Third Culture - Expats' Contribution to Society

What hooked me was the opening paragraph of the article.

"Obama has packed his staff with so-called "Third Culture Kids"-people who grew up outside the U.S. New research suggests this group shares common psychological traits that could shape his administration."

Third culture? Expat, right? Very good guess!

Just as expats, aka Third Culture Adults, Third Culture Kids (TCK's) are different. TCK's are children who grow up outside their "passport country"

The article by Ruth E. Van Reken went on to explain that TCK's have some common characteristics. Studies conducted by Ruth and John Useem suggest that TCK's adopt a global perspective. They are socially adaptable and intellectually flexible. He or she will be quick to think outside the box and can appreciate and reconcile different points of view.

Ms Van Reken writes about the potential challenges for TCK's:

"But TCKs can also feel rootless and detached. The great challenge for maturing Third Culture Kids is to forge a sense of personal and cultural identity from the various environments to which they been exposed. Barack Obama's memoir, Dreams of My Father, could serve as a textbook in the TCK syllabus, a classic search for self-definition, described in living color. Obama's colleagues on the Harvard Law Review were among the first to note both his exceptional skill at mediating among competing arguments and the aloofness that made his own views hard to discern. That cool manner of seeming "above it all" is also a classic feature of the Third Culture Kid.

"The TCKs' identity struggles can be painful and difficult. The literature documents addictive behaviors, troubled marriages and fitful careers. But meeting this challenge can become a TCK's greatest strength. Learning to take the positive pieces from a variety of experiences and create a strong sense of "This is who I am, no matter where I am" gives a steadiness when the world around is in flux or chaos-which helps explain "no-drama Obama."" .. read "Obama's Third Culture Team"

Every parent (TCA) should make themselves aware of the potential struggles and develop a strategy to deal with it. One way to start may be a visit to the Families in Global Transition website.