Life of a TCK

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At Juniper Village of Mount Joy, Residents gathered together to learn about the life of a TCK, Third Culture Kid.

By definition, TCKs are “people raised in a culture other than their parents or the country named on their passport, for a significant part of their developmental years”. This term was first coined by researchers John and Ruth Useem in the 1950’s, who used it to describe the children of American citizens who were living or working abroad.

Grace Barton, one of our own Connections Associates, who is a TCK, led the discussion and shared her own experiences of having  grown up as a missionary kid in Honduras ,Central America until the age of 14, and then in Peru, South America at the age of 17 and 19. On display for this discussion group were various souvenirs and items depicting some of the cultural arts and crafts from Central  America. During this event, residents  also shared individual definitions of culture, particularly, American and local culture , as well as reading a dictionary’s definition of the word “culture”.  The collective definition of culture was that it included the customs, arts, social institutions, traditions, world views, way of life, foods, clothing, beliefs, behaviors, and customs of a society or nation. Residents shared some of their own individual customs, traditions, familiar arts and music from their own life experience. As for a TCKs, having a “Third” culture, which blends two or more cultures created during developmental years, results in forming  a unique style of life, shared and learned by persons who are in process of relating their societies to each other.

Some pros and cons were addressed in relation to having developed a “Third Culture”. As a positive aspect, TCKs are particularly adept at building relationships with other cultures, while not possessing a cultural identity of their own. TCKs also have an expanded worldview, think “outside of the box”, and have an overall understanding that there is more than one way to look at situations to which they are exposed. Conversely, when TCKs return to a culture that is homogenous in their belief system, an expanded worldview is perceived as offensive or useless. Another con is that TCK‘s have confused loyalties between their passport country  and the one in which they grew up.

 The ‘take away’  from this discussion was that, while everyone is unique in their own cultural identity, acceptance and understanding of other cultures can be very enriching and can also expand one’s World View.

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