TCK Project #3 – Oreal

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Meet Oreal, a TCK born and raised in Singapore.

1.What do you usually say if someone asks you where you’re from?

Before I start, I just want to say that I’m a different type of TCK. I’m Eurasian – few generations of mixes. So I’m pretty much as Singaporean as Singaporean can get. So of course, I’d say that I’m from Singapore. Some would look at me funny, and that’s when I try to explain to them the very concept of a Singaporean-Eurasian.

2. What different cultures are you “made up of”?

I don’t even know anymore – pretty much every race you can find in Singapore – Chinese (Surname’s Goh), Malay, and I think I’ve got some influences from Goa. And there’s Dutch, British, Irish even, and Portuguese in the bloodline. Who knows I might I have been a Royal, I’d like to think that I’ve got some in me. Explains why I’m such a princess.

3. How has that impacted your education/career?

Hasn’t really negatively impacted my education/career much because I AM Singaporean. But I would say being mixed has given me some opportunities. For one, people I meet remember my face, and that’s something you want when you’re in school, and when you’re working – to be noticed and remembered, no?

I meet a lot of people now from all over the world, and one positive thing about being a TCK would be that I can get along with different people, I get along with Singaporeans as easy as I get along with people from all over the world. Some Singaporeans tend to be a little less open to mixing around, I must say.

I guess at work, people like the mix in culture because I can think like a Singaporean but I’m not totally foreign to the western as well. Best of both worlds.

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4. Have you ever felt the “need” to fight racism? Or counter ignorant statements about different cultures?

YES DEFINITELY. Think this might be my cause in life. I’ve been struggling with this for a long time now. Because even though I’m Singaporean, I sometimes feel like I’m in no man’s land. Even when I was growing up, I’d often get different treatment from the people around i.e. taxi drivers, service staff etc.… My friends were lovely though.

Some people think I’m ‘ang moh’, or some think I’m Singaporean Malay, it’s just basically hard to look and figure it out – but why does that matter? I’ve been treated rudely, been cheated, given bad service, been called ‘Stupid ang moh’, heard someone ask ‘what’s this Asian girl doing here?’, been outcasted in social settings… because I was either too ‘Asian’ or too ‘White’, or neither ‘Asian’ nor ‘White’.

And because I have friends who are Singaporeans and friends who aren’t, I listen to both sides of the story, and my god do I hear the most ignorant statements and mindsets ever. It makes me angry and sad.

I’m passionate about this because I’m a victim of this in my own country, and I do my part to stand up for the minority and the different cultures.

5. What country is “home” to you currently and why?

Singapore is home, of course. My family is here and my friends are here and I can’t imagine my life without Roti Prata. But lately, as I’ve grown older and am exposed to the ‘outside’ world, I’m starting to see a lot of discrimination and narrow mindedness, and I’m starting to feel like maybe I should find a new home?

When I was in school, my friends loved me for who I was and there were others like myself, so I didn’t think there was anything wrong. I’ve heard my dad complaining about this then, but I never really understood, until I started seeing it for myself… it breaks my heart.

6. What kind of TCK would you say you are?

A TCK who fits the system. My family culture is a little more open/liberal. We’ve got a mix of the western and asian culture, beliefs and mindset – sometimes not very acceptable to Singaporeans as they’d expect me as a Singaporean to be aligned with them. But apart from that, I don’t see myself struggling to keep up. I don’t exactly fit in the system as much, but I don’t stick out like sore thumb, so I’m all good.

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7. Do you picture yourself settling in a specific country? Why?

ANYWHERE WITH FOUR SEASONS PLEASE. You can’t have summer all year round. Seriously, I’ve thought of UK in the past, maybe Australia. I just need to be somewhere with a slower pace of life, somewhere where I can stop to smell the roses (hate roses lol) and somewhere my children can play and enjoy their childhood the way my parents made me enjoy mine. I want to be able to sit on the grass and admire the sky without people walking by and wondering if I’m crazy. Also, there are a lot of ants on the grass in Singapore.

 

 

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A Different Kind of Christmas

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Spending your Christmas far away from your family is not unusual for TCKs, although it does remain surprising to others who have never spent a Christmas away from their loved ones. I still remember the look on my college’s face when she asked where I was spending Christmas. It’s during these kinds of times where you might end up questioning your choices. Although I’ve spent a total of 3 Christmas days away from family in the past 23 years, the most painful one was this year.

I feel that it’s because, as you grow older, you tend to realise how important family is and that feeling echoes in everyone’s hearts whether they are a TCK or not. Especially if you have a religious background, Christmas is a time where you are bound to reunite with the family, no questions asked. The first two Christmas days I spent apart from the family seemed like no big deal.I was used to this whole moving around thing. However, as a TCK, it feels like the more I’ve grown older and have had the possibility to make my own choices as to where I want to live, the more I’ve realised that I could define home as wherever my family was.

This year, I’m about 7,364 kilometres away from home. In a country where it doesn’t snow and where they don’t actually celebrate Christmas. My family got together and had a nice home cooked Christmas dinner. Any regrets? None. It’s painful only because I simply miss them and because, well, I’ve realised how important family is.

