[31 Days] Day 23 Free

It’s Day 23 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here. Don’t forget to subscribe!
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I had some interesting conversations with my sister and some friends in the last few weeks that got me thinking. 

“I think I am not a TCK anymore.” 

This sounded weird to me at first, harsh even. 
How can you just let go of everything you’ve experienced, not acknowledge your past and the many blessings that came with it? 

But I think this is not what they meant. 
To call yourself a TCK can easily become your excuse. 
Your protective shield. 
Your wall to hide behind. 

No, I won’t settle here because I am bound to move all my life anyway.
No, I won’t meet new people because my best friends live on another continent anyway.
No, I will never fit in here because as a TCK I cannot fit in anywhere. 

If being a TCK leads to hiding and excuses, then you use the wonderful experiences you had as a stumbling block to move on and might keep yourself from many more blessings. 
Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting everything else.

As TCKs we should be free of the constant victim and excuse mentality, holding us back from enjoying life, as fragmented and multi-faceted it may be.

So what makes a TCK a TCK? 
I am not quite ready to give up the term yet. 
I am ready to let go of calling myself a victim and rather see myself as benefactor of this life I’ve been given to live. 
Yet, the older I get and the more I enter into new stages of life I feel I cannot NOT be a TCK. 
Here and there, in small and big thoughts, decisions, factors I see how my past shapes my present and my future. 
This is nothing to be scared of or hide behind, but I feel TCKs should be aware of this and embrace the “TCK seeds” that now bear fruits. 

This is an issue I am not done with yet, and I would be really interested to hear from YOU! 
Are you an older TCK and have had similar questions? How do you define yourself as a TCK? How do you have problems with the TCK identity? 

[31 Days] Day 22 Join

It’s Day 22 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here.

Today I am very excited to hear from Rachel Cason, an adult TCK, in her last year of Ph.D studies on the impact of the TCK experience on identity, belonging and place. She has settled in England since her ‘re-entry’ from West Africa at 16, is divorced, a mum to a three year-old drama queen, and engaged to a vicar-to-be. We work together at Euro TCK, and it’s great fun to share TCK knowledge and jokes while planning conferences, strolling through the English countryside, or drying dishes for 100 people.:) 
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I spent a good number of my teenage years haunted by ice-breakers, and other “joining-in” games that enforced “fun”. 
For an introverted girl, worn out and intimidated by the regular meeting of new people, they were a nightmare to be avoided at all cost. 

Yet, when I returned to England at 16, after a childhood of transitioning between the mission community in West Africa and my “home” city in England, my strategy of “sitting it out” started to wear thin. 
Up until this point, furlough years in England were defined by minimal engagement with my passport peers, with me “joining in” only as much as was necessary to disguise the disinterest I had in their “parochial” lives. 
After all, we were from different worlds, and our collisions tended to feel like year-long ice-breaker scenarios, ended only by relieved goodbyes and plane journeys.

Upon arrival in England at 16 however, the return was more permanent, and no planes beckoned me towards an exit sign.


It was an English teacher who unwittingly issued the challenge to “join in”.
Chatting in class after a long dry summer, she bemoaned the death of a much loved fig tree from her garden due to the “drought”. 

At her words, and thoughtless misapplication of the word “drought”, I was rendered mute by my outrage.
Somewhere in the eye of the storm of my own emotions, a little voice whispered, “You can’t stay angry forever at people for simply not having had your experiences. If you are going to survive this, you are going to have to learn to like these people.”

I suddenly realised I had grown up appreciating the cross-cultural ability of learning to value the worldviews of people from various tribes in the Sahara, yet somehow assumed that I could dismiss the cultural worlds of middle England.


My doctoral research interviewing over 60 teenage and adult Third Culture Kids suggest that the struggle to “join in” is fairly universal. For those with highly mobile histories, investment on a local, or even national level is a challenge.
 There may even circulate the assumption that doing so would suggest stagnation; that “joining in” locally implies a loss of a global imagination and narrowing of cultural interests. 


I want to suggest, however, the restlessness and rootlessness experienced by many TCKs could be most effectively countered through local investment.
After all roots are organic, they can be developed and deepened through practise, if we only have the imagination and will to “join in”. 


How did you experience “joining in” when coming back to your passport country?

[31 Days] Day 21 Go

It’s Day 21 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here.

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It seems like my last week in the US was the best (Here‘s the whole story). 
Full of crazy adventures, late night talks over coffee, eating through every type of food. Simply enjoying the time we could have as friends. 
Saying goodbye to little things and places. 


As difficult as every beginning in a new country is – the leaving part is even harder. 


