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Third Culture Kids (TCKs): Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere

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Jeong Choi

on 27 March 2015

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Transcript of Third Culture Kids (TCKs): Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere

What is a Third Culture Kid (TCK)?
a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside his or her parents' culture.
relationships to all of the cultures, but no full ownership in any
the sense of belonging in relationship to others of similar background.
Missionary kids, international business parents' children, military "brats," government diplomats' children, etc.
What are advantages?
Enthnorelative > Enthnocentric
Bilingualism or multilingualism
4 times more likely to earn a bachelor's degree
Independent, flexible, creative, risk takers
The Effect of Cross-culture on Emotional Stability
First Culture:
Parent's/ passport's Home country
Second Culture:
Host Country
Isolation and Adjustment

Struggle to attain the membership and acceptance
Struggle to develop identity as an adolescent because of cultural code-switching
"What do people do? What do I do?"
Instead of "Who am I?"
Lower level of self-esteem
Higher level of stress (66%)
Anxiety (43%)
Depression (43 %)
What else can we do?
Transition Programs
Large group psycho-educational sessions
Inform them about grief, anxiety and depression
Help them find places where they can feel belonging (ex. church)
Individual or small group counseling
A safe place to "tell their story"
Social activities (task typical to living in the US)
pumping gas
asking for a job application in a retail store
buying groceries on a limited budget
opening a bank account

Davis, P., Headley, K., Bazemore, T., Cervo, J., Sickinger, P., Windham, M., & Rehfuss, M. (2010). Evaluating impack of transition seminars on missionary kids’ depression, anxiety, stress, and well-bing. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 38(3), 186-194.

Dewaele, J., & van Oudenhoven, J. P. (2009). The effect of multilingualism/multiculturalism on personality: No gain without pain for their culture kids? International Journal of Multilingualism, 6(4), 443-459.

Hoersting, R. C., & Jenkins, S. R. (2010). No place to call home: Cultural homelessness, self esteem and cross-cultural identities. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 35, 17-30.

Pollock, D. C. & Van Reken, R. E. (2001). Third culture kids:The experience of growing up among worlds. Yarmouth, Maine: Nicholas Brealey.

Vivero, V. N., & Jenkins, S. R. (1999). Existential hazards of the multicultural individual: Defining and understanding “cultural homelessness.” Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 5(1), 6-26.
What Can We Do?
Help them construct their "cross-cultural identity"
Educate them about "cross-cultural identity"
Let them know the term "Third Culture Kids"
"I grew up as a Third Culture Kid."
Help them name fear
Help them name their losses
Third Culture Kids (TCKs)
Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere by Jeong Choi
Kwangju, South Korea
(Pullock & Van Reken, 2001)
(Pullock & Van Reken, 2001)
(Dewaele & van Oudenhoven, 2010; Skipper, 2000)
The Personality Dimensions of TCKs vs. Non-TCKs
(Dewaele & van Oudenhoven, 2009)
So, Why Are TCKs Emotionally Unstable?
Across The World
Cross-cultural Life
High Mobility
Social and cultural norms
Always feeling different
Homelessness: No Place to Call Home
Emotionally detached from any place, culture or ethnicity

Restlessness: The Migratory Instinct

"where I am today is temporary."
(Hoersting & Jenkins, 2010; Pollock & Van Reken, 2001; Vivero & Jenkins, 1999)
(Davis et al., 2010; Vivero & Jenkins, 1999)
(Dewaele & van Oudenhoven, 2009)
(Pollock & Van Reken, 2001)
(Davis et al., 2010)
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