The other day, my husband interviewed an individual for a position that she was seeking. During the course of the interview, the subject of being part of a military family came up. She described some of the challenges of moving herself and her children across cultures during her husband’s career, and shared personal anecdotes about entering new countries and cultures. More importantly, she recanted re-entry and education challenges for herself and her children. Although she clearly enjoyed these experiences, and had worked with her children to embrace these benefits, as well as providing parental guidance on navigating the challenges, it was clear to him that she wanted and needed more information and resources.
He asked her if she was familiar with the literature regarding TCKs. She was not familiar with the term, and had no awareness that there were already resources available to assist her and her family to transition successfully across cultures. In a few months, they will make another cross-cultural transition from the east coast to the southwest. And, as I have been told on many occasions, this particular move may as well be to another country, due to the vast differences in lifestyle and cultural mores.
Although there has been an explosion of awareness, research and resources dedicated to helping TCK (much more is needed for TCAs), there is so much more to explore and think about when it comes to the world of TCKs and TCAs. I know that the Department of Defense has made providing information and resources to families regarding the challenges and benefits of relocating military families across cultures a top family-oriented priority. Over the last few years, they have sponsored research, and have actively participated in activities, such as, the Families in Global Transition Conferences, and the Military Child Education Coalition.
As my husband was providing this mother with a list of resources regarding TCKs, he told me that an expression of relief flashed across her face. I suspect that he was a little excited, because he had just joined the legions of us who know how meaningful having knowledge and awareness of this topic is to the sustainability of internationally and domestically mobile families.
I am sure that most of you can vividly recall the first time that we discovered that there was a label and explanations that made sense regarding our experiences -- the moment that that light flickered across our faces, as we said to ourselves, “This makes sense. I make sense!” I know that I do!!
With this Mother’s new awareness, hopefully, she will be able to tap into some of these resources and spread the word about the availability of information on third culture experiences to her friends, family and associates.