More Than Skin Deep

Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
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Trip End Jun 01, 2012


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Thursday, February 21, 2008



A good friend that spent her entire life living abroad... moving from country to country recently told Deb and I that some of the actions of our boys are not just being tried on for size... they are not just wearing their new culture and removing it like an item of clothing... but that it is apart of them... apart of their flesh... becoming apart who they are... This made perfect sense... as Deb and I struggle through yet another parental milestone... The facilitation of ones children moving into more independent roles that they often push hard for... straining against whatever it is that alters their path... randomly choosing to jump over it...
push it aside or smash it to pieces... We have experienced each one of these maneuvers... and as any good parent would, we take deep breaths while trying to negotiate, remain calm and occasionally we just simply lose it... wild eyed, pursed lips, raised voice and all...................

"The boys" are changing... not only through the elevation in their levels of testosterone... but via their experiences as a TCK kid. International schools and researchers have studied and classified a group of students whom share a common culture... one that is multi-dimensional... as they become bits and pieces of the cultures that they live within. TCK is an acronym for Third Culture Kids... referring to a child that has spent a period of time in one or more culture(s) other than their "own", integrating aspects of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture. As a parent, it can be both a fascinating and painful process to observe... as we watch our children negotiate their way through a world of constant cultural immersion...

As I am new to the observations and theories behind the study of TCK kids... I am not going to continue to write about what it is that I have little experience with... so I am including, what I feel is a well rounded, amalgamated paragraph on Global Nomads, otherwise known as TCK kids...

Third culture kids grow up in a genuinely cross-cultural world. While expatriates watch and study cultures that they live in, third culture kids actually live in different cultural worlds. Third culture kids have incorporated different cultures on the deepest level, as to have several cultures incorporated into their thought processes. This means that third culture kids not only have deep cultural access to at least two cultures, this also means that thought processes are truly multicultural.
This, in turn, influences how third culture kids relate to the world around them, and makes third culture kids' thought processes different even from members of cultures they have deep-level access to. TCKs also have certain personal characteristics in common.
Growing up in the third culture rewards certain behaviors and personality traits in different ways than growing up in a single culture does, which results in common characteristics. Third culture kids are often tolerant cultural chameleons who can choose to what degree they wish to display their background.
As a result third culture kids develop a sense of belonging everywhere and nowhere. Their experiences among different cultures and various relationships makes it difficult for them to have in-depth communication with those who have not experienced similar conditions.
While third culture kids usually grow up to be independent and cosmopolitan, they also often struggle with their identity and with the losses they have suffered in each move. Some may feel very nationalistic toward one country, while others call themselves global citizens.

This entry is an incorporation of Carsten and Aidan experiencing life through their interactions with new friends, new places and new experiences... in their host country... Turkey... as they become bits and pieces of their cultural consumption...



