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Understanding the “New Normal” of a Cross-Cultural Childhood Facilitated by Ruth E. Van Reken.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding the “New Normal” of a Cross-Cultural Childhood Facilitated by Ruth E. Van Reken."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding the “New Normal” of a Cross-Cultural Childhood Facilitated by Ruth E. Van Reken

2  My story  Defining our terms ◦ Where we’ve been ◦ Where we are  Why a cross-cultural childhood matters  Why a highly mobile childhood matters  How to grow from both gifts and challenges



5 First Culture (Home/Passport) Second Culture (Host) (“Neither/Nor World”) Third Culture (International Lifestyle)

6 “ A person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents' culture(s)...

7  Cross-cultural lifestyle  High mobility  Expected repatriation  Often a “ system identity ”


9  In 1984, Dr. Ted Ward declared Third Culture Kids (TCKs) as the “ prototype citizens ” of the future.  Why?


11  A Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK) is a person who is living in — or meaningfully interacting with — two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during developmental years of childhood (first 18 years of life). ◦ A Cross-Cultural Adult (CCA) is one who made first significant cross-cultural interaction as an adult ◦ Adult Cross-Cultural Kid (ACCK) is someone who grew up as a CCK.  Ruth E. Van Reken, co-author, Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds, 2002

12 Cross- Cultural Kids Children of Immigrants Children of Minorities Domestic TCKs Biracial Kids Bi (Double?) cultural Kids TCKs International Adoptees Children of Border- landers Educational CCKs Children of Refugees Examples of Cross-Cultural Kids


14 Cross- Cultural Kids Children of Immigrants Privileged Mil. Kids Miss. Kids Foreign Ser.Kids Bus. Kids Children of Minorities Domestic TCKs Biracial Kids Bicultural Kids TCKs International Adoptees Children of Border- landers Educational CCKs Children of Refugees Discrimi nated Growing Complexity Barack Obama’s Circles Other

15  Cross- Cultural Adults (CCAs) - ) Those who made first significant cross-cultural interaction as an adult  Third Culture Adults (TCAs) - Those who make their first long-term international cross-cultural move as adults.  Cross-Cultural Kids (CCKs) - those who interact menaingfully with various cultural worlds as children.  Third Culture Kids (TCKs) -“Children who accompany their parents into another culture.”  Ruth Useem’s definition  Adult Cross-Cultural Kids - those who grew up as CCKs of any sort  Third Culture Kids (ATCKs) - Those who grew up as TCKs  Other?

16  Large world view vs. ignorance of passport culture  Switching between school and home culture vs. opportunity to interact with others of different backgrounds  Linguistic skills vs. linguistic confusion  Cultural chameleon: adaptability vs. lack of true cultural balance  Arrogance: real vs. perceived  Belonging “everywhere and nowhere”  Great opportunity to travel/see the world vs. rootless and restless  Independence vs. isolation  Guardedness in forming close relationships all rights reserved Ruth E. Van Reken

17  Can be effective cultural bridge  Language skills  Observational skills  Thinking “outside the box”  Adaptability  Confidence  To start something new  To move and start again

18  Question of identity ◦ “ Which of my many selves am I? ” ◦ “ I never feel like I belong anywhere …. ”  Unresolved grief ◦ Depression ◦ Withdrawal, etc all rights reserved Ruth E. Van Reken

19  What is the difference between a traditional monocultural upbringing and a cross- cultural upbringing?

20 “ Customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group. ” --Webster ’ s Tenth Collegiate Dictionary\ “... System of shared assumptions, beliefs and values. It is the framework from which we interpret and make sense of life and the world around us. ” --Paul Hiebert, Cultural Anthropology, 2d ed.

21 Dr. Gary Weaver ’ s Cultural Iceberg Food Traditions Customs Language Values Beliefs Worldview Language

22  How is culture learned?  How is a sense of “ cultural balance ” learned?  How does that relate to identity development?

23  Not the process but the worlds in which their development takes/took place Home in Afghanistan of Chinese Canadian mom, White Canadian dad, children attend multinational school

24 Cross-Cultural Kids Previous Place(s) They Lived Caregivers Ethnic Subculture? Where They Live Now Parental Sponsoring Organization? Adapted from chart by Norma McCaig, Founder of Global Nomads International School

25 ForeignerHidden Immigrant Look Different Think Different Look Alike Think Different AdoptedMirror Look Different Think Alike Look Alike Think Alike PolVan Cultural Identity Model @1996

26  Hidden Diversity — a diversity of experience that shapes a person ’ s life and world view but is not readily apparent on the outside, unlike the usual diversity markers such as race, ethnicity, nationality, etc  Ruth E.Van Reken and Paulette Bethel, CIES, 2003.

