I was recently invited to present to a group of high school and college students at Clark University’s annual Third Culture Kid / Global Nomad Conference. The topic I chose to speak about was “Finding Home.”
In this presentation I walk through the question that lead me to creating DenizenMag.com, how difficult it is for Third Culture Kids to understand that “home” is not a place, and why I think it’s important to define “home” for yourself.
Yes, I kind of stumbled through it, I messed up a bit in the middle, but I can guarantee you that I spoke from the heart. I hope you enjoy it.
Awesome talk–of course I could relate to everything you said! I am a TCK who has been back in my passport country for a long time. I still struggle with people asking where I am from. I am NOT from the town I live in–I just live here. One thing I would add is that when I was in college and my parents were overseas, home was wherever my parents were. My mom made an effort to make each of our homes in 12 countries consistent with traditions, etc. So when I was in college and I went “home” for Christmas, it was to New Zealand. Such a great thing to be a TCK!
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Thanks for watching and leaving a comment, Lisa! Traditions are wonderful for helping create a sense of home and continuity. I’ve also found that daily habits (such as meditation) do a bit of the same thing too — and I can take those with me when I travel.
Steph thank you for sharing your story! I resonate with it so, so much. I went to an international school in Singapore for a large part of my life, then graduated from Northwestern too (class of 2014 woop woop). When I’m in Singapore, I say I’m from Chicago/Seattle and when I’m in America I say I’m from Singapore. When I would meet a “true blue” Singaporean in college, I would get nervous because then I would have to explain my life story and why I had an American accent and couldn’t speak Singlish – why I wasn’t “truly Singaporean.” I discovered Denizen back in 2010 (was writing my senior thesis for high school about TCKs) and have been following it ever since. I love reading the articles on there! Currently I’m trying to figure out where to move next (San Francisco?? Bangkok??). The world is just so big! Thanks again for being vulnerable and sharing your story!
Hi Abi, I love your explanation of “between-ness” I am a therapist (and TCK) doing a learning series presentation on TCKs and wondered if I could use your comment in my presentation as an example, I would be happy to either give you credit or make it anonymous… let me know what you think?
Thank you Steph, for your honest and insightful presentation that raises a lot of issues that we always think about a lot. 🙂
To Steph Liu: Your presentation is just beautiful, and profound! You said that, “we all have to find the answers to the questions: a) Where am I from? b) Where is my home? c) Who am I?, and d) How can I find out? ” This is so true! And I love your definition of Home: “A magical place that we create for ourselves, where we feel safe and where we belong.”
I was born and raised in Japan, of American parents who were missionaries there. I lived there for 14 out of my first 17 years of life. When I came to the U.S. for college, I had a terrible culture shock and I didn’t understand why I didn’t fit in, why I couldn’t find people who I could really relate to. That was a long time ago. I have been living in the U.S. for decades now, and yet I still am sometimes confronted with the realization that I don’t identify with mainstream American culture. But now, I’m OK with that, because I know who I am! I wish you would write out this presentation in an article that I could print out and share with others. Thank you for some wonderful concepts that can help anyone, regardless of where they’re from, or who they are!
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I fully agree with you and I do the same when faced with the question “where are you from?” I determine what country I want to state. I am glad that you were able to find a personal answer of where your home is. My answer is always wherever my house happens to be at the time. Not where my parents are. That served me well, especially now that my parents are gone. I finally settled in one place and for the past 30 years did not move! Therefore, my home is definitely, where I happen to live at the time.
If people insist as I have an accent speaking English (I live in USA for the past 30 years), only if they are friends or I want to connect I state the country of my parents (Italy), where I lived only 5 years out of 63!! If they are strangers and casual encounters….. I stick to my response USA.
So thank you for making me think on other solutions to the ever-asked questions.