Engage in thought provoking discussions with Dr. Paulette Bethel around issues of identity, transition, cultural fusion and repatriation to the place we call “home.”
I hope that you are enjoying the TCK Academy Expert Interview Teleseminar Series, so far. It has been my absolute pleasure to pick the brains of some of the leading TCK/CCK experts and exciting new upcomers on a variety of topics to learn more about successfully navigating the internationally mobile lifestyle, as TCAs, ATCKs/ACCKs, teachers, parents, and counselors. As you read the feedback and testimonials you will begin to see the benefits of attending these interviews. More importantly, you will know that being there with us is time well spent!
For example, Lori , a teacher in Tokyo praises, saying “worth waking up for at 5 AM!” The best part about attending these TCK Academy Teleseminars is that you not only actually get to hear our guests talk about their passions regarding this field and the work that they do to support this global community, you get to ask them your questions, discuss concerns and share stories - “Thank you so very much for making the surreal, real!"
…. And, if you have been on the calls or listened to the MP3 recordings, then you know that I have attempted to ask thought provoking questions, so that everyone can learn from these experts, and be able to take action with the answers that all the experts have provided. I believe that he questions that have been asked by our listeners clearly show the value and quality of these interviews.
In this "Free" series, we have covered (will cover) topics, such as:
· How maneuver the parenting of TCKs and other global nomads to in an on-demand world
· The power of finding language to describe and better articulate your nomadic experiences to those that do not understand
· Secrets of attracting and finding relationships that work with your TCKness
· Learning about the grief and trauma associated with this lifestyle and discovering that you are not alone in your grief
· The stages of grief and what can be done at each stage for your wellbeing and growth
· Keys to releasing the past and embracing “the here and now”
· “Barrier Beliefs” to mastery over the challenges of being a TCK/CCK: Do you have any?
· Developing an understanding of how to best cope and find comfort in these experiences.
· Generating ideas and support for establishing a plan to move forward from these losses
· Celebrating the richness of the TCK experiences even as we name and offer language for understanding the challenges.
· How sharing stories of our sadness and loss, can benefit others and lessen our own pain.
My partner Brice Royer and I are excited about the opportunity to provide this programming through our founding of the TCK Academy. We have a lot in the planning stages and look forward to future offerings. If you have not already done so, please consider this my personal invitation to join us for this ongoing summer series. If you have participated in one or more of this series already, we would love to have you join us again!!
You will hear (and be able to ask questions) from experts, such as:
Ruth Van Reken – Highly sought TCK consultant, and author of Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds and Letters Never Sent
Robin Pascoe – The Expat Expert and author of Homeward Bound and the Moveable Marriage.
Donna Musil – Army Brat/ATCK, writer, director and producer of Brats: Our Journey Home
Tom Query is the Executive Director of the Foothills Counseling Center in northern Georgia, and a highly skilled licensed professional counselor/psychotherapist. His expertise includes and grief and loss issues, relationships, and individuation. Tom served as one of the Rescue Mental Health Professionals with the Red Cross in New York Oct/Nov 2001, working with survivors and families of this tragic event.
Nancy Ruth – ATCK and Senior Global Coordinator and Facilitator of Cultural Awareness International
Kellie Pullin and Terry Kinnard – the Emergent Coach™ and the creators of the Path to Choice Teleseminar
Barbara F. Schaetti, Ph.D. is Principal Consultant of Transition Dynamics, a faculty member of the Intercultural Communication Institute and is a founding partner of Personal Leadership Seminars (PLSeminars).
… and others ( more details soon).
This week, I am honored to bring Margie Ulsh, editor of Among Worlds Magazine: Encouraging and Empowering Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCKs) for our Expert Series Interviews. Not only is Margie humorous and fun-loving, she will leave you with a footprint of thoughtful and soul provoking ideas.
I hope to see you there!!
Please join me for the next interview in my ongoing series of the TCK Academy teleconferences. I will be interviewing Donna Musil, Army Brat/ATCK, writer, director and producer of Brats: Our Journey Home. Some of you may recall a previous post where I talked about this film
I am really excited about this teleconference interview. I had some time to meet with Donna in person this week while in Denver on business. What a blast!! Especially since she introduced me to a great restaurant that served the most wonderful Creole/Cajun cuisine!!! Actually, I am thinking about making Donna my newest BFF, especially if she can find one or two more restaurants that remind me of my "home culture" and its distinctive food!! The one thing that I took away from my meeting with Donna was that she is clearly passionate and knowledgeable about the needs of global nomads, TCKs and brats from all sectors, cultures and backgrounds. You don’t have to be a military brat to find your story in Brats: Our Journey Home. Donna’s work offers a universal message of belonging, coming to understanding and acceptance of the gifts and challenges of living a global nomad lifestyle.