27  “ Chameleon ”— tries to find “ same as ” identity  “ Screamer ”— tries to find “ different from ” identity  “ Wallflower ”— tries to find “ non-identity ” (be invisible)

28  A common sense of national identity  A similar sense of “ Where is home? ”

29  In interpersonal relationships ◦ Spouses/significant others ◦ Peers at university or workplace ◦ Teachers


31  Cycles of mobility  Frequency of mobility  Community of mobility

32  Each move involves going through a transition cycle ◦ Multiple mini-transitions may be in each big one

33  Involvement  Leaving (Change)  Transition  Entry  Re-involvement

34  Everyone in the family will be going through transition but not all at the same pace!

35  Each transition cycle involves loss as well as potential gain

36  The loss of something you love leads to grief  Grief will always be expressed, either consciously or unconsciously

37  Denial  Anger  Bargaining  Sadness/Depression  Withdrawal  Rebellion  Vicarious grief  Delayed grief

38 The Grief Wheel stages based on Dr. Elisabeth Kühbler Ross’s work LOSSES DenialAnger SadnessBargaining Acceptance Wheel model by Pam Davis, counselor


40  Lack of awareness ◦ Losses are often “ hidden ” because they are intangible or invisible: What might some be?  Loss of a world  Loss of the dream  Loss of status  Loss of a sense of “ system identity ”  Loss of a sense of cultural balance  Loss of cultural cohesion in the family  Loss of lifestyle  Loss of possessions  Loss of relationships  Loss of system identity  Loss of the past that wasn’t  Loss of the past that was

41 To understand why unresolved grief occurs…  Lack of permission to grieve ◦ Grief is discounted ◦ Grief is compared to the higher good ◦ Grief is denied  Lack of time to process  Lack of comfort ◦ Difference between comfort and encouragement


43  “ Normalize ” the process – remember they are KIDS!!!! ◦ Understand the dynamics ◦ Recognize and validate relationship with “international culture” or “cross-cultural culture” as well as national/family culture

44  Develop a strong sense of family identity ◦ Use portable traditions ◦ Vacation as you travel ◦ Maintain close contact with relatives here and “ there ” ◦ Keep threads of connection strong  “Sacred objects”

45  For globally mobile families, try to keep a permanent “home base” of some sort in passport culture if you plan to return  Consider how each move works in the grand scheme of entire family’s needs

46  Intentionally learn about places you live and visit ◦ History ◦ Geography ◦ Culture  Maintain languages learned  Teach kids good packing skills!!

47  Application forms  Parent-teacher conferences  Writing, art, discussion in class

48  When TCKs/CCKs react  Remind them that they don ’ t have to reject either the past or the present to preserve the other – they can be both/and  (But don ’ t be mad at them!)

49  Try to understand the “statement” they are making with their behavior ◦ Is it the only way they know to try and find their unique identity? ◦ Is it grief? ◦ Is it fear of losing their past?

50  Help TCKs realize they can be both/and, not either/or ◦ “ My life is like Window Each part is open and accessible, but I have to operate in the one that ’ s on the screen. ” ◦ Journey of clarification


52  What we can do  ◦ Build a RAFT  Reconciliation  Affirmation  Farewells  To people  To places  To pets  To possessions  Think Destination ◦ How do we build a RAFT for different ages?

53  Name our losses, (obvious & hidden) sometimes by affirming the past! ◦ Journal ◦ Scrapbook ◦ Talking to someone who will listen without “ fixing ” ◦ Painting ◦ Music

54  “Unpack your bags and plant your trees”  Say hello well ◦ Accept invitations to meet others ◦ Help kids explore new environment ◦ Find good mentor ◦ Invite others over

55  Find ways to keep in contact with the past while moving to the future ◦ Journey of clarification ◦ Internet ◦ Skype

56  For “reentry,” help children think through the answer to “Where are you from?” before they repatriate  For families sending children to university in a culture outside passport culture, maintain “sense of home” here and seek to make connections for support there

57  Remember your kids may need some extra help ◦ Don’t assume they know all you do  Tutor  Practical lessons from you!

58  Remind your kids that they can never lose what they have gained as TCKs/CCKs ◦ Moving towards the future (including their passport culture) is simply building on that foundation


60  To quote Garth Brooks… ◦ “I could have missed the pain, but I’d ‘a had to miss…the DANCE!”  Garth Brooks, “The Dance”

61 Enjoy the journey!

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