This week I’m attending the Families in Global Transitions (FIGT) Conference, which is a wonderful resource for anyone trying to learn more about Third Culture Kids. At this morning’s workshop I met Adam Browning, 21, and pulled him aside for a quick TCK chat.
This self-proclaimed “airforce kid” recently discovered the language of Third Culture Kids and has fully embraced it as a way to change the world. Currently in college, Browning has lived in Germany, Thailand and five different U.S. states. He sees TCKs as model citizens of the future.
What do you say when someone asks you, “Where are you from?”
I say, “Funny question.” At this point my family lives in Portugal, I’m going to Abilene [Christian University in Texas], and I moved from San Antonio to go to school.
How did you discover the term “TCK”?
I learned the lingo my sophomore year in college… Dr. Carley Dodd, a professor of mine, was instrumental in this epiphany for me. Up until that point I was under the impression that I was extremely unique and a very weird kid. Not that it was a bad thing, but I had become confident and almost proud of my weirdness.
[When I discovered the term] it was a breath of fresh air. It was encouraging, it was passionate in that I finally found something that tied into who I was and the way that I thought and processed things.
I immediately called my family and told them about it… I was starting to see a framework that applied to my life, and the struggles I’ve had… It also allowed my mother particularly to understand that she hadn’t raised freaks. … As a homemaker and a stay at home mom, her primary goal or worry was doing well at raising her kids, and to be able to let her understand that there were these other things going on and that it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing… was very, very exciting.
What do you hope to get out of this FIGT conference?
A better understanding of myself. … To learn how more appropriately to utilize my background, to take advantage of it and make it more marketable for jobs or education.
Because my hope and goal is to be using business, entrepreneurship, development and theory as a means of accomplishing missions internationally, understanding the theories at this conference… I think will be extremely valuable and will be able to help shape and form the business or organization that comes.
How do you think TCKs can contribute to the world?
TCKs are blessed with an insight to the future.
And I say that simply because a TCK by nature and by very definition is exposed to a minimum of two cultures for a significant portion of their life. …They’re able to evaluate them, they’re able to compare them, and in so doing, they are given more options and the ability to choose that which they think is truly effective. …You’re able to see things that are emerging in our global society before it disseminates to the rest of society.
TCKs and global nomads have the ability to be world changers. They have the ability and the responsibility to look at the things that they have learned, to look at the value systems, and to come back or go to new places and institute what they have learned. … By doing that, we’re able to steer and guide the course of history, the course of governments, the course of belief systems.
What’s the best thing about being a TCK?
The best thing about being TCK was the effect it had on my relationship with my family and with God. In a situation where change is the constant… we as a family turned to God as a source of guidance and direction. Those were by far the greatest positives because … I’ll be able to take it and apply it to my life, and if I’m so blessed with a family, I can try to instill it in my family.