I am really excited about this teleconference interview. I had some time to meet with Donna in person this week while in Denver on business. What a blast!! Especially since she introduced me to a great restaurant that served the most wonderful Creole/Cajun cuisine!!! Actually, I am thinking about making Donna my newest BFF, especially if she can find one or two more restaurants that remind me of my "home culture" and its distinctive food!!
The one thing that I took away from my meeting with Donna was that she is clearly passionate and knowledgeable about the needs of global nomads, TCKs and brats from all sectors, cultures and backgrounds. You don’t have to be a military brat to find your story in Brats: Our Journey Home. Donna’s work offers a universal message of belonging, coming to understanding and acceptance of the gifts and challenges of living a global nomad lifestyle.
To get the full story click here:
Donna was raised an Army brat and has lived and worked in Germany, Korea, Ireland, Copenhagen, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, and Paris. As a child, she moved 12 times in 16 years. Her father was a JAG officer and military judge. When she was 16, her father died, and two weeks later, her family moved to Columbus, Georgia, where she finished high school.
For the next 20 years, Donna moved 19 times, graduated college, and worked in a variety of jobs, but always felt “different” from her fellow Americans. In 1997, she learned that she was not alone. While surfing the Internet, Donna discovered a Web site for her Taegu, Korea high school. A few weeks later, she attended an impromptu reunion in Washington, DC. It was revelatory. For the first time, Donna felt like she “belonged” somewhere, and thus began her journey “home.
According to Musil, “It’s really about reconnecting and finding a home…. Finding a home not in a place but with a group of people.”
During our conversation, Donna will discuss the making of her seven-year passion, Brats: Our Journey Home, finding that place of belonging, being comfortable with who you are in the mix of paradoxes, the positive and the challenging legacies that “third culture kids” experience around the globe, and how BRATs/TCKs can develop an ability to “fully employ your strengths and have compassion for your weaknesses."
Join me on Tuesday, June 24 for my teleconference interview with Robin Pascoe on raising Third Culture Kids, author of A Moveable Marriage: Relocate Your Marriage Without Breaking It, Raising Global Nomads: Parenting Abroad in an On-Demand World and others.
Join me on Tuesday, June 24 for my teleconference interview with Robin Pascoe on raising Third Culture Kids, author of A Moveable Marriage: Relocate Your Marriage Without Breaking It, Raising Global Nomads: Parenting Abroad in an On-Demand World and others.
In this interview, sponsored by The TCK Academy, you will learn how to:
About Robin Pascoe
Robin’s reputation as a funny, engaging and inspirational speaker was earned as a former diplomatic spouse (in postings to Bangkok, Taipei, Beijing and Seoul); raising two third culture kids, and by traveling globally for more than a decade from her home base in Vancouver, Canada. Robin has now spoken in over twenty-five countries, invited by corporate groups from Shanghai to Johannesburg to educate business about the needs of the expatriate family. Robin has become the go-to expert for corporations interested in understanding the needs of expats and their families and making recommendations for family-friendly relocation policies. Traveling spouses, international school communities, global mobility and Human Resource practitioners, and relocation specialists worldwide applaud her pragmatic but sensitive approach to the joys and challenges of families and global relocation. She is deeply committed to helping families make the most of the sometimes challenging privilege of living, working, and raising a family abroad.
Robin’s profession as a journalist makes her ideally suited to reporting on the trends in expatriate experience. She writes regularly for expatriate newspapers, magazines and web sites and has been interviewed by numerous international publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, Working Mother Magazine, Utne Reader, CNN, and others.
Robin’s reputation as a funny, engaging and inspirational speaker was earned as a former diplomatic spouse (in postings to Bangkok, Taipei, Beijing and Seoul); raising two third culture kids, and by traveling globally for more than a decade from her home base in Vancouver, Canada. Robin has now spoken in over twenty-five countries, invited by corporate groups from Shanghai to Johannesburg to educate business about the needs of the expatriate family. Robin has become the go-to expert for corporations interested in understanding the needs of expats and their families and making recommendations for family-friendly relocation policies.
Traveling spouses, international school communities, global mobility and Human Resource practitioners, and relocation specialists worldwide applaud her pragmatic but sensitive approach to the joys and challenges of families and global relocation. She is deeply committed to helping families make the most of the sometimes challenging privilege of living, working, and raising a family abroad.
Sign up here to join my TCK Academy's interview with Robin Pascoe.
