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July 03, 2009

Third Country Kids - Where is Home?

Ever stay in a foreign country so long you lose track of which country is really home? We all have a "passport country" but that doesn't mean that it will ever be home. Who are we when...

...we find a "home" far different than the culture of our birth and our families?

Kay Eakin, author of According to My Passport, I'm Coming Home, the term "third country kids" was first used 40 years ago by Ruth Hill Useem in her research on North American children growing up in India. She and others found that "third country kids" cope rather than adjust, becoming both "a part of" and "apart from" whatever situation they are in. These transcultural kids tend to have far more in common with each other than with their American peers who have not had internationally mobile experiences.

These are the kids who have spent their growing up years in a foreign country and experience a sense of not belonging to their passport country when they return to it. In adapting to life in a 'foreign' country they have also missed learning the nuances of their homeland and feel most at home in the 'third-culture' which they have created among their peers - other kids who have grown up in a cultural melange of cultures -m and individuals in transition. If they move back to their home country, they are rarely understood by American schools - or their native born peers. They are often considered oddities - for their taste in clothes, music or food when what third culture kids want most is to be accepted as the individuals they are.

These are the kids who, if they fit anywhere, fit in the margins - and don't really "belong" anywhere - but they have unique strengths and experiences.

For more on these kids check outhttp://www.state.gov/m/dghr/flo/c22473.htm.

I didn't grow up outside of my "passport home" but I might as well have. I "connect" far more with those of a transcultural world view than my native colleagues and neighbors. I did grow up in an area of extreme racial, ethnic and religious mixing on the West Coast of the United States. I just assume a high level of dynamic diversity in music, food and friends - I also expect a high level of respect and interactivity.

There are more and more of us - of all cultures and ages. What are your experiences adapting to life abroad - and back "home"?

We are all learning. And it is always more fun to learn together. We can learn as much from the past as from the present.

I have asked readers of this blog to submit their dream job (related to language instruction). Send yours. The best length would be about 200-350 words. Over the next week or so, I'll be collecting them and I'll post the best one(s) and send the best writer this CD.

Yes, I'll send it anywhere in the world as long as you have a valid mailing address. Sound good? Then get writing!

I'll be doing several of these over the next few months. Good luck to all!


Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

What do you most want to do? Where would you like to be? Who would you want to work with?

About the author of this entry:

Morf has a B.A.from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle). Morf currently teaches English and writing for a local technical/vocational college with many international students. Morf prefers international and independent films, foods he can't pronounce, music no one else has heard of and riding his bicycle in foreign cities.

He is also waiting for an irresistible job offer...

Posted by mmorf at July 3, 2009 12:09 AM

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