In the northern hemisphere it is graduation season, and around the world lots of TCKs are leaving countries that feel like home.
Some will be moving to countries they have a passport for, but feel foreign in.
Some will be moving to countries they consider home, and long to return to.
Some will be moving to new countries, in the familiar role as “foreigner”.
Some will become part of the visible majority for the first time.
Some will stand out for their appearance in a way that hasn’t happened before.
Some are focused on logistics – on preparing paperwork and possessions.
Some feel stuck in the grief of all they must leave behind.
Some are excited to launch out into a new life.
Some are terrified of all the change that is upon them.
Some feel the finality of this move. Life will never be the same again.
Many are overwhelmed by all the goodbyes – leaving people and places they love.
Most are a jumble of mixed emotions.
Several TCKs I interviewed for Misunderstood said high school graduation was one of the most difficult experiences of their lives.
One said: “Graduation was, to date, the hardest thing I’ve been through. Everyone around me kept saying that college would be the best years of my life, but I couldn’t see how that could be true.”
Another said: “The biggest and longest period of grief I have experienced is when I graduated high school. I knew that I was not only leaving a place but a lifestyle.”
And finally, one last quote: “If home is where the heart is then after we all graduate my home will be in Korea and America and other places I’ve never been to, because that’s where my friends will be.”
So what do we do with all this? How do we help the TCKs we love as they move through this season full of goodbyes and hellos? I could write (and have spoken) about this at length, and maybe in the future I will write about it here. For now, however, I’m going to lean on the wisdom of others. I’ve pulled together some resources from various places that I think may be helpful both for graduates and for those of us who love them:
Graduation Gifts for your TCK (Communicating Across Boundaries)
This post was part of the inspiration for mine. In it the always wonderful Marilyn brings together a wealth of gift ideas along with reasons they can be helpful. I was honoured to see Misunderstood listed as one of eight excellent books on her list of suggestions.
The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition (Tina L. Quick)
Marilyn includes this book in her list, but it’s worth its own mention here as well. This is a book I recommend a lot, and it includes lots of great practical advice for TCKs heading toward university.
7 Thoughts for Graduating TCKs (A Life Overseas)
Elizabeth writes to graduating TCKs, sharing seven really helpful things to keep in mind – such as delayed processing, accepting paradox, grief, and the need for grace.
You are not special – a graduation address (Michele Phoenix)
This is a wonderful (fictional) graduation address for TCKs as they go out into the world. It sounds harsh, but it’s really not. Michele points out a potential pitfall TCKs can fall into and explains that “it’s easy to confuse being fortunate with being better.”
Third Culture Kids – From Overseas to Undergrad (RNG International)
Helpful insights into what the transition may look like on the other side for those going into university after high school, with some practical suggestions and thoughts from TCKs.
And finally, a good resource that applies to some is Interaction International – who run re-entry seminars for TCKs moving to the US.
Click here to read more posts about Third Culture Kids, transition, and expatriate experiences.
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