For many of us, completing university means one thing: figuring out the next step. Whether it’s teaching English in Asia, backpacking across Europe or working for a charity group in Africa, many TCKs hunger to explore as much of the world as humanly possible. What drives us to travel like this? What are we looking for? What are the adverse effects of traveling? And perhaps most importantly, will we ever find whatever it is that we are looking for?
We often seek adventure because, from the get-go, our lives are a journey into the unknown. All of us are raised in what some would call ‘unconventional’ circumstances: what is strange and foreign to some is perfectly normal to others. This very concept lies at the core of the mindset of most TCKs. In my opinion, we spend our first twenty-something odd years fighting to find our identity, only to find that the “box” doesn’t actually exist. We learn that the more we experience, the more we are able to adapt to our surroundings and appreciate the similarities and differences that we, as people, all have.
In this series, Denizen follows three TCKs with charitable aspirations. Two have already completed their journeys — the third: we will be following their adventure across Europe and Africa for the next few weeks.
Changing the world, one school at a time…
The goal: raise enough money to fund the construction of a school.
Agustin ‘Auggie’ Bautista, 23, says that he wanted to “combine a philanthropic project with a travel/adventure project with the purpose of adding at least one more school to our world.” Born in the U.S., but raised in Singapore and ethnically Fillipino, Auggie now works in Beijing. But it was after graduating from college in May 2008 — and after much contemplation — that Auggie decided to co-found Cycling+1, a two and a half month long cycling charity fund-raising project around Southeast Asia.
Partnering with the Canadian organization, ‘Free the Children,’ Auggie and his cycling team of six peers were able to raise almost $23,000–enough to fund the construction of 2 schools, one in Quanyuan, Anhui in China and one in Makeni, Sierra Leone
Setting off in June 2008, the cycling journey started in Kunming, China. Moving south through Hanoi, Vietnam, they biked through Luang Prabang, Laos. Then, heading back to Vietnam, they cycled down the coast to Saigon and finally ended in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, two and a half months later.
“Cycling through areas rarely visited by the typical tourist is really the best way to engross yourself in a country,” Bautista said. “It was quite amazing; I had never been to any of these countries.”
Auggie admits that being a TCK is was a huge motivating factor for this journey.
“In my opinion, TCKs will always have an aching desire to travel,” Bautista said. “Home is abroad, amid different people and cultures, so we’re typically very open-minded, resilient and adventurous, that’s why it’s so rewarding being a third culture kid.”
A personal journey in Nepal
The goal: Spend five weeks volunteering in Nepal at an orphanage in the Kathmandu Valley providing health and education services for kids
Kathryn Scurfield, 23, was born in Hong-Kong and adopted by British parents at the age of 18 months. Although her biological mother is Vietnamese, and she has never lived in England, she is technically a UK citizen. Growing up in Washington D.C. and Beijing, Kathryn attended UBC in Vancouver and there decided that she wanted to get more volunteer experience before inheriting too many of life’s responsibilities. Having volunteered in several developing countries in the past, learning life lessons from each trip, Kathryn decided that she wanted to continue down that path the summer of 2007, before her last year in University.
Living in Kathmandu, Nepal for five weeks, Kathryn volunteered at a local orphanage, providing health and education services for kids aged of 5-12.
“Many of the kids were ill when I first arrived, and I actually caught influenza in my first three days there,” she said. “But, I really enjoyed being there and I still think about the kids all the time,” she said.
Kathryn explains she wanted to volunteer because she recognized the life of privilege many TCKs have. “We grow up in an environment where we get to travel and experience many different cultures and see different levels of poverty,” she said. “I grew up in developing countries and that really made an impact on me. I have always felt that since my life has been so privileged, I really wanted to use my resources and contribute to try and reduce those levels of inequality.”
With half the population, or approximately 15 million people, living under the international poverty level of $1.25 per day, Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. Still, Kathryn admits she had a deeply personal reason for volunteering at an orphanage. “Because I’m adopted, I thought volunteering at an orphanage would be good in the sense that I could relate to those kids to a certain degree.”
Kathryn believes TCK’s want “unconventional” adventures, “because that’s been our upbringing.” Unlike most people, who naturally move towards what’s familiar, Kathryn thinks that for TCKs, what’s familiar is, well, the unfamiliar. “I really get a high off of being in an uncomfortable situation where I have to constantly be challenging myself,” she says. “I think being a TCK forces us to be more understanding and accepting of different cultures. When you live in a place where poverty is so stark, it’s impossible to ignore it.
This is part 1 in a series about TCK adventures: changing the world and yourself. Read the next part about Team Uhnooo as they race across Europe and Africa.