Where Am I From? A TCK Perspective Growing up in the Middle East
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Where Am I From? A TCK Perspective Growing up in the Middle East

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Third-Culture Kid (TCK) perspective growing up in the United Arab Emirates

Third-Culture Kid (TCK) perspective growing up in the United Arab Emirates

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  • Only officially became a Canadian citizen in January 2009. However, I have felt Canadian ever since I first stepped foot in the country in 2002, 9 years ago, when I moved to Waterloo, Ontario from the UAE for my university studies right after high school.Given all of this, I am really not too sure where I am from. Reality is a lot more complex.
  • I want to show you a video to provide a bit more perspective of what it is like to not know where you are from, and to be constantly on the move and searching for your identity. I will then discuss and share with all you the concept of what a Third-Culture Kid is, and how I came across this term as I was searching for my own identity when I was in high school growing up in the United Arab Emirates.
  • Ok, so how many of you can partially relate to what we saw in the film clip? In the introduction, the title of the film was “Les Passagers” – French for “The Passengers”, and then TCK. What does TCK mean?
  • For one thing, as you’ve seen from the video, as a TCK, you really don’t have a sense of belonging to any particular geographical place or location. You are constantly searching for identity and you get frustrated when you don’t feel like you belong anywhere. - In UAE, considered Filipino. In Philippines, considered foreigner. Elsewhere, pick and choose: Philippines or UAE
  • TCKs have the capacity to understand other cultures and pick-up languages fairly easily. Languages: English, French… Tagalog, Cebuano, Hungarian. Adjust to cultural mindset… UAE, Canada, Philippines. Showcase examples. (yalla, yahabibi… calling a waiter in Cebu). Koszonom in Vienna
  • All of a sudden, I have come to realize that I now have friends and contacts in many different places around the world as a result of constantly putting myself in ‘international’ experiences. Case in point, all of you sitting here today. As I was putting this presentation together, I have come to realize that where I am the most comfortable is being surrounded by people from many different cultures and experiences, providing me with a sense of commonality with humanity.


  • 1. Where Am I From?
    A Third-Culture Kid (TCK) Perspective Growing up in the United Arab Emirates
    Renjie Butalid
    March 18, 2011
    Intercultural Communication
    Prof. GyörgyCsepeli
    Kőszeg, Hungary
  • 2.
  • 3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FouOIB_AAfw&
  • 4. Third-Culture Kids (TCKs)*
    The term “Third Culture Kids” was first coined by sociologist Ruth Hill Useem in the 1950’s, after spending a year on two separate occasions in India conducting research on North American children living in India.
    Initially, the term "third culture" was used to refer to the process of learning how to relate to another culture.
    *Bell, 1997; Downie, 1976; Gerner et al., 1992; Useem, Jordan, & Coffrell, 1998
  • 5. Third-Culture Kids (TCKs)
    Useem used the term "Third Culture Kids" because TCKs integrate aspects of their birth culture (the first culture) and the new culture (the second culture), creating a unique "third culture.”
    In time, they also started to refer to children who accompany their parents into a different culture as "Third Culture Kids."
  • 6. Third-Culture Kids (TCKs)
    In the past, most of these children were from missionary, diplomatic, or military families;
    And recently, include children whose parents line of work include intergovernmental agencies, educators, international NGOs, and international media.
  • 7. Third-Culture Kids (TCKs)
    TCKscope rather than adjust, becoming “a part of” and “apart from” whatever situation they happen to be in.
    Other terms that have been used to describe these children include: Global Nomads, hidden immigrants, transnationals, transculturals, internationally mobile children, and missionary kids.
  • 8. What does this all mean?
    (from the perspective of a self-identified
    TCK who grew up in the UAE)
  • 9.
  • 10. UAE Population: 5.1 million*
    Emiratis: 19%
    Other Arabs & Iranians: 23%
    South Asian: 50%
    Other expats: 8%
    (Westerners and East Asians)
  • 11. Left: Grade 1 - Al Ain, UAE (90-91)
    Right: Grade 2 - Al Ain, UAE (91-92)
  • 12. Why does everyone else know where
    they are from and why don’t I know
    where I am from?
  • 13. False assumption
    No sense of belonging anywhere
    Constantly searching for identity
    Foreigner in your own country growing up (UAE and Philippines)
  • 14. Multiple attachments to different places,
    better cultural understandings
  • 15.
    • Better capacity to understand other cultures
    • 16. Easily pick up other languages: English, French, Arabic, Tagalog (Filipino), Cebuano (local dialect), Hungarian
    • 17. Easily adjust to local cultural mindset and context (Middle East, North America, Asia, Europe)
  • Many different experiences and connections all over the world
  • 18. Thank You
    (Shukran) شكرا