We have all heard the stereotype of the expat brat, the privileged child safely ensconced in boarding school and flown first class to experience all the 5 star luxuries the world has to offer. But is this really the reality of an Offshore Offspring and if it’s not then what is?
We came across an interesting article recently debunking the myth of the expat brat and introducing us to just some of the articulate and thoughtful young people that an international lifestyle produces. With this in mind we started thinking about Third Culture Kids (TCK’s) and the benefits of growing up as one.
The term third culture kid was first coined by sociologist Ruth Hill Useem when she spent a year researching expatriates in India in the 1950’s. She found that children who had moved from their birth place to live in the culture of another had developed a third culture of their own transcending the culture of their country of origin and their new country.
With more people becoming international professionals an increasing number of children are spending their formative years across cultures. Not only is their number increasing but debate rages about whether the term third culture is actually sufficient? As children move across time zones and geographies born outside of both parents countries of origin perhaps they start to see the world as their home. Brice Royer, founder of TCKid.com jokingly told the Telegraph ‘I’m from heaven,’ when asked where he was from.
Whilst some experts have found that TCK’s can experience a loss of identity and suffer from the constant upheaval of a life well travelled, most ATCKs (adult third culture kids) argue that they have grown up with a more complete world view and a greater understanding and appreciation of different cultures. The nomadic quality of ATCKs enables them to transcend traditional cultural barriers of race and class and become a true world citizen. This ability serves ATCK’s well in later life as they can be viewed as mediators for the modern world. The attributes of an ATCK can also be highly regarded in the business world with individuals lending global insight to initiatives and contributing creatively to projects.
As both articles discussed here conclude perhaps lessons could be learned from the TCK’s approach to life- with technology opening the world up for all of us perhaps the notion of a world community built on shared experiences is not such an idealistic thought. Our expat guest bloggers provide just a handful of examples of people who through blogging about their shared experiences are opening up a dialogue with the world not just people within their postcode. Perhaps we should all embrace our inner TCK and stop dismissing them as expat brats.