by Almendra Staffa-Healey, Co Founder & Director, Intercultural Understanding
Recognized Third Culture (TCK) and Cross-Cultural Kids (CCK) include President Barack Obama whose background and childhood include the USA, Indonesia and Kenya, journalist Christiane Amanpour who’s childhood spans the UK and Iran, and even Kobe Bryant who grew up in the USA and Italy and is named after the famous Japanese beef (his father called him this after reading it in a restaurant). To be a TCK means to create an own culture out of two cultures that influence our life during childhood. All bilingual kids are somehow TCKs.
Some of the profile traits of TCKs and CCKs include being alert, intelligent, and geographically aware, mature, sensitive and skilled at listening, likely to exhibit tolerance and cross-cultural understanding, flexible and open to change, high achieving, and drawn to careers associated with service to the community or world. In 2000, anthropology student Ximena Vidal wrote of these children that they “are an example of a new way to define culture that is emerging in our post modern world. Culture can also be what we share experientially.” (Quoted from Pollock, David & Van Reken, Ruth. Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds. Boston: Intercultural Press, 2009.)
There are certainly benefits and challenges to this type of childhood. Using poetry and arts to understand identity and issues around relocation have been recommended by experts such as Barbara Schaetti and Julia Simens in their work with families who move between cultures during the developmental years of their children.
Due to the great interest in the topics presented, I will be organize an event in Madrid during January 2016 to gather people interested in Third Culture and Cross-Cultural Kids development and identity. If you are interested in this you can sign up onmy website to receive news of the event: http://interculturalunderstanding.eu/page/news
- Bautista, Adrian. So Where’s Home? A Film About Third Culture Kid Identity. 2012. Available online: https://vimeo.com/41264088 [Accessed 22 November 2015].
- Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence: Why it can Matter More than IQ. New York: Bantam, 1995.
- Natario, Elena. Infographic: The Modern Third Culture Kid, Denizen Magazine. September 13, 2011. Available online: http://denizenmag.com/2011/09/infographic-the-modern-third-culture-kid/ [Accessed 22 November 2015].
- Pascoe, Robin. Raising Global Nomads: Parenting Abroad in an On Demand World. North Vancouver: Expatriate Press, 2006.
- Pollock, David & Van Reken, Ruth. Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds. Boston: Intercultural Press, 2009.
- Simens, Julia. Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child. Great Britain: Summertime, Publishing, 2011.
- Quick, Tina. The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition. Great Britain: Summertime Publishing, 2010.
A list of useful websites: