The TCK Hub

By Isabella

The TCK Hub.jpg

Imagine a place, where everyone who happens to stumble upon, is a Third Culture Kid. Such a place exists, within the European Schools. Where children of all cultures gather to be educated.

“Side by side, untroubled from infancy by divisive prejudices…will become in mind Europeans, schooled and ready to complete and consolidate the work of their fathers before them, to bring into being a united and thriving Europe.”

The European Schools aim to educate their young, upon entrance into the system, into these values; creating a stronger, United Europe. A place where everyone speaks in several tongues (the school average being 3 upon graduation) so that every one and every culture is understood, that being said, all cultures, history and values being taught to promote tolerance and understanding.

These TCKs enter and leave the system as they please, friends come and go, yet are never forgotten. Every year people leave and people arrive, numbing us to the sensation of loss, as we know we have not lost a friend, but gained a place to stay in another corner of the world.

“The question “where do you come from?” is rarely asked, and there is nothing better than discovering someone of a more complicated background than yourself.” 

No one feels at home in his or her host country, not completely in the least. And when everyone goes back to his or her home country, the feeling is ever stranger. After holidays these experiences are exchanged over lunch and breaks in between classes, bringing the student body ever closer together, knitting them into a family, a place where everyone feels the same and comfortable, no matter how long they have resided there. The European Schools are a sort of hub for TCKs as they all come and go, they transfer between each European School and form new relationships within the community.

Of course, school always ends with a graduation. After graduation, everyone goes off and studies in a different city, country, and continent. No one ever stays in the same place; it’s our second nature to move. It is rare for students to stay and study in the city they graduated high school from, it is almost considered odd. But the relationships last, reunions are held in different cities, Skype and Whatsapp are forever more our best friend.

From this hub, blossomed relationships to last and everlasting memories to be solidified in photographs.

“Nothing lasts forever, and TCKs are experts on the matter.”

 

State of Mind

By Mathilde

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I remember waking up after the Charlie Hebdo attacks had occurred and panic was still all over France. I woke up with messages on Facebook from my friends back in France and friends in Asia.

The French friends had a thread where they would be updating each other on where they were and what was going on. It broke my heart to see my own friends panicked and asking each other where they were. If they were ok. Hearing about people I knew getting shot. At the hospital.

“I was 10,722 km away. I felt helpless, so helpless.”

I took a while to digest what was going on. Both on local and French media sites. Trying to make sense of it all. I cried for an hour. Angry because of this helplessness I felt. Because I felt it was unfair that I was away, tucked in a safe place.

The worst? Being in that safe place where true violence is unknown. People came up to me, apologizing but it felt insincere. My thoughts were screaming: You have no idea how this actually feels.

And that’s ok. Just like I didn’t truly know what it’s like in Syria or Iraq. Just like I could have been insincere about other attacks in other countries. Because, sometimes, you just can’t relate.

“It’s much easier to think of ourselves rather than others.”

Another tough one was having very close Muslim friends bringing religion straight into the event after it happened.

I understand.

Using religion. Conducting attacks in the name of a religion that is not understood is stupid. You’re dirtying one of the world’s most peaceful religions and fuelling the wrong idea to a bunch of idiots who spend their lives in front of TV which reinforces stereotypes and ignorance.

Of course ISIS will claim these attacks. Even if it wasn’t them. They need those to reinforce whatever claims they think they’re making, to reinforcing their own baseless ideologoies.

Yet, when you know people who have been shot.

When you have your family worried because your little brother is close by.

When you hear friends who have always been strong and confident breakdown.

When your comfort zone is not your comfort zone anymore.

It’s tough.

You need to mourn. You need to adjust and make sense of it all.

It’s funny how it’s always those who have never known violence or persecution who speak out the most.

“People who turn into funny social justice warriors and will say: “How about what happened in X country? No one mentions that.””

It’s like crashing someone’s funeral and saying “What about my loss guys?! You’re so selfish!”

Let people mourn first.

Grief a common language.

When I woke up again, to find out that this time it was Nice. I felt numb. I saw Facebook statuses that made me want to delete people off my feed.

I’m numb because violence is becoming the norm. After each attack, there are hashtags, change of profile pictures, “sympathy”, apologies, compassion. Many of these are well-meaning intentions, but many are also empty, superficial ones.

You know what’s lacking? Consistency. Consistency in sympathy, compassion, and the impetus to come together to do great things. Acknowledging there is an issue with media sites trying to sway attacks towards a specific direction, which is sure to benefit upcoming elections.

Fatigue is the word. Flowing on from this desensitisation to the violence.

“If this is becoming the norm, we’re in trouble.”

What also disgusted me is reading these words by the French president right after the attack:

“Nothing will lead us to give in to our will to fight against terrorism. We are going to strengthen our efforts in Syria and Iraq against those who are attacking us on our very soil.”

Responding to violence with violence is too easy. What’s harder is taking a step back and thinking twice about what’s currently going on.

On one side, you’ve got to acknowledge other people’s loss. You have to acknowledge these situations demand rationality. However, bombing countries as a convenient response is wrong. You then have to acknowledge that the name of a religion, and the very foundation of its principles, is being twisted, contorted into something so far removed from its reality. In the midst of it all, think of the other countries that have been suffering.

The result of all these actions, these thoughts, these emotional responses? Fear, more ignorance and violence.

I’m tired.

I’m tired of this world that seems to be falling apart every single day. I’m tired of hearing about Donald Trump or Marine LePen. I’m tired of hearing of people who can’t acknowledge that first world countries can feel pain as well. I’m tired of hearing about all these innocent people who have had to pay the price for violence and hatred, regardless of where they are in the world.

“I’m tired of being torn between a culture – my French culture – that is devolving to pure instability, fuelled by ignorance and a culture, in Singapore, where Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism, Christianity can cohabit.”

I’m tired of hearing French people calling others racist or trying to show the world they’re so culturally tolerant. I’m tired of people who cannot, or will not, try to relate and who’d rather shove their own problems front-row.

I’m not sure where we’re headed but it seems like a very scary place.

Immigrants are Third Culture Kids Too

By Jasmine Terry

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While looking for the latest news on BBC I discovered a series of videos filmed on a GoPro by an immigrant. (These videos may have been taken down as I could not find the series when I went back to cite them.) The man filming was an English teacher who, after speaking badly against his corrupt Middle Eastern government, had to escape his home country. The adventure began under the cover of darkness, early in the morning. A group of immigrants: men, women and even children stood at the shore as a black inflated rubber boat came ashore. At least twenty-five people climbed onto the boat that had the capacity to hold less than a dozen.

Once they pushed off, the crowd began to chatter, a chatter that had died down by the third hour of their voyage. The waves lightly tossed the boat as the passengers thanked their god for the calm seas and a mother pleaded with the others to stop moving, an action that caused her to be anxious. Only a few moments after her pleas, a call was heard from the end of the boat. Water was starting to collect at their feet. Aware of the fate of thousands of other immigrants travelling the seas as they escaped, these passengers calmly assigned jobs amongst themselves. Some kept the children calm while others scooped the water out. The water level rose to their ankles. Bags were thrown off, into the ocean.

“My belongings are not worth more than my life.”

Soon the water levels rose dangerously high and the men decided it would be better if they clung onto the inflated perimeter while the women and children stayed on the boat. Passengers texted loved ones goodbye while others texted their location so that the coast guard would be able to find them. The hours wore on. The water levels surged. Unlike the estimated 2,500 migrants that have lost their lives to the choppy seas and unfit boats, this group survived, picked up by the Turkish Coast Guard a few hours later.

This scene is lived out many times a day. As living situations start to become dangerous families flee, risking everything from belongings to family members. To hear first-hand the conversations and the choppy seas made it feel as if I were on that boat; as if I were praying to my God for a safe voyage as water up to my ankles started to weigh down the boat. My experiences, however, were nothing compared to theirs, but as a 16-year-old on an airplane headed to a country that I didn’t belong to but which considered me a citizen, I felt anxiety and fear, the kind that could be caused by choppy waves and a broken heart.

“I was uprooted from a place that I considered home, spent a year waiting and finally was crushed again as I was uprooted a second time to live in my home country, a country that really was not my ‘home.’”

Many do not understand the feeling of losing all to live in an alien country. Many push aside immigrants as if they are the Brussels sprouts on the plate of a three-year-old; instead, immigrants should be cared for as a fine art collector cares for a 14th century Chinese painting; for they have been worn out by trials and broken by experience.

They, too, are third culture kids (TCKs) and third culture adults (TCAs), immigrants who have left their native culture to live in a foreign culture. This creates within the person a third culture. Internally, a struggle has been formed that is difficult to describe to one who has not been exposed to such an experience. Having to deal with a new culture is hard enough as it is without having to be teased about who you have become. So, I urge you, let your communication with immigrants be friendly and inviting for they deserve to be respected also as you discover new friends among them.

My Struggle As A Third Culture Kid

By AER

My Struggle As A TCK - the third culture kid project

Being a third culture kid, things are hard. From people constantly asking you where you’re actually from to them making fun of what they don’t understand, I’ve been through it all.

As a kid, I changed schools very often. I never moved out of Dhaka, but I travelled so much that it felt as if I was rarely there. I was the kind of person, who would skip school very often due to travelling, which is why my attendance level was always below those of others. It was hard enough – changing schools almost every one or two years – but to add to my misery, I wasn’t the type (and still am not) to make friends very easily. I was very masculine (tomboyish). I’d wear shorts without shaving my legs, a blue jersey and a snapback. Embarrassing, I know! I used to be a big show off. No wonder I didn’t have very many friends.

Back in 2012, I switched to an even smaller school than one I was already in. You see, I always had a fear of joining big schools. I was afraid that I’d get bullied and wouldn’t make any friends. Therefore, I never joined any. So I joined a small Christian school. I am Muslim and back then, at the age of twelve, I hardly knew anything about Christianity except for the fact that they worshipped Jesus and the Bible was their holy book.

“This made it even harder for me to make friends. The only way I could think of making friends was by showing off.”

So I did.

But as soon as I did, people started spreading ill rumors about me. Since it was a small school, rumors spread as fast as windy flames devour a dry land. It was horrible. I’d go home feeling upset; I’d lock myself in the bathroom and cry.

What else could I have done? People that I had thought were my friends were the ones that were taking advantage of me. I knew who they were; I just let them keep taking advantage of me. Although, there was one person, a very close friend, who never took advantage of me. (Let’s call her Friend #1.)

She’d come over to my house and we’d make videos on my iMac, which I promised I would never post or show anyone. They were like our embarrassing little secret. I once lied to her that I owned a private jet. She believed me. I couldn’t believe how she trusted me so much. As the years passed, we grew even closer. I had more friends now, but this time, I was acting my true self. I stopped lying and everyone liked me. At least most people did.

“It took me a while to get over everything; I still can’t say that I have completely. But I am happy.”

I met someone at my cousin’s wedding, whom I can now call my best friend, and over the course of a fight, I became close friends with a girl, who moved here from Vancouver.

She was Pakistani, and I knew quite a bit of Urdu, so we became friends very quickly. Friend #1 was always there for me; she was someone I could confide in and we would talk about everything. And now, a year since then, both the Pakistani friend and Friend #1 are leaving. Those two are the only support system that I have, and I can hardly imagine my life without them. Being at an international school, I now have the cycle memorized. What cycle? The cycle of friendship.

“In this cycle, beautiful people come into your life, they teach you lessons, give you comfort, and then, they leave. But the friendship never dies. I guess it’s all part of the struggle; and I can’t change that. I will be there for all of them, my haters and my friends included.”

Everyone.

Because one way or other, the cycle will start all over again and I will relive the same events. But hopefully, I would do so in a more positive way, and every time, as a stronger person than I was in the last.

The Culture Clash

By Zoe

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Do you remember the moment the plane touched down in your new home: that buzz of excitement for a new future? Some people may be scared or even fearful as they are out of their comfort zone but not us. We, Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and adults (TCAs), are chameleons able to blend into any culture due to our multicultural upbringing yet…

“When that culture contradicts our moral philosophy, can we still adapt?”

 Picture the scene: landing into China, arriving and unpacking your life (contained in your pieces of luggage) and starting to meet others: it is all going well, you had a friendly chat with your neighbor and finally used that Mandarin you were practicing; however, you start to chat with people more often about normal mundane topics, and it goes downhill.

 Chatting enthusiastically about your favorite music band? You get blank looks and awkward silence.

 This seems like nothing (and you brush it off) but then it happens again.

People ask you about something unknown and walk away looking annoyed after you quickly explain that you have not heard about it.

Such an example highlights what life can be like for some TCKs when moving back to the place where the passport says they are ‘from.’It is a dreadful experience, especially when fellow children block the returning TCK for being ‘weird’ or ‘living in a cave’ that can lead to feelings of isolation. It can also happen as adults when talking about politics or controversial topics which are seen as socially unacceptable, especially when speaking out against governmental authority.

For example, the results of Brexit (the United Kingdom leaving the European Union) for many who have built their lives overseas has been a difficult time, especially for those living in the UK. People speaking against freedom of movement and discriminating against immigrants can be heartbreaking for TCKs who have a broader outlook and favor globalization. It can lead to arguments and leave some TCKs questioning themselves and others in such uncertain times.

In general, Third Culture Kids and Adults are well adapted at blending into new cultures. Yet, we too suffer from ‘culture clash’ and unforeseen challenges. It is human nature. This is why this online platform made for TCKs and adults is so important in a global world. It gives people a lifeline and educates them so that, if it can, culture clash can be minimized.