The Three Cultures of a TCK

Last week I wrote a guest post for China Source, explaining the Three Cultures of a Third Culture Kid. I give a brief rundown of this in my general intro to TCKs, but my post for China Source expands on this, and includes a few quotes from Misunderstood.

I explain not only what the Three Cultures are, but why they matter – in particular, the separation of where I live, and where I am legally recognised.

The experience of growing up in places where I do not have legal recognition has an emotional impact. The country I legally belong to doesn’t completely feel like home, but I am not accepted by the country that does feel like home.

These relationships to countries are why the Third Culture matters.

“The third culture is the “childhood home” of TCKs. It is located not in geography, but in relationships. While the first and second cultures are primarily about place, the third culture is about experience: the experience of growing up between first and second cultures that do not perfectly align.”

I believe in the benefit of talking about Third Culture as a category of experience. There are hundreds of thousands of TCKs around the world, unique individuals who cannot be neatly described by a list of common characteristics. But they do share a particular type of experience, which impacts the way they see the world.

“Childhood for TCKs is rooted in communities that move on, in a mixture of cultures and places that is difficult to replicate. The constant transition of international life (whether I leave, or others leave me) has an impact, and there are unique experiences that go with expatriate living. These are the backdrop of an international childhood. These shared experiences of childhood are what the third culture is all about.”

Read the full post on China Source: The Three Cultures of a Third Culture Kid

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