Connected to the moving is the going and saying goodbye. 
May it be that people on your base are leaving. 
May it be that it’s time for you and your family to move on. 
Going is part of a TCK’s life and no matter how often you do it, it doesn’t really get any easier.

So how then can we make the going at least bearable? 

Jesus gave us a perfect example when he left this earth. 
He reconciled things and didn’t leave anything unsettled. 
He spent time with his disciples and affirmed the relationship they had. 
He threw a farewell party the night before. 
And he spent a lot of time telling his friends where he would go and what they could expect. 
His example shows us how we can build a 

R-reconciliation: don’t leave unsettled relationships, open questions, or grudges behind
A- affirmation: celebrate friendships, lives you shared together, and the many blessings
F- farewell: say goodbye to things and people that matter to you
T- thinking ahead: what are you looking forward to at the next destination?

It won’t change everything but it will help us transition into the next phase.


How did you experience transition in your life so far?

[31 Days] Day 20 Bug

It’s Day 20 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here. Don’t forget to subscribe!

Today you can read the second part of a series done by Wera. 
We have known each other for years through the TCK camps we attended together. But only recently we talked and found this strange desire of rest inside of us. Are we allowed to rest or do we seem to have this bug inside of us that just makes us move all the time?
I am very happy that Wera shares her thoughts here with us! Here’s Part 1, in case you missed it!
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Of course I know that part of that longing can never be satisfied by any earthly thing or person, and that there is a spiritual dimension to rest which is not dependent on life circumstances. 
It is an intrinsic part of the human experience to carry a longing inside of us that we cannot quite define and that will never be fulfilled, but that nevertheless keeps driving us to look for something else in life – and I think TCKs feels this more acutely.
 

 

And yet my (albeit limited) experience of living in the same place for a bit longer has also taught me that there is a certain rest that comes with knowing your way around a place, knowing how people tick, and knowing who you are in relation to that particular place. And there is even more rest in deep friendships in which we are intimately known, and feel safe, understood and loved. 

 

But it takes time for this kind of intimacy and trust to grow. 

 

And yes, in the time that it takes to build strong relationships, routine also settles in and life can get dry and repetitive, and with that come the itchy feet. 

 

And yet there is something very beautiful in connecting more deeply with a place and its people over a longer period of time, and although it sometimes sucks, it’s an experience that’s worth sticking around for. 
I’ve noticed that for me, less adventure and less change often seem to bring more rest for my soul and personal growth of a different type – the type that strengthens my roots rather than my wings.
 
And the older I get, the more my soul seems to long for rest over adventure. 
At the moment I oscillate between feeling thirsty for adventure and full of excitement and energy for all the things I could do with my life now that I’ve finished university, and between feeling overwhelmed at the vastness of options in front of me and apprehensive about a lack of stability in the next few years. 
Most people at my stage in life have at least some basic variables in place (they tend to have some fairly set ideas about where to live, who with, and/or what they want to do), but I seem to lack any sort of parameters in my life. 
 
And whilst part of me is excited and grateful to be so free and independent and not tied to any particular place, person or profession, part of me is also envious of friends who are already much more settled or heading in a clear direction in life. 
I’m beginning to accept that my attitude towards moving has become more complex and somewhat paradoxical, and that it’s okay to be confused about what I want. 
We’ll see which of these contrasting feelings and desires end up dominating my life. 
But for now, I’m going to acknowledge, and welcome, the fact that alongside my continuous longing for change and adventure, a new longing for rest and stability has also crept up – and it seems to be growing.
 
How do you deal with your feeling of restlessness? Is the strange desire for rest familiar to you? 

[31 Days] Day 19 Rest

It’s Day 19 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here. Don’t forget to subscribe!

Today you can read the first part of a 2-day series done by Wera. She is German but grew up in Guinea-Bissau and likes to pretend that she’s British. She’s just graduated from Durham University with a BA in Arabic and politics, and is currently working as an aupair in Spain.

We have known each other for years through the TCK camps we attended together. But only recently we talked and found this strange desire of rest inside of us. I am very happy that she shares her thoughts here with us! 
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Feeling restless is an intrinsic part of my identity. 
As a TCK who has moved frequently, I’ve experienced and internalised a colourful (and sometimes confusing) mixture of cultures, habits, beliefs, traditions, languages and relationships. 
Constant change and diversity seem to be of a somewhat addictive nature, and I have often noticed in myself a deep restlessness and a strong urge to move and experience something new that seems to kick in after around two years of staying in the same place.

 

 

By the time I was 12 I’d already moved about a dozen times, but then my family settled more permanently in Germany. After a couple of years it dawned on me that I would essentially have to stay in Germany for several more years until I finished high school. 

