Great question! A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is “an individual who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having ownership in any. Although elements of each culture are assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.” (Pollock and VanReken)
Basically TCKs grow up outside their parents’ culture. They identify with parts of two or more cultures, but don’t really have a claim on any of them. A TCK may have grown up in Nigeria, Malaysia, and Russia but have an American passport. This TCK can relate to all four cultures, but doesn’t always feel like any one culture can relate to him/her. Instead of being rooted in places (though they’re awfully fond of many places), the TCK is rooted in people who have had similar experiences.
So, who are TCKs?
Most TCKs have parents who work in the Department of Defense, the Diplomatic Corps, international business, humanitarian aid or missions. There are those whose parents do other things, but those are the big categories.
What’s your job, Sheryl?
The two second answer is this–I work with TCKs and their parents. I help create and implement training programs for soon-to-be- TCKs before they leave their passport country. I help debrief TCKs as they return to the USA. I help train those who will work with them. I consult with parents to help them make good educational and developmental choices for their children. I have lots of fun.
Where do you do this?
I’m based in Colorado, but I get to work all over the world.
And you get paid for this?
Ummmmm . . . yes and no. I have partners in this endeavor who are great stewards of their money. They make regular contributions so I can do this. These partnerships have an incredible impact on hundreds of people around the world.
Do you need more partners?
Definitely! If you’d like to partner with me, just let me know! I’ll tell you how to get involved. I rely on the financial support of individuals and groups to do my job. Having the opportunity to educate people about TCKs and what I do is huge for me. If you’d like to learn more or have me come and share with your small group, community group, school, civic organization or church contact me. I’d love to do that.