All posts tagged: identity

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. …

Haiti earthquake: why should citizenship matter?

In the wake of the Haiti earthquake crisis, the American Red Cross posted information about the U.S. State Department’s efforts in finding loved ones in the disaster zone. That’s where I saw this sentence: “Unfortunately at this time, inquiries to search for non-U.S. Citizens missing in Haiti are not being accepted.” I understand that with limited resources, it makes perfect sense for people to “help their own.” However, this statement is frustrating because I firmly believe that “citizenship” is a flawed way of defining a person’s identity or national ties, and should not used as a segregator — whether in disaster relief aid or other situations. “Citizenship” is a legal status that is easily manipulated. It is not an identity, it does not define a human being, and it should not be misconstrued as such. “What’s your citizenship?” as a substitute for “Who are you?” As TCKs, we know that equating citizenship with a person’s identity is flawed. Every day, people greet TCKs with questions such as “Where are you from?” or “What’s your citizenship?” …

meangirls

What TCKs can learn from ‘Mean Girls’

Mean Girls won’t win any Oscars, but peel away the glossy angst, and it is sociologically brilliant. The movie follows Cady Heron (played by Lindsay Lohan) as she starts her first day at an American high school. We quickly learn that Cady, a child of research zoologists, spent 12 years growing up in Africa. “P.S., Cady is a TCK” should have gone into the credits. “I had a great life [in Africa]” Cady narrates. “And then… my mom was offered tenure at Northwestern University. And it was goodbye Africa, hello high school.” Sound familiar? The sudden move from one culture to another provides a slew of Third Culture Kid moments, visible from just the first 10 minutes of the movie. On her first day of school in Illinois, Cady’s American parents are thoroughly unaware of how difficult the cultural transition could be for her. Walking up to the African-American students, Cady says “Jambo” in Swahili. She also deals with comments like, “So, if you’re from Africa – why are you white?” (“Oh my god Karen,” …