You who are on the road must have a code that you can live by.
And so become yourself, because the past is just a goodbye.
Graham Nash – Teach Your Children
“A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture.Â The TCK builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.”
David C. Pollock & Ruth E. Van Reken
Do I Qualify? (As a TCK, that is)
See the timeline. Yeah, I guess I qualify.
Stephen Alter, a Woodstock alumnus a few years older than myself, published a book in 1998 called All the Way to Heaven: An American Boyhood in the Himalayas. It’s not an entirely satisfying book; he leaves too many questions unanswered about how he did finally deal with the confusions of identity and culture caused by his unusual upbringing – confusions very familiar to many of us. But there are some beautiful and funny stories and plenty of description, which makes it a good introduction to the place for those who’ve never been to Woodstock (and a great nostalgia trip for those who have).
Resources for TCKs
very comprehensive Wikipedia article
At Home Abroad (regular section of the International Herald Tribune) – e.g., When Expat Runs in the Family
Global Nomads International
Third Culture Kids: Returning to their Passport Country
US State Department links page
April, 2004: In Memoriam
Dave Pollock, tireless advisor, counselor, and advocate for third-culture kids, died on Easter. I had the privilege of attending his TCK workshop at a Woodstock reunion; these workshops were epiphanies of self-understanding and healing for many of us. TCKs worldwide will miss him, and are grateful for all that he has done for us.