Today, I encountered a well-written article describing TCKs such as me in a nutshell (Mayberry, 2016). I hope it would give you a better understanding of people who grew up in multiple countries. While reading it, I stumbled upon a quote from a fellow TCK:
“Everyone knew everyone and no one knew me.”
That was exactly how I felt when I moved to Singapore, my birth country, in 2010. Being born there, I felt the expectations of society and myself that I need to fit in because I was born a local, but I couldn’t. I could try to fake it, but that meant lying to people and to God. So I presented myself sincerely.
However, my different accents and behaviors possibly made some locals think I’m faking it or that I’m too proud of my background that I refuse to change myself. My lack of patriotism to Singapore (I’m not patriotic to any country) made me feel guilty, and that I shouldn’t even have a local identification card.
It took me two years to adapt to the place that was supposed to be my “home” partly because I was caught in between these: being foreign and being a local that I should be. I struggled with my identity.
My long adaptation also resulted from this preconception: I already have an established social community there. I didn’t. I moved out of Singapore when I was five. I didn’t attend their local schools nor did I grow up in the same socio-cultural environment as them. In other words, I didn’t share the same childhood.
Thus, I barely had connections outside my relatives. I eventually decided to treat Singapore as I would to other countries I’d lived in. By simply adapting without changing myself. Then I made new friends (again) by being the friend Christ wanted me to be.
My irregular puzzle shape doesn’t fit in not only Singapore, but also any other country. I may not be completely a Singaporean, a Korean, a Chinese, a Czech, or an American (I say this due to my education). My accent and behavior may consist of five cultural parts, but I’m not any of them. I’m a person just like you in God’s eyes.
My rootlessness ultimately drove me to depend on Christ instead on my “homes” and the “national identities” I picked up. That being said, I formed the two statements:
I may be rootless, yet my root is in Christ. I may not call any country my home, yet His Home is my Home.
His Home is the best Home because I will be with Him for eternity (Hebrews 11:16). After all, everything on earth is temporal, including countries and national identities.
Very Sincerely Yours,
Clarissa Choo-Choo Train
P.S. Friend, regardless of your being a TCK or not, where is your home? And what is your identity?
Mayberry, K. “Third Culture Kids: Citizens of everywhere and nowhere.” November 19, 2016. In BBC Worklife. Retrieved July 16, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20161117-third-culture-kids-citizens-of-everywhere-and-nowhere?fbclid=IwAR39E10Ph1MwyO3EBtwZA7aFInQNvFtMYWBgGKBKRQXeYZsYmq3YwelE96I
Tapp, G. 2016. Quoted in Mayberry, K. “Third Culture Kids: Citizens of everywhere and nowhere.” November 19, 2016. In BBC Worklife. Retrieved July 16, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20161117-third-culture-kids-citizens-of-everywhere-and-nowhere?fbclid=IwAR39E10Ph1MwyO3EBtwZA7aFInQNvFtMYWBgGKBKRQXeYZsYmq3YwelE96I
Clarissa Choo is a vessel used for Christ’s glory. Although she has lived in four countries, Heaven is her only Home. She desires to sow His seeds and to serve third culture kids, teens, and writers. Besides writing, she loves to wash dishes, chop ingredients into smithereens, and record hymns on her piano. Peek into her Christian TCK Email Ministry or read more posts.