Date and Time:
Tuesday June 24, 2008. Time: 1:00 PM (Pacific) / 4:00 PM (Eastern) / 9:00PM (London, England) / 5:00 AM (Tokyo, Japan). Click here for the Time Converter.
Today, I had the opportunity to talk to a very old and dear Air Force buddy that I had lost contact with. No surprise that it only took us moments to enter into a flow of conversation that seemed to melt away the years.
Soon our conversation turned to what our current interests were and I began to talk to her about Third Culture Kids (TCKs). As soon as I explained what this concept was, she eagerly told me that she wanted to lnow where she could find more information, so that she could share it with her Adult TCK daughter.
This conversation really spoke to me about why I believe that this topic is vitally important. It also reinforced that there is still much work to be done in terms of educating employers, educators, parents and other organization that interact with and supports TCKs,
The good news is that we are now in a time when organizations are beginning to pay attention to what is needed to better understand the impacts of an internationally mobile lifestyle on children and their families.
I just watched this YouTube™ documentary related to this topic. Though striking painful and less than pleasant chords in some spots, and less than gender sensitive in others, I thought that it was well done and that much of what was presented was representative of the traditional TCK experience, especially for those kids, like my own, that grew up in this highly mobile, cross-cultural lifestyle of the military.
According to the YouTube™ site, Brats: Our Journey Home is the first documentary about growing up as a military brat. It is narrated and features songs by ATCK, Kris Kristofferson and includes interviews with ATCK, General Norman Schwarzkopf,
I am an avid fan of Dr. Robin Smith, a licensed psychologist and guest expert on Oprah and Friends™ Radio. I especially love it when Dr. Robin opens her show with a gem that she weaves from her own life that you just know is chocked full of empowering metaphors designed to inspire her listeners in meeting the challenges of their own daily living.
During one of Dr. Robins’ recent call-in shows, a guest phoned in to ask questions about her difficulties with choosing and settling on one career that she would love and be able to stick with. Dr Robin immediately goes into action asking skillfully worded questions designed to elicit information from her caller regarding her dreams and desires for a career and to pin-point the caller’s issues surrounding her career dilemma.
The caller struggled.
As the call progressed and the questions became more artful, the more the caller seemed to struggle with finding the answers.
There I was in the car listening to the show and thinking, “Is this young woman possibly a TCK?” At one point I found myself talking to the radio and animatedly saying, “Ask her questions about what her parents did for a living?”
I wanted to know! Was her Mother in the military? Was her father a missionary? Did she spend part of her developmental years living overseas? And then this magical moment happened… this 30-something caller shared that she typically goes through a 2-3 year cycle of changing jobs, primarily due to her no longer enjoying the job and no longer understanding, or even liking, the people that she works with!
Ahhh – there it is… Could it be possible? Is she a TCK? I lean forward in anxious anticipation….
To my utter disappointment, the call heads into a different direction and closes. This call ended with no real resolution for the caller with respect to her developing more insight and understanding about what might be happening for her… no questions that might have elicited a background that could account for her workforce wanderlust. I also noted that this was not a typical ending when listeners call into the show looking for answers to their concerns. Usually the conversation ends with the caller expressing some type of “aha” moment or at least the recognition that they have a better understanding og the situation that led them to call into the show. My felt sense was that, in this case, the caller had not found the resolution that she was hoping to find
Is it possible that the reason that Dr Robin Smith did not have her usual bull-eye hit when responding to the questions and concerns of her callers was because her caller was a TCK?
While this situation may certainly not have been the story of a TCK in crises, it did lead to my musing about how often helping professionals miss the opportunity to help TCKs who may be struggling with issues of unresolved grief, wanderlust and rootlessness, cultural identity, feelings of alienation, etc., because they do not even know to ask the right questions.
How often do teachers and school counselors miss the opportunity to learn that an underlying part of why a child may be isolating or appear aloof in the classroom is intricately connected to their lived experiences that stem from having spent several years outside of their home culture?
As I mentioned in a previous posting, Vicki Lambiri suggests 10 areas of research that she believes demands our attention and requires further study by and for the benefit of the intercultural community of academics, practitioners and consultants, as they serve the expatriate community. I would like to suggest one more area of research that I believe requires more attention.
As a licensed marriage and family therapist, I would like to propose that more research and increased awareness is needed within the counseling field for understanding the experiences of multi-mover families and impacts of growing up in cultures outside of their passport culture.
What would it mean if psychologists and counselors were to include questions that are designed to elicit this type of information designed, as part of their routine intake, when meeting new clients?
