The experience of living overseas as a child is very different to the experience of living overseas as an adult. The impact of childhood experiences last a lifetime. They are formative experiences – they teach us how the world works. We all internalise ‘lessons’ from our childhood experiences.
TCKs grow up between cultures, learning lessons from more than one cultural viewpoint. Often these messages contradict one another, and learning to navigate this conflict is part of what makes a TCK. The lessons they learn about how the world works, therefore, often come less from individual cultures and more from the fact that they juggle more than one cultural viewpoint. The experience of being “in between” greatly affects their understanding of the world.
As I interviewed hundreds of TCKs there were a lot of repeated themes, and even specific phrases, that became familiar. These were the lessons these TCKs had learned through their childhood experiences. In this post I’m introducing one of the most common lessons of a TCK childhood: Everyone leaves.
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In an article in ChinaSource, Tanya Crossman, author of Misunderstood, explains not only what the three cultures are, but why they matter.
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“I was shot at 10.30 at night, and I remembered the first 15 minutes but then had no recollection of anything for around 6 hours, although I am told I was never unconscious, until I had had chest drains inserted in the Emergency Room of a hospital in the capital. I really wanted to know what happened during that time, so I asked all of those who were with me at the time and wrote it all down. That became Chapter 5 of my first book and just sat there for the next 4 years until I started writing seriously in 2010.”
Summertime author, Tanya Crossman, reflects on the 2017 Family in Global Transitions Conference at the Hague.
Attending the Families In Global Transition 2017 conference in The Hague (Netherlands) a few weeks ago reminded me that supporting TCKs and expatriate families is what I really care about, the field I want to work in.
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