When you move around and change cities, countries or school, family is the only constant you’ll have which is why, they’re pretty much your “home”. And you realise that even more when you spend Christmas with a loving family who is extremely close with one another. 

The 12 Fish of Christmas

By Isabella 

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As a TCK, naturally traditions collide.

On the 8th we decorate the house with lights, holly, ivy and mistletoe, the tree and a nativity set, as time goes on, more and more characters fill the nativity.

December 13th comes la Befana (the good witch) to children, who showers them with gifts, or coal if they have been naughty. Adults just give each other chocolate.

As school holidays begin and there is time before the Christmas rush begins, the family goes to various Christmas markets in Germany and France in search for Scandinavian gnomes (Nisse) to decorate the house with and unique baubles to decorate the tree with, so our collection from Kazakhstan, Poland, the US, Italy and Britain may grow.

My Christmas starts on the 24th, with the appearance of the first star. This is when everyone will sit and have dinner together. This is called Wigilia. Under the tablecloth is hay, essentially from the manger that Christ was born in. No red meat is served under Polish and Italian tradition, only 12 different fish dishes to symbolise the 12 Apostles and beetroot soup. If one was to look around the table, one chair is always empty, in case a lonely wanderer was to be in need of food. This all being tradition in Poland brought to the household by my mother. Who will end the meal with gingerbread cake – Piernik, a favourite.

The 25th starts with the exchange of gifts, but also Italian liquor, Bombardino, traditionally served in the Alps. Then a tour of the presepi, various nativity sets set up by all the towns in Italy and of course we prepare for dinner. This being a mix of Italian and British tradition, naturally we have turkey, mince pies, Christmas pudding, Brussels sprouts, mulled wine, but also pannetone, chicken liver canapés (a Tuscan tradition), polenta and chicken soup. A harmonious British-Italian Christmas dinner, needless to say everyone is happily as stuffed as the turkey.

The 26th all tradition stops and the family happily eat left overs while watching films such as The Grinch and play Christmas music. With any luck snow has fallen and everyone is gathered around the fire content with another family Christmas filled with a range of tradition, new and old.

5 things I wish I’d known earlier as a Third Culture Kid

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I didn’t always know I was a Third Culture Kid. For me, whatever I was living was “normal”. Of course, I’d always get that awkward reaction when I was explaining to people where I was from because, well, I’m French but have been in Asia for more than half my life. But I would have never imagined that some harsh times were only the output of an unexpected cultural shock or identity crisis. 

 I only really found out I was a TCK about a year ago, and then ending up founding the Third Culture Kid Project to help me understand the concept better.

Here are some of the things I wish I had known before:

“Always” and “never” – My dad told me this once. Always and never are two words that shouldn’t be in the dictionary. Nothing is fixed or permanent. TCK or not, your comfort zone will never be permanent and to be honest, should never be permanent. You should expect to evolve and grow, constantly.

Don’t worry about it   When I moved back to France, I had real trouble getting along with French people, despite being French. I struggled for the first two years but then came to the conclusion that “it’s ok”. It’s ok not to be liked, it’s ok to say or do things differently, it’s ok to think differently. I always was bothered with the fact that some thought I was arrogant. I was being the exact opposite. I was so afraid I couldn’t fit in or relate. Looking back, I’m still glad I went through this.

Listen to that little voice, the one has been there since the beginning. – You have so much to lose if you don’t. Guaranteed. It’s your authentic self, regardless of the unfamiliar settings you might find yourself in.

Trust – This is a tough one. Many of us are reluctant to trust others because we know we’ll lose them at some point, down the road. We’ll know this is all temporary and well, what’s the point of even trying? Like I wrote, tough one. I’ve come to accept that yes, these things are temporary but you will have more to gain than to lose by trying.

Never lose sight – I know it’s tough to be certain about the future, especially as a TCK, but if you have even the slightest idea about where you want to be in the couple of years, work towards it. Your environment and journey are so uncertain that the slightest certainty will make things seem less chaotic.

Thank you for reading, I truly hope these 5 points help you somehow, wherever you are. 

On a side note, we’re currently working on a project which aims to provide online help to TCKs who need it. You can contribute and I guarantee it will take less than 40 seconds. Please answer the following questions here: “What are the issues you identify or have identified with the most being a TCK?”

The US Elections

By Jasmine 

*Article was written before the election results 

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On November 9th the United States will finally know whether the infamous business man and TV show host or the pantsuit loving and email misusing Secretary of State will be their next president. For many on the outside it has all been one big comedy fest but for those of us on the inside, it has been quite a frightening journey. This election will be the first one I will experience as a resident of the US. For many years I have lived overseas, only hearing about the election through editorials and news reports. Now, I have a front row seat and man, am I disappointed.

Through these past 6 months or so, I have realized the US has more cracks than I thought, from healthcare deficiencies to racial issues. While I am unable to enter the voting booth due to being one year too young, I still avidly follow the race. It is my future that is on the line, after all.