Given our increasing globalization, it might be prudent for the helping profession to consider that the possibility that their new client might be a TCK or ATCK.
How have you been affected by having spent part of your childhood or adolescent years abroad?
“Betwixt and between,” she said jokingly!
I still recall the day that an older co-worker came over to my desk where I worked as a newly promoted employee in the Sears Credit Department. In what seemed to be good-natured humor she said, “betwixt and between.” As she continued to chuckle, I curiously pondered what it was that she was saying. Was she making reference to my racially mixed background? If she was, indeed, poking fun at my identity, then I failed to see the funnier side of what she seemed to be so exquisitely enjoying.
Was it possible that she was making reference to my transitional phase of moving from adolescence to adulthood and landing my first real job? Or, perhaps, she was referring to my novice skill level, given that I had just moved up from being part-time salesclerk on the “flying squad” rotational unit to a full time credit department employee. As I continued to scrutinize her face for some glimmer of understanding, she continued to laugh, as she pointed to my hair. “Betwixt and between” she again declared. “That’s what I call my hair,” she said, still chuckling! “You and I have something in common!” Pointing to her hair in return,… I laughed. She was right!!
You might ask what does discussion about “betwixt and between” hair has to do with a blog about third culture kids and adults.
Where do I begin…
First, I have been pondering some of the comments that I have received from readers, both on this blog and in emails about mixed race and minority TCKs, as well as first hand experiences around issues connected to being a mixed ethnicity TCK. In addition to those of feelings of rootlessness or not quite fitting in that most TCKs typically know… that sense of not having a place that they call home … that feeling of being from nowhere and everywhere, for some, there often exists yet another layer of experiences that accompany living in an internationally mobile lifestyle.
TCKs who are from multiethnic backgrounds have an added sense of not belonging within a explicitly defined category. For example, there are no neat little boxes that can be checked off on an application… no space where he or she can connect from an aspect of a clearly categorized identity. There also a heightened struggle for acceptance for being just “who they are.” I will never forget my son’s frustrations when filling out his first job applications and experiencing feelings of the ambiguity of an identity that could not be characterized both from the perspective of being biracial and as a TCK born in and spending formative years in countries outside of the US.
A couple of months ago, I came across the most interesting discussion about liminality on Charles La Shure’s blog about his betwixt and between word of being a westerner living and working in Korea at Liminality: The Space In Between.
If most of you are like me, you have never heard of the term liminality, and most probably not associated with a discussion of being a Third Culture Adult or a Third Culture Kid. So for purposes of this discussion, I think that it would be best to start with providing a definition of liminality. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines liminality as: of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition; in-between; transitional. For a more detailed definition and historical explanation of this concept, see LaShure’s comprehensive discussion.
In this sense, TCKs could certainly identify with this state of liminality… existing in neither one culture nor the other space of being … betwixt and between …. the third culture. Certainly, TCKs of a mixed race background, especially those whose parents are from differing passport cultures might especially recognize the liminality of existing in “the space in-between.”
The other reason that I chose to open this blog by poking fun at my liminal, “betwixt and between” hair was because I wanted to introduce a lighter touch to open a dialog(ue) about a very serious topic that I believe will only grow, as we continue to experience massive demographic and societal changes that have been brought on by increasing globalization.
I'd be delighted to hear stories from my readers about what’s different and what’s the same for TCKs from a biracial/bicultural or multiethnic background and the usual experiences of other TCKs. What are some of the challenges that you believe you have faced that are different from the experiences of TCKs whose parents are of the same race, ethnicity or passport culture? What are some of the gifts that you believe you have developed as a result of your unique identity and place of liminality?
This weekend, I received the most wonderful note from the author of the book Spirit of Saint Valentine: An Expat's Tale of Love. Reading this note served as a wonderful reminder of why this topic is near and dear to my heart! This young author reaffirmed that there are challenges that accompany the benefits of this internationally mobile childhood. More importantly, Simens emphasized the significance of parents realizing that the readjustment that accompanies these moves can be difficult, and their role of "listening" is a very important part of making this adjustment easier.
I am going to add that I believe that it is important that all adults that are involved in the lives of TCKs, i.e., teachers... relatives... friends..., also practice the art of skillful listening to support their needs of TCKs. Equally vital to the growth and development of TCKs is acknowledgement and support of their gifts that often surface through their lived experiences. However, these gifts very often go unnoticed, especially once TCKS return to their home or passport culture.
Clearly, having written a novel about these experiences at this yearly life stage, is an example of the gifts that develop through this cross cultural childhood. I encourage you to check out Simens' book as soon as you get a chance.
