Year: 2008

Not “coming home” alone

I had only known Caleb for three months before he died. We were just getting past the stereotypes. Him: a tall, blonde, cheery kid from Hong Kong. Me: a not-tall, Asian, cheery kid from Singapore. We were both Third Culture Kids, working as dorm resident assistants, attending university far from home. At Caleb’s memorial, his dad read his suicide note. “I’m sorry,” Caleb wrote. “I’ve been living a lie.” I collapsed into tears. Until that moment, I refused to believe that it was suicide. We were so alike! We were international, Third Culture. We joked about how we hated answering “Where are you from?” and the stereotypes put upon us. We were smart, worldly, well-traveled. Why suicide? That was 2005. Today I’m still seeking answers to questions that I am afraid to ask. I still don’t know why Caleb decided to leave. But I am sure of one thing. Third Culture Kids need a lot of support when they leave their expatriate communities. Going away to college is the first time many TCKs emerge from …

How to bring up the “S” word

Sponsorship: It’s a word that makes international job seekers and employers cringe. I would know. As a non-U.S. citizen going through my job search now in America, I know that without company sponsorship, I can’t get a visa to work here. It’s tough bringing up it up. It costs employers money, and they’re gambling on somebody they’ve only just met. But the good news is sponsorship is possible if you market yourself right and know when to broach the topic with potential employers. Before I give my two cents, though, it’s important to understand that there are no hard and fast rules as to when to bring it up. I came to this conclusion after talking to various international students who did get sponsorship. Essentially, asking for a work visa is a judgment call. Here are some questions to think about before you bring up the “S” word. 1. Are you applying from outside the U.S.? If so, then it will be obvious from the start you need sponsorship and you’ll have to bring it …

Expatriate Patriotism

So Chinese-born superstar Gong Li recently became a Singaporean citizen—and people in China are completely freaking out.  Even though her husband is Singaporean, and she’s lived abroad for years, her decision has sparked an onslaught of heated protest on popular online portals like sohu.com and sina.com. “Traitors like this don’t even love their own country,” one Netizen wrote, translated by The Times. “These people were only fake countrymen of ours. Let them slink off to other countries and die!” “All traitors will be nailed to history’s mast of shame,” wrote another. “We should resolutely reject any further contact with such people.” Um, seriously? Geez. Calm down, people. That’s psycho ex-boyfriend talk. Maybe it’s just me.  I don’t think Third Culture Kids (TCKs) ever really “get” the whole patriotism thing.  Even my British National Overseas (BNO) passport triggers confused questions that I don’t quite know how to answer: “Oh, you’re British?” “No, it’s a Hong Kong passport that just looks like a British passport.  You know, it was a British colony…” “Weren’t you born in England, …

You’re so isolated! Expat communities explained.

How is it possible to live abroad, without ever really living abroad at all? Most TCKs have spent some portion of their life in an expat community. These havens from culture shock are a staple in any modern metropolis, isolating wealthy expats from their host cities by allowing them to transplant their home culture abroad. This article will focus on American expat communities. Sarah Whitten, 21, grew up in the expatriate community in Tokyo, Japan. Attending the American school there, she watched expats hang out at the American embassy, eat American food at the bases, enjoy American music and TV, and spend most of their weekends at the Tokyo American Club. “There are also homats… nice apartments that are geared toward expats only – probably no Japanese families live there,” she said. “Unless the expat family members take interest in the culture and immerse themselves in it, they can completely isolate themselves from it because they have everything they need accessible to live a totally American life.” Andrew McWilliam, 20, an expatriate who went to …

What I learned about America

My dearest TCKs across the globe, For those of you who weren’t able to be in the United States during this historic election, I would like to share with you what I have experienced in the last four days. I moved to the US for college, although I went to an American school abroad. But last night, for the first time, I witnessed the power of the democratic process. On Nov. 1 I headed up to the battleground state of New Hampshire to help out with the campaign. As a non-citizen who couldn’t vote, I figured this was the next best thing. When I showed up, it was chaos at the Obama office in Raymond, NH. The town is historically a Republican stronghold, but this Democratic outfit was packed. I was surrounded by people of all types — hardened union workers, sweet stay at home moms, sophisticated attorneys and enthusiastic college students. They were all heading out to canvass, bringing with them lists of registered voters, stickers, pamphlets and their reasons for supporting Barack Obama. …