Not only did that thought fill me with dread, but I couldn’t even truly conceive of it, having never lived anywhere for more than three years at the very most. 

 

I promptly began to think about ‘escape routes’, and ended up going to England for an exchange year at the age of 15. What was meant to be just one year abroad to get some restlessness out of my system turned into a string of adventures in various countries. 

 

 
Seven years later, I’ve just moved for the eighth time since, this time to Spain, after having lived in the UK, France and Palestine. When people hear my life story they often ask me which country I’d like to settle in eventually. I never really get that question. 
I just cannot imagine life without moving frequently, so I usually joke that even if I found paradise, I’d still get bored and restless and would want to move after 2-3 years.
 
However, as much as I struggle to imagine being settled or even living anywhere more long-term (which I’d define as 3+ years), I’ve recently discovered in myself a strange new desire quietly creeping up alongside the one for adventure and change – a desire for stability and rest.

 

I’ve just graduated from university and am currently working as an aupair in Spain for a few months; after that I hope to find a job teaching English in the Middle East for a couple of years before maybe doing an MA in goodness-knows-where. My parents and siblings are about to be scattered across three different continents. 
So the next few years look unlikely to hold much constancy for me, and I’m surprised to now notice in myself not just excitement, but also exhaustion, at this thought. 
After all my experience of moving, I know the joy of engaging with and learning from people with a different culture and worldview to mine – but I also know the frustration of not being able to fully express myself and being misunderstood because of language and cultural barriers. 
I know the thrill that comes from exploring new places and experiencing a new way of life – but I also know what it feels like to be lonely and homesick. 
And when I say ‘homesick’, what I mean is not a longing for a particular place or particular people, but for a particular feeling – one of rest, of belonging, of being seen and understood for who I really am, and accepted and loved as such. 
 
Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!

[31 Days] Day 18 Know

It’s Day 18 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here. Don’t forget to subscribe!

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Ebola crisis in West Africa. 
Cruel killings in Syria and Iraq. 
Suicide bombs in Afghanistan. 
Corruption about minerals in Congo. 
Civil War in Sudan. 

Those are headlines in newspapers or TV stations. 
News about some people in some countries. 

But they’re not. 

For us, they’re friends, beloved faces in familiar countries. 
And these are not just headlines we can scroll past, these are terrible news from places we have grown to love and know all too well. 


We know too much to not care. 


We have seen too much to just close our eyes and ears. 
News are painful to watch, they pierce through your soul and you can only cry out at the injustice taking place in countries you consider home. 
And there’s always this fear that one day you’ll see a familiar face on the screen. 

We know too much to just sit back and let things happen.
So we speak up, go behind the scenes to places and people hidden from the world’s eyes.
And so we cry out to the One who also knows and sees. 

Who’s always seen. 
And whose heart breaks as much as ours.

Here’s to all those speaking up so bravely and letting us know as well. 

Just one brilliant example are Augustin Pictures. Go and check out their amazing work!

[Five Minute Friday] Long

It’s another Friday, so I am linking up with the writer community at Kate Motaung‘s place.

This post is part 17 of the series “31 Days in the Life of a TCK”. 
Come join the whole conversation here. Don’t forget to subscribe! 
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“Africa? You’re going to Africa? This is so far away! It’s desert there, lots of dangerous animals, and only poor people!”
I remember my grandma saying things like that when we first told her we would be moving South. She came from a little village and hadn’t gone further than the European boarders, so she was terrified. Terrified to lose her children and grandchildren to heat, sickness, or lions.
She was terrified because she didn’t know. Africa was a long way for her. 

But we went. All the long 8000 km to beautiful Uganda. 
In these two years we had maybe 3 phone conversations (it was before the highspeed internet and smartphone age) with us walking around in the garden to get reception and screaming: “You there? Can you hear me? Merry Christmas, Grandma!” and the signal broke off.
Uganda is a long way.

Fortunately, we had a visitor one day who brought a video camera, so we shot a film for grandma, showing her everything in this new home of ours. The way we lived, the GREEN grass (Uganda is close to the equator and pretty green in rain season), the people we had come to love. 
The next letter we got from her was very different. “Now I know where you are. Now I can be at peace. Africa is not as different as I thought.”

Suddenly, Uganda isn’t such a long way after all. 
Long distances can become very small if we know how to bridge them well. 
I am not saying the kilometers magically disappear. 
And trust me, as soon as I hang up on a skype conversation I feel the distance more than ever before. 
But thank God for so many ways to make the long distances come closer to us. 
To allow the world to reach us where we are. 

Having the world close to us can have its challenges as well – stay tuned for this part tomorrow!

How did/do you experience distances in your life? Any funny stories to tell?