Year: 2010

Dealing with TCK grief and depression

In the tearful process of leaving South Korea after graduating from high school, I can distinctly remember a good friend of mine saying, “Ohhh… it feels like we’re at a funeral!”  In many ways, we were. Whether from my own life growing up among worlds or from working with hundreds of TCKs over the past decade at Interaction International, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me how central grief and loss are to the TCK lifestyle. Grief is a very human experience and one that many TCKs begin to know from a young age.  The kinds of feelings that come with grief, which is an emotional response to loss, require much care from both self and others, especially considering TCKs often undergo “complex grief,” a phenomenon that can happen when multiple kinds of loss occur all at the same time. Since grief for TCKs can be multifaceted, many find it helpful to spend time intentionally identifying the various and specific losses that have been suffered.  Contemplating these losses and allowing the time and space to feel …

How does a TCK define “home?”

It is 5 a.m. and I am sitting in a café at Frankfurt International Airport waiting for a flight that will bring me to the United States in a matter of hours. Eight hours! That is how long a healthy person sleeps at night, how long the train ride from Luxembourg to Hamburg takes, how long a typical day at school is. Eight hours and you can be on a different continent with a completely different culture. It’s nothing new: globalization is bringing people closer together, creating more intercultural relationships and complicating the meaning of “home.” Conventionally, “home” is associated with a geographical location. But, what shapes “home” in a world that is more and more connected? What means “home” to someone who has home everywhere? How does a TCK define “home”? The more I thought about this question, the more it drove me nuts. I had touched upon an issue that is omnipresent in the lives of most TCKs – the question about our roots, about what defines us, about where to go next. …

Now departing: without me.

I’ve avoided doing this for so long and for good reason. But here I am, saying goodbye at an airport, breaking my cardinal rule because I can’t help but use up every second I’ve got with her. We get off the bus and walk hand-in-hand into the terminal, luggage in tow. She checks in, her eyes starting to water. I can feel mine moisten, but I get it together as the ticket agent looks taken aback. I take a few breaths, trying my best to be steady even though the realization of what this moment means starts settling in, the anxiousness gathering momentum. Airports have never been complicated for me. I’ve always been indifferent about them; the only things worth getting emotional about were flight delays and exceptional (or terrible) food at the gate. I’ve rarely been upset at airports, even when leaving a country that had been home for the past couple of years. If I’d felt anything at all, it was intrigue and excitement over what awaited on the other side — but …

A little Denizen wordle

When I started Denizen, I never expected the amount of emails I would receive from readers who had been touched by the site. A lot of people email just to share their stories, which is interesting and fantastic. Tonight I exported a bunch of those emails into Wordle (see a sample of those emails here). Here’s the result… All I can say is thank you, so very much, for reading Denizen and for sharing your kind emails.

Research update: female minority expatriates

When Kendra Mirasol and Charisse Kosova of IOR Global Services noticed more minority women going abroad, they wondered if minority status made expat assignment easier. Since good expat research is hard to come by, they decided to conduct their own investigation. The focus: female minority women going abroad for business. A study can’t get much more specific than that, which meant preliminary research included only 25 respondents, 13 of whom went through extensive interviews. When they presented their findings at the Families in Global Transition conference in March, the numerical data was unsurprising:  “Is the overseas assignment a developmental part of your career plan?” 83 percent said yes. “Did any of the company’s preparation focus on female minority issues?” 89 percent said no. Instead, the most interesting results from their research came from the anecdotes collected through extended interviews. Here are some quotes from female minority expats that Kendra and Charisse presented: “People assumed I was Filipino and had married my husband because I was his maid. It fit their sense of order.” “Initially [the …