This presidential election is by far the most modern. Candidates are able to communicate with their prospective voters 24/7 with the use of technology, a mode of communication neither candidate has been able to master. Nevertheless, technology allows perspective voters to be more informed. More viewers have been able to watch all four debates in real time, no matter where they are in the world. I was able to watch all the debates on YouTube and so were all the friends I’ve made overseas. I was able to discuss the events with them the next morning, at the latest.

The candidates are also reaching out to the younger generation through the issues of college tuition, LGBT rights and the economy. These are controversial issues that I am starting to see are tearing the country apart. The country, many call my own.

I have found the differences between myself and my citizenship country are many. While I do share some similarities with the average American teenager, I see beyond their four walls. I see beyond their borders that they have constructed and are planning to construct. I see beyond their hatred and fear of the foreign. I thought by now, the United States would realize that its foundation is diverse and by eliminating it, the US would crumble. Respect and dignity are lacking, characteristics I was taught when I was young that our founding fathers were known for. The America I grew up hearing about turned out to be very different in person.

As TCK’s we have a unique perspective and it would be a shame to waste it. By being a part of our local governments, we are able to share that perspective with others, who may not have been as fortunate to travel the world as we have. If you have the chance to be an avid participant in your country’s government, it is an opportunity not to pass up. Whether or not you feel the impact of your participation, your opinion makes a big difference.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Child Brides?

By A.E.R

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Child marriage is a human rights violation. Despite laws against it, the practice remains widespread. Bangladesh has one of thee highest rates of child marriages in the world. 52% of girls are married by the age of 18 and 18% by the tender age of 15 according to UNICEF.

Child marriage is the poisonous product of poverty and gender inequality. Child marriages are very popular in rural areas of Bangladesh. Many impoverished parents do it thinking they are securing their daughter’s future by ensuring her husband will take care of her when they are unable to; but in reality- her life is probably about to be in ruins.

Some parents also wed off their daughter at a tender age to prevent rape; unfortunately they don’t realize that by marrying them off young is actually increasing the chance of rape. In most cases, young brides are uneducated or pulled out of their education so that they can assume household responsibilities.

This limits their opportunities, including future employment aspects. Some parents see their daughter as a burden; and dowries simply complicate the issue. Younger brides typically command smaller dowries creating an incentive for parents to marry their daughters off young. Parents in difficult circumstances may also marry their daughters off young as a source of income, which is a reason why despite the act being illegal, it still takes place.

Ending child marriage requires action in many levels. Bangladesh has taken a step forward and now is a member of the South Asian Initiative To End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC) that adopted a regional plan to end child marriages.

The current age to get married in Bangladesh is 18 for women and 21 for men. Despite the debate to lower the legal age for marriage to 16 for woman, it still remains 18. I’m proud of my country and fully support their plans of putting a stop to child marriages.

Lets hope we can lower the rate of child marriages significantly by 2020. Till then, Joy Bangla!

 

Nameless Faces; Countless Stories

By Zoe Norman (written when 36,000 feet in the air between Albania and the UK!)

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You heard about the Romani people; the nameless whose lives are filled with the whispers of hostility and prejudice, peoples eyes skim past them looking the other way. They are unrecognisable faces weaving in and out of colourful bustling crowds at market stalls in Albania where food crackers and laughing carries into the night air, a place filled with excitement and friendship.

Theirs? A story of overbearing loneliness filled with tales of discrimination, abuse and hurt.

You watch the scene, little children with dirty flip-flops and battled teeshirts run in-between cars trying to get money by playing music. They start to chase each other laughing down the dusty road, a small moment of hopeful joy caught in a timeless society where they are shunned at every doorstep. This is all despite the fact you see no difference in their appearance from anyone else , enchanted you look further peering to watch a young women washing car windscreens.

Her body aches with tension as she leans in the sizzling oppressive heat working tirelessly, not even stoping to wipe the forming sweat from her brow.

All this effort is for a mere 40 leke (40 pence) which she receives carelessly as it is shoved at her by the driver, but, as if by magic at this simple gesture, her entire facial face changes. She looks ecstatic as her face turns upwards towards the sky filled with a moment of untouchable joy, for a second she is a person of dignity and purpose. You can not help but give in to the small sad smile playing on your lips as the traffic lurches forward coughing and spluttering as the scene flashes away.

The Roma population in Albania is estimated to be between 60,000 and 10,000 people with a poverty rate of 78%quickly bringing the terrible statistic to light. These people are like us but face a life of discrimination, cast out of work just because of birth and forced to beg on the hot dusty pavement; swarmed by the mass of people towering over them. For all TCK’s it is distressing to say the least, incomprehensible that a single nationality can determine a future which humans have no say in.

Albania has a longways to go for the Roma but on a brighter note slowly but surely this is happening.

As my friend said “we have to live in the moment, be thankful for what we have; as life may be pulled from under our feet” We need to support organisations as global citizens who help the Roma ( http://theideaspartnership.org/wp/) for a brighter, happier and more tolerant future for all.