What is a Third Culture Kid?

Third culture kid (TCK) is a term used to refer to children raised in a culture other than their parents’ (or the culture of the country given on the child’s passport, where they are legally considered native) for a significant part of their early development years.

The term was first coined by researchers John and Ruth Useem in the 1950s, who used it to describe the children of American citizens working and living abroad. Ruth Useem first used the term after her second year-long visit to India with her fellow sociologist/anthropologist husband and three children.

There are considered to be particular benefits to and challenges resulting from growing up as a TCK. Because of their cross-cultural upbringing, TCKs are considered to often have an expanded world view, a more multi-dimensional understanding of the world and cultures, and sometimes cultural adaptability. Challenges include difficulty adjusting to adult life, especially on return to passport country, feelings of isolation, and feelings of non-belonging.

There are numerous resources to learn more about issues pertaining to Third Culture Kids, Cross-Cultural Kids, Global Nomads, and those who are asking questions about issues of place and belonging.

The mission of Interaction International is to be a catalyst and a resource working cooperatively in the development of programs, services and publications to provide and contribute to an ongoing flow of care that meets the needs of Third Culture Kids* (TCKs) and internationally mobile families. http://www.interactionintl.org

Denizen is an online magazine and community dedicated to people who grew up in multiple countries, international school alumni, or Third Culture Kids.

TCKid is a active global community of Third Culture Kid (TCK) adults and youth across geographical boundaries.

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