Missionary's Kids (MKs) <- that's me. There's also a new branch of TCKs emerging, the Offshore Businessman's Kids.

There are a number of traits common to TCKs. These can range from multilingualism and possessing multicultural awareness to depression and isolation, depending on the individual. Some of the major, lingering effects many TCKs feel are restlessness (particularly those who've moved a lot), dissociation from home or host culture, ability to form quick relationships, inability to form deeper relationships, greater or lesser maturity (depends on the individual), and a loose, if not lacking, sense of "home".

So why the blog title? Well, I figured I'd start this blog as a sort of relief mechanism for me, cataloging the differences between "home" and "home" It quickly diverted from that intention, but there's still the underlying sense of "what a strange world the US is". Which one would think weird seeing as it is my birth country, but, if anything, I'd call my other home "home". It is, after all, where my family, friends, and memories are.

Anyway, I was browsing through the troves of Google for TCK (actually, I lie - I was trawling for my blog's name and seeing what else would come up, but shhh) and I happened to come across numerous blogs by other TCKs and links to support websites for TCKs and studies about TCKs (mostly performed by other TCKs themselves). All of these websites had many elements in common - it's  hard to put a finger on it, but there seemed a sense of world-weariness, isolation, and experience and right now, as I type, I can see, appreciate and associate with each of those sensations, but there's so much more.

Yes, we've slogged halfway across the world multiple times, yes, we've repeatedly packed our lives into boxes and suitcases, and yes, we've made and broken multitudes of relationships, but, I repeat, there's so much more. How many people know what mzungu price is, much less know how to haggle? How many have tried this in Wal-Mart? How many people do a mental juggle before meeting someone, trying to decide which language to use? How many people can say they can truly appreciate the luxury of consistent electricity?

Hello, we have unique experiences and we'd love to share them, so don't be shy, ask us questions*. Who knows, you might make a new friend and help one of us adjust to our new/old/re-new/i-have-no-clue-where-i-am "home".

For additional info, check this Wiki Page. It's fairly accurate in describing TCKs

*Don't ever ask these questions:

  • "Can you speak [x] language for me?"
  • "Which country do you like better?"
  • "If you're from [x] country, why are you [y] skin colour?" <- okay, you can ask us this one, but don't expect an answer until we've finished laughing our guts out.