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Changing Worlds: Transitions of an Expat Family


Sometimes you just have to start at the beginning!  Do you know all of these terms?

  • Expat – one who is living outside their country.
  • Global Nomads – someone who has lived abroad as a child as a consequence of a parent’s job.
  • TCK – Third Culture Kid – a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture.
  • ATCK – an adult TCK, a TCK’s who has reached adulthood.
  • CCK – Cross Cultural Kid – a person who is living or has lived in, or has a meaningfully interacted with, two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during childhood.
  • ACCK – an adult CCK, a CCK, who has reached adulthood.

Here is a parent presentation, we gave at Pasir Ridge International School, Balikpapan Indonesia. The prezi has several videos in it, so please just hit the little play button on the video if you are interested in what we showed the parents. Please let me know if you’d like some of the workshop information passed on to you.

Why businesses benefit from employing third culture kids

In today’s world, it is easy to take globalization for granted. Many companies today have employees who have grown up everywhere, are based on global offices, have international clients, and have regular teleconferences. Every working day is a cross-cultural encounter.

One product of this global professional lifestyle is the children who are born and raised amidst these mixed cultural contacts and settings. While removed from the rigors of international interactions in the workplace, they face unique cultural challenges of their own through the schools they attend and the friends they make. Often, these encounters differ significantly from the cultural settings at home with their parents. As a result, these children maintain a lifestyle where they constantly migrate between diverse cultural environments at home, at school, and at social contacts.

This is further complicated when their parents’ career faces change, and they must inevitably be uprooted and transplanted to new and unfamiliar places.  Then they must learn to interact in new cultural settings while simultaneously reconciling their identity with the values and experiences internalized in places previously inhabited.

As parents, we all want our kids to be ‘out on their own.’

Pollock and Van Reken describe TCKs as resilient, adaptive and possessing an extraordinary perspective on the world, as a result of their genuinely cross-cultural and highly mobile lifestyle during their formative years. These characteristics translate to valuable skills and assets for future professionals. TCKs are four times more likely than non-TCKs to earn a bachelor’s degree, and forty percent go ahead to earn an advanced degree. Many TCKs pursue work in education, medicine, and other professional positions and are also likely to be self-employed as freelancers or consultants. Multi-lingual TCKs naturally slip into international assignments, skilled jobs in government and the military and are familiar with the process of moving and adjusting to different places. The unique world-view and experiences that many TCKs possess present a definite advantage to many globally minded companies and organizations.

Goals – what are important for your family?

A key thing to remember when living with TCK’s is to remember that their lives are often about both/and realities, not either/or.

Examples:

Many TCKs have an expanded view of the world because they have seen much of it firsthand, but they may not be well versed in the cultural expectations and nuances of their home or passport country.

Many TCKs have a 3-dimensional view of the world. They have seen places and cultural events in person that many others only see in National Geographic magazines.

This mobility also creates chronic cycles of separation and lost. They and their friends are frequently moving. Dealing with the grief that each farewell brings can become a major issue for global families.

PLEASE TAKE ON THIS GOAL!

Most TCKs have friends all over the world. We have even heard of “global families sorting their friends by continents”. Today’s world of social media has helped enormously. A new challenge facing some is to make “in person” friends in the new place rather than spend all of their time on Facebook with friends from a previous location.

You can find one of the best videos on loneliness here: http://www.upworthy.com/loneliness-illustrated-so-beautifully-you-will-need-to-tell-someone?c=upw1

alone but connected

Are you giving up something important?

Many TCKs also face challenges that, unfortunately, manifest themselves professionally. Many TCKs are schooled in educational systems that do not translate to their passport countries. A Korean student, who received her education in English while living in Malawi and Kenya, may not perform well at a university in Korea, where she needs to write papers and give oral presentations in Korean.

As a result, her professional opportunities in Korea will not be as extensive as those for another Korean student who had been raised in the Korean educational system. This challenge is especially pronounced for TCKs, who wish to pursue skilled professions such as medicine and law in their passport countries. Because of their highly specialized terminology, education and proficiency in the language of the passport country is essential for success. Unless TCKs receive supplemental education in these languages, they may miss out on opportunities in these areas.

As globalization becomes more and more a fact of life, TCKs are a model for tomorrow’s professionals.

If you work with the global nomad population, please get Lois Bushong’s book, “Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere: Insights into Counseling the Globally Mobile”. You can get it on Amazon.com either in printed form or electronic form. It is also an excellent tool for families who want to help their children grow as they move around the world.

Importance of family rituals

Rituals are valuable because they are a way to develop a sense of shared joys and positive memories. The most important thing a family ritual can provide is space and time for emotional healing if the family relationships need that time. Good memories help eclipse the upsetting ones. Rituals provide a sense of security and can be soothing.

As a global family what has been your biggest transition? Please share so we can all continue to learn.