I’m over at the Wall Street Journal‘s Expat blog, a hub for expatriates and global nomads with stories about expat living (housing, education, healthcare), expat jobs, and managing finances abroad, with my reflections on the term “third culture kid.”
On her preschool’s international day, my four-year-old daughter wears a colorful cotton kurta—a long, South Asian tunic—and waves the Stars and Stripes. My American partner and I moved to Singapore for his job in 2010; our child is a South-Asian-American “Third Culture Kid” born and growing up in Southeast Asia.
I bristle at this label—TCK—to describe her. In the book “Third Culture Kids: Growing Amongst Worlds,” sociologist David Pollock defines a TCK as “a person who has spent a significant part of his developmental years outside the parents’ culture(s).” A TCK may incorporate elements from each culture, but he also feels the closest sense of belonging with others like him, he writes.
I grew up outside my parents’ culture. They migrated to the U.S. from India in the early 1970s and I was born in New York City at the end that of that decade. However, they, and I, were plain ol’ “immigrants,” first- and second-generation respectively. While, of course, migrants who plan on repatriating are usually called “expats,” and those who consider their move permanent are usually called “immigrants,” it is undeniable that these various words within the language of migration carry various connotations of race, place and class.
Continue reading “Please Don’t Call My Child a Third Culture Kid.”