Third Culture Kids

What are Third Culture Kids?

If you hate being asked “Where are you from?,” chances are, you’re a Third Culture Kid. You’re a global nomad, an international traveler, a wanderlust. Denizen was created for you.

Formally defined, TCKs are people who have spent a portion of their formative childhood years (0-18) in a culture different than their parents’. Most TCKs will return to their parents’ home country at some point in their lives, undergoing repatriation. TCKs tend to develop their identities while living abroad, thus blending their “home” culture with the culture of the world around them. People who have attended international schools, who are children of diplomats, “military brats,” or children of missionaries are just a few examples of TCKs.

In their ground breaking book, Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing up Among Worlds authors David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken write that a “TCK builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.”

TCKs are, quite literally, citizens of the world. They are hard to define and are made of an infinite amount of experiences. The bottom line is, whether or not you fit into the formal definition of a Third Culture Kid, if you think you’re a TCK, then this community will welcome you with open arms.

Explore Denizen by reading personal essays, studies on relationships, interviews with successful Third Culture Kids, or the article that started it all.

62 Comments

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  4. Anne says

    This is even more problematic or confusing with a long term damaging effect for those who have been uprooted due to Genocide. The identity crisis is such that people are in perpetual and continuous search of belonging which should add comfort. It is not good enough saying who you are but most importantly which culture you should absorb or get attached to in order to become whole . Although it is refreshing and mind opening to understand and adopt other cultures but having your own will strengthen one’s roots . Like a tree with strong roots which will withstand any strong currents or blow. One can argue that we are all humans and it doesn’t matter where we come from or who we are but this exact knowledge of our identity is the core issue. It is like discipline which in itself is comforting and
    rewarding.

    Liked by 1 person

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