I’ve landed, but where am I? In German, to arrive, “ankommen,” is understood to be a longer process, one that could take days or weeks.
I am half-Chinese, half-German and have never been anything else. It never occurred to me that this would be an issue to other Chinese.
Ben Huh, 33, is the CEO of the Cheezburger Network, the Internet company that owns “I Can Has Cheezburger?” Huh, one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, grew up between South Korea, Hong Kong and California.
“A school friend once described us as citizens of the world,” said TCK Clarissa Beeson, an attorney working in London. “I think that is rather apt. We are made up of so many different parts that together form a whole.”
So this is the tragedy of being a global citizen, intercontinental.
“Holy shit, you’re not black?” the patient exclaimed as he examined me from head to toe. My partner and the two police officers burst out laughing. “No sir, I’m more of a twinkie,” I said.
I don’t think anyone ever saw it coming. The creation of a non-American American. In other words, me. Third Culture Kids often mock Americans for thinking that they are the center of the world. But few will admit that the statement is absolutely true. American dominance is prevalent in every corner of the globe. From Microsoft to Britney Spears to Barack Obama, the rest of the world is indoctrinated into American culture. But while the lasting value of American cultural exports is difficult to measure, their international institutions offer a very quantifiable example of their influence. As a consequence of this globalization, you don’t need to set foot in America to be an American. My family is from Hong Kong. I grew up in Singapore. I spent less than three months in America before moving to Chicago for college four years ago. Yet, “I thought you were American!” was one of first things Americans would say to me. That usually came after an introduction (“Hi, I’m Steph”) and a qualifying statement (“I am from Singapore”). …
I had only known Caleb for three months before he died. We were just getting past the stereotypes. Him: a tall, blonde, cheery kid from Hong Kong. Me: a not-tall, Asian, cheery kid from Singapore. We were both Third Culture Kids, working as dorm resident assistants, attending university far from home. At Caleb’s memorial, his dad read his suicide note. “I’m sorry,” Caleb wrote. “I’ve been living a lie.” I collapsed into tears. Until that moment, I refused to believe that it was suicide. We were so alike! We were international, Third Culture. We joked about how we hated answering “Where are you from?” and the stereotypes put upon us. We were smart, worldly, well-traveled. Why suicide? That was 2005. Today I’m still seeking answers to questions that I am afraid to ask. I still don’t know why Caleb decided to leave. But I am sure of one thing. Third Culture Kids need a lot of support when they leave their expatriate communities. Going away to college is the first time many TCKs emerge from …
So Chinese-born superstar Gong Li recently became a Singaporean citizen—and people in China are completely freaking out. Even though her husband is Singaporean, and she’s lived abroad for years, her decision has sparked an onslaught of heated protest on popular online portals like sohu.com and sina.com. “Traitors like this don’t even love their own country,” one Netizen wrote, translated by The Times. “These people were only fake countrymen of ours. Let them slink off to other countries and die!” “All traitors will be nailed to history’s mast of shame,” wrote another. “We should resolutely reject any further contact with such people.” Um, seriously? Geez. Calm down, people. That’s psycho ex-boyfriend talk. Maybe it’s just me. I don’t think Third Culture Kids (TCKs) ever really “get” the whole patriotism thing. Even my British National Overseas (BNO) passport triggers confused questions that I don’t quite know how to answer: “Oh, you’re British?” “No, it’s a Hong Kong passport that just looks like a British passport. You know, it was a British colony…” “Weren’t you born in England, …
Goddamn my American accent. “You’re from Singapore?” the girl sneered in her all-too-real Singaporean accent. “Born and bred?” I know I’m not the only one who does a “little dance of white lies” when asked where I’m from.