“A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture.” Third Culture Kids – Growing Up Among Worlds by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. van Reken
Origin of term TCK
Sociologists Ruth Hill Useem and John Useem coined the term “Third Culture”, in the 1950s. They spent a year in India with the purpose of studying Americans living and working there. After having met not only expatriates from the US they noticed that the lifestyles of the expatriates differed from home and host cultures. It made up a culture of its own, shared by other expats. Useems labeled culture of origin as first culture, the host culture the second and the “shared commonalities of those living internationally mobile lifestyle” as the third culture (p 14, Third Culture Kids – David C. Pollock and Ruth E. van Reken, 2009). While John Useem focused on the adults Ruth Hill Useem took an interest in the young expatriates. She referred to them as Third Culture Kids.
Most people who are TCKs are unaware of it. I constantly stumble over new twitter connections revealing they have just found out about Third Culture Kids and that they actually are one – or rather ATCK – Adult Third Culture Kid. It is very often followed by a sigh of relief; that’s why I’m me! When I talk about TCKs in my workshops I rarely meet people who are familiar with the term; even though they are expats.
Three days ago I found an article on the funny yet true side of the TCK story – 31 statements along the line “You know you’re a TCK when …” . Tons of posts and pages of this kind can be found on the Internet, but this post is really worth sharing!
As I´m making pancakes for dinner I think about how this is one of the easy dishes that has followed us around the world. No matter where we have lived there has always been milk, flour and eggs for pancakes. We almost always make the thin ones. Sometimes a thick version in the oven, and occasionally American with baking powder. You say the word and everyone has their own perception of the dish in their mind. In Switzerland I remember inviting an American family over for an afternoon playdate. I made pancakes. Oh, the disappointment in the eyes of the visiting boys as we sat down to eat. Their mother tried desperately to explain how exciting it would be to try Swedish pancakes. But no. It just wasn´t their kind of pancake. To them the relocation to Europe was probably enough at the time. “Leave our pancakes alone!” #TCK
Do you know we use pancake in some Swedish idiomatic expressions ? Literal translations follows.
Upp som en sol ner som en pannkaka – Up like a sun down like a pancake
Himmel och pannkaka – Heaven and pancake
Det blir bara pannkaka av alltihop – It will all just be pancake