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
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."
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.
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.
What does this all mean? (from the perspective of a self-identified TCK who grew up in the UAE)
UAE Population: 5.1 million* Emiratis: 19% Other Arabs & Iranians: 23% South Asian: 50% Other expats: 8% (Westerners and East Asians) *https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ae.html
Left: Grade 1 - Al Ain, UAE (90-91) Right: Grade 2 - Al Ain, UAE (91-92)
Why does everyone else know where they are from and why don’t I know where I am from?
False assumption No sense of belonging anywhere Constantly searching for identity Foreigner in your own country growing up (UAE and Philippines)
Multiple attachments to different places, better cultural understandings