Today, I reminisced about different experiences of living overseas. But as many of us who have lived this expatriate lifestyle know, some of these experiences are not easy to explain to local friends and acquaintances. Often, telling our strories just causes their eyes to glaze over. What is even more likely is that this line of conversation just does not interest them. It is just not part of their daily existence. When we do find people who are genuinely interested in hearing our story, then we are allowed a few moments of being just who we are -- folks who have had a variety of interesting experiences in different parts of the world.
Affectionately, I thought about living in China and not looking like most of the people I encountered (Pollack & Van Reken Foreigner Box). I recalled being amused, as I watched a little old lady observing my very blonde-haired coworker, as we rode bicycles through the market. This old lady sat down on a curb and laughed uproariously while slapping her thigh at the sheer thought of my friend’s physical appearance. If I could have read her mind, I would bet that her thoughts went something like this: “In all of my life, I never thought that I would see with my own eyes, some one who looks like her!”
My thoughts moved on to my memories of living in a Muslim country and wearing outfits that were conservative, yet did not look like any of the clothing worn by most of the women around me. What’s more memorable was encountering some of these women in the course of doing my job and pleasantly having that “inner knowing” that they were optimistic and encouraged!
My career choices brought me to places on the opposite side of the world and provided me experiences that I could never imagined when I was a child growing up in New Orleans. Although I grew up around a lot of local diversity, my overseas sojourns introduced to new people from very different backgrounds. From them, I learned all kinds of new things. I visited places that most people in the US read about in books, and most important of all, I learned things about myself every step of the way. My TCK children were lucky enough experienced all of these things along with us, but I suspect that imagining these things as children was not quite the same as my childhood imagining, because, after all, they” lived” them as children!
There’s no denying the power of these experience and the impact that these, and many others, have had on my life. My question for my readers: What kind of effects did living an international lifestyle have on you?
Over the years, I have engaged in serious dialogs with those who believe that identity formation is set during our developmental and adolescent years, and therefore, cannot change. I am convinced, however, that with each repatriation experience upon returning from an overseas assignment, I experienced a perceptible shift in my identity – my sense of self. Don’t get me wrong, my “core” me is still there and intact.
Having formed a core identity under fairly “normative” developmental circumstances is what makes the experiences of TCAs distinctly different from the experiences of TCKs who spend their developmental years outside of their home or primary culture. Unlike the majority of their home culture peers, TCKs find themselves having the dual challenge of simultaneously living in a host culture environment, while mastering critical life cycle stages, especially their identity formation stage. I have certainly witnessed the joys and complications that a TCK lifestyle presented my children, as they experienced changing cultural milieus during their developmental stages of adolescence and pre-adolescence.
But what about Mom and Dad? Are they possibly dealing with similar dual challenges, while attempting to settle into their new environments? Can adults who have grown up in one primary cultural world before beginning international pilgrimages for the first time as adults go through an identity metamorphosis in conjunction with having lived in a cultural environment that is different from their primary culture? As a marriage and family therapist, I cannot help but ponder the effects of swirling change that exists around and within families during these international sojourns. I think that I will revisit these ponderations in a future post. Yep, I know that I also promised to continue the discussion on added factors for TCKs who are multiracial and/or are from a minority background. I haven’t forgotten!
There were times, in my sojourn between cultures, when that I felt as though I might be going through a second adolescence, as I tried to make sense of all of the new rules, struggled to figure out the “culture codes” of our host culture, and, at times, I acknowledged that I did not know the rules. On more than one occasion, I felt afraid that I might not ever learn or “get” the rules, especially in cultures that were vastly different from my traditional world. On the other hand, I loved being overseas, experiencing the differences and being challenged regarding my own paradigms regarding worldview. Each time, I came home a little different… a little changed… more informed…. and, I believe, better off through these experiences.
Although challenging, the process of identity changes as a result of overseas assignments, can also be a time of experimenting with these changes, as I choose to have a positive outlook and mindset about these inner changes that have taken place. Once I return to my home culture and settle into my new routine, I have the opportunity to survey those internal shifts, I can choose to embrace those shifts that I perceive to be conducive to my developing more of a global citizen mindset, or I can choose to integrate new patterns of being into my daily existence. “I still take my shoes off when I enter my home.” I love that I have chosen to hold close this adopted Asian custom!! I like it even more, since I recently discovered that this is a good practice if you, like me, are allergy challenged. Apparently, in that case “taking off your shoes before entering the house is a good thing!”
In what other ways might the challenges of transition into a new culture or reintegrating into your home culture might be an opportunity to embrace the benefits that comes with your expanded view of self?