We have WHO around us? That is what I often hear.
TCK is the acronym for Third Culture Kids. In the book,
Third Culture Kids, Growing up Among Worlds, that is like the “bible” of TCKs, here is the definition:
“A traditional third culture kid (TCK) is a person who spends a significant part of his or her first eighteen years of life accompanying parent(s) into a country that is different from at least one parent’s passport country (ies) due to a parent’s choice of work or advanced training.”
In one way or another most of our lives criss-cross with a TCK. We may be the parents of TCKs, our kids may go to school with TCKs, they could be international students living abroad and maybe we have TCKs at our church and at our YWAM base or location. The list is just about endless.
We are one of those families with TCKs
We are so thankful for the many friends that helped us on this journey of raising our kids in our home away from home, so to speak. We did not have any of our natural family living here in Czech while the kids were growing up, but we have many friends and co-workers who helped build into our kids’ lives. We are so thankful for our family though, who kept in touch with our kids, let us stay in their homes while visiting, and loved them along the way.
Our kids are now “grown” (just saying they will always be our “kids”) and are out of the country going to University. They (and WE) survived their first year there (Without us!). Even in a weird year with the pandemic going on.
I became more aware of the TCK concept in the earlier years when our kids were attending a Czech basic school. To supplement more of the English language and to network, we went to the SHARE educational conferences in Hungary. It was a great way to connect with other families and international educators. The SHARE staff are amazing and they helped us in many ways. We were able to consult with academic advisers and receive academic assessments.
Although we would occasionally visit the States to see family, friends and supporters, we realized our kids’ culture was a blend of Czech and American. Their original nationality is American but many of their behaviors or thinking and actions are more Czech. Home to them was Czech and America was more a place where relatives lived. Actual day to day life was probably somewhere in the middle.
Initially the kids went to Czech school and were involved in after school activities with their Czech friends. They also had American and international friends, so language and customs were mixed.
The kids eventually attended an international school, CISP. Their education was then in English and there were families from literally all over the world. We treasure many of the relationships built there over the years.
What an amazing heritage to have such a blend of people, cultures and extended family.
Behind this rich cultural blend there can be some things that are unique to the TCK.
Here are some quotes from the Third Culture Kid book that I thought were helpful in the understanding of TCKs:
“The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any.”
“Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in the relationship to others of similar background.”
We have witnessed both of these statements in our children. At University their best friends are international students some who are also TCKs. Before they plunged into life in America I was glad they were able to attend a seminar from the Narramore Christian Foundation on MK ReEntry. (MK is short for Missionary Kid) This was a practical seminar that helped them transition to life in North America after growing up in Central Europe. They were able to process the impact of their TCK life. They explored some of the joys and griefs, and came away encouraged and empowered to understand the unique and valuable people they are.
These re-entry transitions and topics apply to not only kids going “back” to America, but it also applies to kids transitioning throughout all of Europe and the world.
Whether we are parents, caregivers, friends or colleagues, it is great if we can gain some insight into the TCK world. If we want to help build more resilient people, families and missionaries, we can start right here at home…. wherever that might be! It is my desire to see us grow in greater understanding of TCKs.
If interested you can check out these different sources: book; Third Culture Kids by D.Pollock, R. Van Rekan and M. Pollock, SHARE Education Services, www.shareeducation.org, Narramore Christian Foundation www.ncfliving.org
After having the desire to do missions in the Czech Republic, Robin was led by the Lord two serve this nation over thirty years ago. She met and married her husband Roger Harsh and God blessed their family with two kids. They decided to do a family DTS in Dunham, Quebec Canada in 2002/3 and have have been serving with YWAM in many different capacities since. Weather in family ministries, serving the red light district or investing in her kids Robin has a heart of excellence and humility in all she does and wants to further help other missionary family’s raising TCKs.