There is no TCK team in the Olympics, no Global Nomad team on the football pitch. We don’t fit into any neat geographical categorization at a time when we’re told most strongly that we should. Believe me, if we were represented at the World Cup, I’d happily change loyalties and support “our own.”
Growing up white in Taiwan made me feel like I had superpowers. I could read an English novel faster than any kid I knew! Benefit from preferential attention some places! Fly off to America for the summer to see my grandparents!
Hosni Mubarak won with 99% of the vote. In my innocence, I wondered why Egypt’s president was so well liked, compared with the contempt with which we held American politicians.
Asian Americans have a new face, a new role model, a new idol to call their own. I am not one of these Asian Americans.
Today, I live in a place where I have no say: the United States — and could have a say in places where I do not live: Switzerland, Canada and Iran. I hold a right to three votes that I believe many others are more entitled to, and have no entitlements where I think my vote should count.
As diplomat kids, missionary kids, corporate kids or whatever else living abroad, we were expected to represent the United States on our teenage shoulders with everything that we did. To others, we were America. To us, we were American by passport, having grown up abroad.
When I travel, there is a tension between my mobility – where I go – and my identity – who I am. In Asia, I look Asian, but somehow I’m not. In Western countries, I’m Western, but somehow I’m not.
Julie Englander, a Chicago-based journalist, is currently filming a documentary on Missionary Kids returning to the U.S. and adjusting to their supposed “home culture.”
Using a person’s birthplace to define citizenship, or a person’s place in society, is frustratingly archaic. It reinforces a flawed notion that people can be placed within pre-defined boxes, and that one’s patriotism can be determined by one’s birthplace.
Hearing news of disasters or conflict can often remind TCKs of other events that have happened closer to home. They remember how it affected them before, and understand how it is affecting others now.