A quick snapshot of the boys lives... from their perspective... includes.......................
Going to school five days a week... sitting in bilingual classes where Turkish and English are simultaneously spoken... playing the universal game of tag with friends, yet needing to quickly adapt to the various rules that each kid comes with... rapidly incorporating a bit of Italian, Australian, American, Turkish and Japanese rules... while on the run.......................
Watching strange birds, tortoises, creepy bugs and wild dogs cross our paths, wondering what methods of defense each might possess... struggling with the fight or flight response...................
Walking the outdoor food markets and wondering what strange foods the parents are picking up next... to try... and to try and get me to eat... no way... looks scary... but sometimes finding that it is my new favorite food... negotiating for the best prices... for my parents don't speak much Turkish... but I love it for it feels powerful to be able to communicate while my parents stand by looking dumb... a role that I am more used to being in....................
Spending the night at my friends apartment... watching him place his thumb on a sensor pad to open up an elevator that takes us to only his apartment on the top floor of the apartment building... hearing stories about being ushered around in bullet proof cars while being attended to by the house servants... finding out his dad is the ambassador to Australia... realizing how poor my family is compared to many of my friends... and how small my apartment is... about twice the size of my friends bedroom...............
Playing video games with some of my Turkish friends... squeezing into their tiny apartments... and loving it... but realizing how poor they really are... but not as poor as the kids that I see living in the tin sheds on the other side of Ankara...................... Driving off to old towns my dad calls ancient... looks old... but not quite sure yet what ancient means, but I think I'm starting to................... Swimming in the sea and snorkeling... seeing cool fish that are colorful and much bigger than the ones in MN lakes.......................
Hiking up and exploring old castles... palaces and mansions... kind of understanding the differences between them..................
Waking up and making waffles and pouring too much honey on them and adding a few sprinkles of powdered sugar... feels like an American breakfast... wondering if it's fattening?............... Starting to understand more and more Turkish language... but not letting most of the Turkish kids know, because I love to listen in on what they are saying, without them knowing I understand... kind of cool................
Crossing streets with cars almost hitting me... and sidewalks with thousands of people crossing my path... scary, but not anymore... I love it, and can find my way through the twisting narrow streets in Ulus, the old part of the city.................... Waking up in the VW kamper van and jumping out to explore an old Roman aqueduct and a cave in the mountains......................
Singing Christmas carols in Danish while holding hands and dancing around the tree... wondering why we didn't do this in America................. Screaming, crying and yelling and not knowing why... but just doing it because it feels good and also bad at the same time... confused..................
Singing the Turkish national anthem at the end of the day on Friday... last 10 minutes of school... with everybody... not sure about the word nationalism that my mom and dad tell me about... but I like the singing part.................. Trying to get my parents to let me meet them back at the bed and breakfast in London... they just don't understand that I know how to use the underground tube....................
Being dragged off to another museum... except I am starting to like them because of all of the cool things inside................... Exploring the inside of a mosque with my dad... and having the sounds of prayers start... wanting to quickly push my way through the Turkish men coming in to pray... instead sitting quietly on the floor with my dad and brother and listening to the Imam sing prayers and the men stand and kneel while they put their heads to the ground... not sure what to think........................
Playing football... or soccer... no I will call it football because that is what everyone else seems to call it... anyway playing on the US military base... kind of scary going through security and having our van checked for bombs... anyway enjoying being on a team and playing with a bunch of kids from all over the city... and the world... and wondering why the American kids are so loud and rude? Am I that way too?.........................
Dressing up in Halloween costumes and going to the US embassy for a haunted embassy trick or treat party... once again going through many security check points... until I get to the walled compound inside... finally feeling comfortable being inside this modern castle and hearing mostly english............... Using Turkish swear words that my mom and dad don't know... and having them practice the words... very funny... not good when they find out what the words really mean... but still very funny.............................. Buying eggs, bread or candy from Mehmet... in Turkish...............................
Running around ancient Roman and Greek ruins... thinking about being a gladiator... but the buildings look different than the ones in the video games or movies??? .................................
Having the school campus as my backyard... and the freedom to come and go from our apartment... without my parents having to be with me...I like this thing called freedom and responsibility... I want more..............................
Flying in airplanes, riding on horses, taking ferry boats, hailing taxis, jumping through the closing doors of the subway cars, riding trains near the sea and through tunnels... and running through the hills and mountains looking for tortises..

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Comments

starlagurl
starlagurl on

Very introspective
That is very introspective writing, and it is fascinating to hear about kids growing up in different cultures in our shrinking, globalized world. Extremely nice post.

Louise Brown
TravelPod Community Manager

joecota
joecota on

Terrific
This commentary with pics is very well done..It will be timeless as this family grows older..(notice I said older not old)

Understanding the challenges for the boys and parents alike is easily observed from this blog..

Good job...

F/Grandpa

boleador
boleador on

Wonderful post! I'd never heard about TCKs until now, AND I AM ONE! The description of TCKs took words directly out of my mouth.

This is truly a personal revelation!

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