I just finished reading Lawrence Downes' New York Times editorial observations on Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, Barack Obama, Estranged in a Strange Land. If you have been following his campaign, then you have probably heard that Sen Obama is considered by many to be one of the fastest rising stars in U.S. politics. Some have even likened his new status to a celebrity image of political "Rock Star". In 2005, Time magazine named Obama one of the "worlds most influential people who shape our lives," and also called him "one of the most admired politicians in America". Sen. Obama also won a Grammy for the audio version of his 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father, which spent one year on the New York Times bestseller list, and he was featured on the covers of Men's Vogue and Newsweek.
As a TCA and the mother of four TCKs, what I found even more exciting and notable about Obama's celebrity status on the political and world scene is that he is also one of the fastest rising adult TCKs!!
The first time that I heard about Sen Barack Obama was during a conversation a few years ago with my good friend, Ruth E. Van Reken. I still vividly recall that day, as she excitedly told me about this up and coming young politician from the Chicago area, and, that to her great pleasure, he was a TCK! Ruth added that, in her opinion, Obama represented our hope for the future, as was heralded by sociologist, Ted Ward in 1989, when he declared that TCKs were the "prototype citizens of the future".
It seems that in the case of Barack Obama, Ruth Van Reken and Ted Ward were right!!
In his memoir, Dreams from My Father, Obama shares that he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. His father, an economist, was born in Kenya and his mother, a white American from Kansas, first met while they were students at the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii. When Obama was two years old, his parents were divorced, and his mother, Ann Obama later married Lolo Sotero, another foreign student from Indonesia. In 1967, his family moved to Jakarta, where Obama attended local schools from ages six to 10. He then returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents while attending the Punahou School from 5th grade through his graduation from high school in 1979. Obama clearly knew the emotional challenges of transitioning between cultures and growing up in strange lands and having experienced his own, at times painful, personal search for identity from the perspective of being a TCK, biracial, and a perpetual lifestyle as an insider/outsider.
In TCK's Come of Age, posted on the Transition Dynamics website of Dr Barbara Shaetti (an expatriate consultant and a bi-cultural TCK), intercultural consultant, Vicki Lambiri states that there are a number of TCK personalities that quite often appear in the media. She adds that interviews with well known TCKs abound, but the general public doesn't know it, since having an awareness and understanding of the TCK experiences has not quite "penetrated into the consciousness of mainstream American society or for that matter any society." She believes that as the TCK populations continues to grow, it is important that for the media and reporters to better understand "how to interpret the significance of the TCK childhood and its influence on adult behaviors."
Although a very good article and synopsis of his experiences, the Downes op-ed missed a wonderful opportunity to tie some of his observations about Sen Obama to his lived TCK experience and how it helped to inform his worldview. This lived TCK expereince, most likely has contributed to Obama's broad appeal and to his earning a reputation as an incredibly unifying figure.
I agree Vicki!
Barack Obama's growing media and global presence is a great example of why the time is now to spread the word to an even broader audience regarding the importance of the "third culture" experience and its influence on our globalized society!!