Kerri is one of my interns this summer. I’ve been telling her she needs to be my intern for the last 7 years. She finally gave in and is here to help me for the next few months. In just a day and a half she has cleaned and organized more than half my office (if you know me, you realize it’s a huge feat), helped me plan big parts of the summer, and basically proved herself invaluable. She rocks!
Hey, Kerri! So, how old are you?
Where have you lived in the last 20 years?
Austria, Romania, and the USA. In the USA I’ve lived in Los Angeles, CA; Littleton, CO; Chicago, IL; and Hayden Lake, ID.
Where do you live now and why do you live there?
At the moment I’m staying in Littleton because I’m on summer break. It gets kind of complicated because I moved to Chicago in January to go to Moody Bible Institute. I’m currently in Littleton for the summer, and I’m moving to Northern in September. Essentially I’m a rolling stone.
How many times have you moved?
13 or 14 times and another two are on the way.
Why do you move so much?
Life calls me to different places at different times. I go wherever God tells me. The last 5 have been of my own choice.
Why are you a TCK?
My parents are missionaries. Our lives have led to a lot of travel.
Have you learned anything from moving so much?
I have. I’ve learned that no matter where I am I cannot base my identity on where I am or the people that surround me. Rather my identity must be firmly rooted in Christ or else I stumble.
That’s big. Anything else?
I really do love to travel. It’s a part of me. I really believe it will be part of my life. I’ve learned that the things that happen in my life are there for a reason.
The fact that I love to travel is there for a reason. The fact that I’ve lived in three countries is there for a reason. The fact that I’m an MK is there for a reason. God has woven a beautiful tapestry and it’s not until we step back that we can see the beautiful pattern.
It’s not that it’s easy. Being an MK has a lot of perks, but it’s not easy. I’ve learned from transitioning so often that it’s not easy but it has reason. I know one day I’ll learn what those reasons are. God does not allow things to come into our lives unless there’s a purpose.
What are some of the perks of being a TCK?
Travel! I love it. I’ve had the rare opportunity to live in another culture for 14 years. I’ve learned to love and appreciate cultures other than what I am used to.
I’ve gotten to see a lot of the world.
Language—I’m fluent in German. I don’t think my German is perfect but I can converse.
You grow very close to your family when you’re a TCK because you go through it together.
Through it all I’ve gained a greater world view and perspective. It’s like that preschool toy where you put the blocks in the different holes. It was hard to be in the USA two years ago. My block did not fit. God put some amazing Americans in my life and they’ve helped me. Now, I can fit in both places. People told me this skill of switching cultures was inherent, but I disagree. It’s something I’m learning. I can do it so much better now, but it’s still not perfect. It has been a long process.
Do you have any stories about your process of transitioning and learning how to fit in the American hole?
Well, it’s hard to find one story because it didn’t happen in just one moment. When I first arrived in the US and started my freshman year at Biola, I learned that the majority of people my age really didn’t care or understand what it meant that I grew up in another culture. I look and sound like an American; that didn’t help.
Over time God brought people into my life who did care and showed interest in my life. They helped open my eyes to the joy in American life.
Do you think growing up as a TCK has any disadvantages?
I would say the pros definitely outweigh the cons, but the cons definitely exist. You never really feel like you belong one place or another. With time and maturity you learn to deal with the fact that you never really belong anywhere and you deal with the conflicting cultural messages. It’s easier to become a chameleon.
You say good-bye a lot. You’re always saying good-bye whether it’s to people or places.
The reality of being an MK is that you’re always mssing something—old home, new home, old friends, new friends, parents—you’re always missing something.
Any advice for soon to be TCKs?
Learn to let go. I know that sounds strange, but you have to learn to let go. Be OK with where you are and learn to adjust. You have to be OK with your life being not what you want it to be all the time.
When I was a senior in high school I would have FLIPPED if you told me the things that were going to happen in the next few years. It would not have been OK.
But when God pulls, you need to let go. His way is best. Whatever is coming is going to be best no matter how much transition and heartache is ahead. God gives me what I need not necessarily what I want.
Let go. I promise it’s going to be hard, but you’ll get through. Eventually. Be ready for it to be hard.
Be gracious with people. No matter what culture you’re in, you’ll always want the other one. Be patient with people. Give them grace. It’s hard because you don’t want to, but you need to.
Be patient with yourself. It’s OK if it takes you 20 years to adjust. You’ll get there. No one said that to me till this last October. I was talking to a friend of a friend and he understood how hard it was for me. After I said I felt like I should’ve finished transition, he told me to be patient with myself. It struck me very deeply.
Any advice for parents of TCKs?
It’s hard for parents of TCKs because they’re going through it, but they’re going through it at a different level. Parents of TCKs are generally monocultural. They’ve grown up, developed, and now are learning to adapt.
As a TCK you’re growing up in the midst of change. You’ll never fully understand what you’re kids are going through. You can’t assume that you know what they’re feeling.
Anything else you want the world to know?
I still think Austria is the best place in the world; that’s not going to change.
I feel like I’ve been through the fire of constant learning these past few years. The greatest thing I’ve learned is finding my identity in Christ.
What do you plan to do with your life?
I want to go into ministry. I’d really love to work with children and families. I don’t exactly know where or what that is. I know God has given me a desire to love and work with people; somehow he’s going to work it out. I rest in the knowledge of his sovereignty and goodness.