What is a TCK?
From Guest Writer, Julia Walker: You’ve landed in a new country, started teaching at your new international school and you begin to wonder: how are the students here different from the students back home and what does this mean for my own children, now that we live overseas? Children who grow up attending international schools, following their parents around the world, are typically known as Third Culture Kids (TCKs). But what is a TCK?
A TCK in this setting is typically defined as an individual who has spent the majority of their developmental years outside of their parents’ culture(s) or that of their passport country. This means these children typically create a “third” culture that is neither their parents’ culture or that of their host countries but actually a combination of them both.
For example, I identify as a Third Culture Kid because I was born in Canada but grew up in multiple countries, attending different international schools, before returning to Canada for university. I spent the majority of my formative years growing up outside of Canada, but never gained citizenship or permanent residency in any of these other countries. I’ve created my own culture by blending all the cultures I’ve interacted with over the years, including my passport country’s culture.
Most of the kids in international school classrooms are TCKs of some sort. Part of the culture they create comes from their international school itself. This is especially true for children of international teachers. The people they interact with become their family and everywhere they go, they’ll bring the places they’ve lived in along with them.
TCKs lead a highly mobile lifestyle, as they move countries very frequently or the people around them move a lot. This constant uprooting can bring many benefits, but also challenges to TCKs and their families. This means the students you teach, and children you bring with you, have unique experiences, skills, and perspectives that others might not have.
Stay tuned for future blog posts as we dive in deeper and explore what it is like to teach TCKs! For more info about Third Culture Kids, check out Across Oceans, the podcast that discusses all things related to TCKs, growing up overseas and more!
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