Where are you really from? Third Culture Kids and Middle Years

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(Ikem Opara) #1

Where are you from?

Oh! Really?

This is an interaction that plays out in different versions in many situations. One of those situations is on the playgrounds, classrooms, libraries, gyms, wherever it is young people spend their time. What we call the “middle years” is that critical time between the ages of 6 and 12. This is the time when a lot of complex socialization and social norming is happening. In my experience it is also an important period when identity, and sense of belonging is shaped.

Home, identity and belonging are three constant themes in all I have come to learn about Third Culture Kids (TCK). You see, TCKs as they are sometimes known as are persons raised in a culture other than their parents’ or the culture of the country named on their passport for a significant part of their early development years. The middle years are a critical part of these early development years and the way TCKs navigate these three themes of home, identity and belonging has a significant impact on the adults they become. For many of us, these three themes overlap a great deal. For third culture kids, the overlap is not always there.

Taiye Selasi and Pico Iyer share some interesting perspectives on the notions of home and belonging. What do you think their experiences would have been as 6 – 12 year old children and how would that have shaped their sense of belonging and how that is defined? What were your experiences, or that of the 6-12 year olds in your life?