Being a Global Nomad or a TCK

What is a TCK? A third culture kid

According to TCK World:

A TCK is an individual who, having spent a significant part of the developmental years in a culture other than that of their parents, develops a sense of relationship to both. These children of business executives, soldiers and sailors, diplomats, and missionaries, who live abroad, become “culture-blended” persons who often contribute in unique and creative ways to society as a whole.

The individual blend will vary, depending on such factors as the intensity of exposure to a second or third culture, at what age a child comes into contact with a culture other than that of the parents, and the amount of time a young person spends within a second or third culture. The TCK’s roots are not embedded in a place, but in people, with a sense of belonging growing out of relationships to others of similar experience.

Because of frequent changes in geographic locations, a TCK tends to be a very independent person, often a loner. That self-reliance can be turned into an asset as the young person matures, contributing to the TCK’s ability to make decisions and to exercise leadership. However, self-reliance is but one step away from isolation. If a TCK does not need or trust anyone, he or she cannot function in society in a healthy way.

A TCK can never change back into a monocultural person. Parents of TCKs can return “home” to their country of origin, but the children, enriched by having shared life in their formative years with another people, will find characteristics of both cultures in their very being. Acceptance of this fact frees TCKs to be uniquely themselves. In fact, TCKs have tools to be the cultural brokers of the future.

I strongly believe that my experiences as a TCK – both within the US and abroad – are directly responsible for my inability to stay in one place longer than 3 years. I actually love this about myself. As much as I would love to have roots and life-long friends and actually know my third cousin’s names, I much prefer being a citizen of the world.

Although sometimes the idea of roots is nice. I have to admit that I am terribly jealous of DH’s incredible childhood friendships that have managed to last, in a meaningful way, over 30 years.

I prefer the term Global Nomad, because it sounds more fun and adventurous than the technical TCK.


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