Friday, January 30, 2009

President Obama, a Third Culture and Cross-Cultural Adult, is Changing the World!

Our society, our economy, and our future are all changing rapidly. The fluidity of the global economy and the continuous, extensive migration of people around the world have blurred cultural lines, creating a new type of citizen. Their numbers are exponentially increasing, so they are rapidly becoming the norm. These people significantly impact the educational systems of the country in which they are growing up and, as adults, the business, political, cultural, and economic structure of the country in which they choose to live and work. They are changing the world, since they live in almost every country on our planet.

President Barack Obama is probably the most famous Third Culture Kid (TCK)/Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK); and he grew up as both. TCK's are children who spend a large amount of their formative years growing up outside of their parents' culture. These kids have also been known as Army Brats, Missionary Kids, Cross-Cultural Kids, global nomads, or children of expatriates. Their birth culture is their first culture; their second is their new culture; and their third is the combined culture they create by integrating the first two cultures, forming something completely new and different. TCK's have different relationships with each of their cultures than would someone who has only lived in one culture. Many TCK's grow up never having a feeling of home, or belonging, anywhere they live because they are not from just one culture. Some TCK's make the world their home and flourish, as has President Obama.

"A Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK) is a person who has lived in—or meaningfully interacted with—two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during developmental years.” - CCK definition and subgroups by Ruth E. Van Reken, co-author Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds. There are many sub-types of CCK, including children of immigrants, minorities and refugees, so I'm including this link for you to check them out and learn more:

The majority of students in my own classroom are TCK, CCK or both. In fact, I lovingly call my class a mini-United Nations. My students hail from Eastern Europe, Central and South America, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. I, myself, am an adult TCK/CCK with many friends who are also members of this diverse group, so I understand many of my student's issues and how they may feel.

Growing up as a CCK/Domestic TCK, I experienced differences in language, accents and dialect, climate, geography, educational curriculum within the same grade level, and culture. Whenever I opened my mouth to speak, I was easily identified as other than a local. I also have a completely different life experience and survival skill set than do others who were born and raised in one place and culture. As a result of my childhood experiences, I never feel totally at home, because I'm not from any one place, often feel restless to move again, and tend to feel more comfortable in the company of other other "travelers." I resist the idea of moving because I know that I'll experience the same restless feeling wherever I go, as well. I've learned that home is where you currently live, wherever that may be, not where you're from. Another benefit of my experience is that I love to travel, meet new people, and learn about and experience other cultures.

Political, business and educational leaders should learn as much as they can about TCK/CCK folks like us, as we often think and learn differently, and have different social and cultural issues than do those in the traditional "monoculture" of the country in which we live, and we will affect the culture and climate of your society, office and classroom.

For more information on TCK's, please check out this link:

To better understand a TCK/CCK, please read The Story of Mr. Roundhead:

Here is a link to a TIME article about another influential TCK, Kevin Conrad, who stood up to the United States during the Dec. 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, saying, "If, for some reason, you're not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please, get out of the way!" The US backed down, opening the way for creation of the new Bali Action Plan.,28804,1841778_1841779_1841795,00.html

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