If you really want to annoy a third culture kid, just ask them “So, where are you from?”
A third culture kid (TCK) is someone who has spent a significant part of their growing up years in a foreign country. Dr. Ruth Hill Useem, sociologist and originator of the term Third Culture Kid, points out that these are “children who accompany their parents into another culture, usually for a parent’s career choice.”
My wife is a TCK and has three answers for those who ask “where are you from?” There’s the short story — “Japan.” There’s the story she tells at parties thrown by friends — “Japan, but I went to university in the States.” And then there’s the Sunday brunch response — “I call Japan home now, because that’s where my parents live, but I’ve lived overseas for 22 years now.”
Photo: El Tecnorrante
Her answer obviously depends on the person, as she certainly doesn’t want to waste her breath telling her life story to some idiot that doesn’t really care.
Unlike immigrants, TCKs don’t assimilate fully into their new culture, but rather adopt certain aspects of that culture into their life. The result is something that’s like another culture, a third culture.
Part of a senior thesis for film & media studies while at Georgetown University, Adrian Bautista wrote:
So Where’s Home? explores the unique perspectives and identities of Third Culture Kids…The purpose of this short documentary project is to understand why third culture kids struggle to answer the question of “so where’s home?” and the implications this difficulty has on personal identity.
We hope to see more great videos from Adrian. Be sure to check out his website.