Tuesday, January 20, 2009


...We They Can

There is hope for my kids, the so-called Third Culture Kids (TCK*) or Global Nomads.

On this day of changes in the States, I remember reading an article a few weeks ago about how Barack Obama, himself a TCK, (Father from Kenya, Mother from Kansas, grew up in Indonesia) has packed his staff with “Third Culture Kids”

John Quincy Adams lived in France, and young Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited Europe often enough to master French and German, but Barack Obama is the first modern American president to have spent some of his formative years outside the United States. It is a trait he shares with several appointees to the new administration: White House advisor Valerie Jarrett was a child in Tehran and London, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was raised in east Africa, India, Thailand, China and Japan as the son of a Ford Foundation executive, and National Security Advisor James L. Jones was raised in Paris. (Also, Bill Richardson, tipped as Secretary of Commerce, grew up in Mexico City.)
Of course they can...

Third Culture Kids usually have:

  • An expanded worldview: because they have experienced, first hand, that not everyone in the world speaks, thinks, acts or feels alike
  • An enriched, three-dimensional knowledge of other cultures: sometimes even making it hard for them to really know their own.
  • Adaptability: they learned when they were children how to be and act in very different circumstances – school rooms, neighborhoods, homes.
  • Good observational skills: because they have spent some time at the sidelines, watching as outsiders

I wanted to finish this post with this quote: A reporter once asked former-Communist Premier of China Zhou Enlai what he thought was the impact of the 1789 French Revolution, to which he replied: “It is too soon to tell.

* TCK refers to someone who [as a child] has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture". The term was coined buy sociologist Ruth Hill Useem in the 1960s.