Who are Third Culture Kids?

From the desk of Shawn Rhoads, Director of Residential Life and International Programs:

Many of you have grown up right here in east Texas and have enjoyed the southern hospitality that we all live and breathe. Other folks may live their entire lives in another land and steep within that culture all their days. But what about the person who holds a passport from one land yet lives in another? What culture do they have?

Well, they have a third culture. They are what is known as a third culture kid, a TCK. They are an interesting amalgamation of both their home country and culture, combined with the culture of country in which they reside. Those two cultures are melded into a fascinating third culture all their own.

An illustration of this could be found in the observation of Thanksgiving, one of the most sentimental holidays in America. Imagine living as an American in a different nation. The last week of November rolls around and there’s no Thanksgiving program performed at the kids’ school, no pumpkins and hay bales adorning any front porches, no plans to meet together with masses of loved ones for the Thanksgiving feast. Instead you and your family move the annual meal to Saturday since no one gets off on Thursday for Thanksgiving. Mom scrounges around to try to find the ingredients to the most beloved dishes of Thanksgiving that are quite common in the States but unusual in this country. It’s not quite the same as back in the States, but the custom is preserved.

In this illustration you see two cultures lived out in one land. The same takes place not just once a year but everyday within a TCK. They carry within them their home culture and combine that with their current culture, creating a new and different culture altogether – a third culture embodied and lived out in that person. It is a fascinating phenomenon that produces phenomenal individuals.

While this may be a new concept to many reading this blog, to the Christian it is not new at all. Is not the Christian a third culture kid of sorts, a citizen of two nations? In the Christian is found both the cultures of heaven lived out here on earth coalescing to create a new and different citizen, awaiting the day when they can finally go home to their true home.
Take some time to get to know these fascinating young people, these third culture kids who liven our community. After all, do we not all share the identity of a TCK?

What has your experience with being a citizen of two nations been like?