One common frustration that TCKs have when they talk to other non-TCKs: being accused of bragging when they talk about their experiences abroad. After spending my early childhood in Thailand, I craved opportunities to talk to my friends in the States about the country that I had called home. I wanted to make observations and compare experiences with friends.
“Wow! Americans eat so many potatoes! In Thailand, we had rice all the time. And there was this one really good rice dish that had….” At this point, people would stop listening.
I quickly learned that my classmates grew uncomfortable with such talk. They didn’t know what to say or else they would seem annoyed. I realized by observing other classmates that, among my peers, any talk about travel outside of the state (much less the country!) would lead others to feel jealous. It was considered bragging to speak about such things.
It can be quite difficult for a TCK, whose experiences have mostly been abroad, to find conversation with non-TCKs that interests them, relates to them, and doesn’t cause others to despise them.
But, among fellow TCKs, conversations about cultural differences, the best airports, and life as a traveler flow free. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that TCKs find themselves bonding together much quicker than they would with other non-TCKs.
And perhaps it is why I find myself watching videos on youtube like this one below. Enjoy!
If you want to help an Third Culture Kid as they transition, consider one of the following suggestions:
- Give TCKs the opportunity to share about their experiences among friends. In school, my mom would make our classroom Thai food so that I could share a piece of my life with them.
- Treat a TCK to a restaurant that serves food from somewhere they have lived. This will give you lots of opportunities to connect with them in their own comfort zone.
- Admit when you don’t know how to respond. Instead of just remaining silence when someone shares about something you don’t know how to respond to, just say, “It sounds like you have been to so many places. I’m having a hard time imagining what that must have been like.” (Bonus suggestion: follow this last statement with, “Help me understand what your experience has been like”)
Note: TCKs in recent transition may not feel emotionally prepared to talk about the homes they have left. Be sure to measure a TCKs openness to talking about their past cultures before continuing with suggestions 1 or 2.