Hong Kong Garden

Friday, May 3, 2013

Manifesto of the Third Culture Kid

“A third culture kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture. The third culture kid builds relationships to all the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the third culture kid’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of the same background, other TCKs.” –Ruth Hill Useem, American Sociologist and Anthropologist, 1993

The Third Culture Kid in Watercolor May 2013

1)  To effectively integrate aspects of a birth culture (the first culture) and a new culture (the second culture) to establish a personalized "third culture”, we have no other choice but to adapt to the majority.

2)   Upon our entry to a new destination, we must start as an infant — with an alert mind, a clean ear and a fresh tongue.

3)   Inevitably, we will lose our initial beliefs and hid our values (gained from birth culture) for the purpose of strengthening and regaining them on our next embarkation.

4)   Remove all native accents to fully immerse in the local slang. We must dress “up” if they dress “up” and we must dress “down” if they dress “down”. We must pretend to fit in to fit in.

5)   Let us belong to a group whether it is academic, business, or social.

6)   All TCKs live a shared identity and take no ownership in any one culture. Although we understand the present culture better than the average, we can learn most through our agreements and disagreements with other TCKs.

7)   If we are lucky we shall have a sense of home here.

8)   While time will leave us with an incomplete network, it will spare strong relationships.  Our task is to reject the “Out of sight, Out of mind” syndrome.

9)   We always have an urge to travel and contradict ourselves in our wish to settle down. We must accept that we do not have one but multiple identities

10)   One day, we will return to our birth country knowing that we do not share the same values and modes of thinking as our peers.  We will let go of our identities again and learn as a foreigner

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