A little while ago I spent a week in Menorca with my wife, Lyn. It is a beautiful island, in fact one of the few places that I am happy to return to time and time again. We were on holiday, and as such, despite our best efforts we looked very ‘British’ and most definitely not Spanish or Catalan. Our attempts at speaking Spanish were limited and interspersed with lots of English and bits of Italian and even French! During our stay, we spent some time sitting in cafe’s just watching people – it is a sort of hobby of mine. Whilst you cannot always tell a person’s nationality, we could almost always pick out the Minorcans; they not only spoke Spanish but they had easy-going mannerisms, greeted one other effusively and always appeared to be talking, with plenty of gestures. Meals were long affairs, where food, drink and conversation were all wrapped together. In a week, this is about as much culture as one is able to observe and participate in, after all we were holiday-makers – we didn’t belong there.
Our current issue of NSWNews explores something quite different from holidaying in a different country; actually leaving your home (and culture) and relocating in a different country and culture, multiple times. The stories told by Tracey, Emily and Isaac will resonate with a number of NSW families. Mobility is a feature of modern life in the West, but for many of our families it almost appears to be their raison d’être. They have left their home culture and now live in a different place; indeed, they may have lived in a number of different places since they first left that home-base. And for children, maybe very young when the family left or perhaps born after departure, that ‘home’ culture might be nothing more than the name of the country stamped on the front of their passport. These children are growing up in a country (or countries) very different from the home base of their parents – language, clothing, behaviour, values, aspirations and so on. They do not belong – not really. And yet they also no longer really belong in their passport country; hence the coining of the term Third Culture Kids (TCKs), back in the 1950s to describe children growing up in an inter-national environment.
Rebecca Grappo of RNG International states that all children have three basic needs, belonging, recognition and connection. The mobility of TCKs poses a significant challenge in terms of meeting these needs. Whilst it is clear from the articles within NSWNews that Emily and Isaac have coped well with the cultural challenges of moving, many young people do not. They almost appear to fall between the cultural cracks, not belonging anywhere, failing to be recognised for who they are, for their talents and qualifications and not feeling connected to any cultural group other than other TCKs. Within NorthStarWorldwide, we do hope that we are playing a part in helping our TCKs to recognise who they are, what gifts and talents that a good Creator has given them and in linking students with others around the world who are similar yet different. We recognise however that more does need to be done. We hope to be able to make some announcements in this area later in this academy year.