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David Pollock, co-author with Ruth VanReken of "Third Culture Kids – The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds", has produced what is considered to be the classic definition of a TCK:

A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents' culture. 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.

"Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds" by David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken, published by Intercultural Press, 2001.

Two realities shape the formation of a TCK:

  1. being raised in a genuinely cross-cultural world and
  2. being raised in a highly mobile world (either the child himself or those around him are constantly coming and going)

A child's sense of identity, world view, relationships and allegiances are formed during the developmental years. This is when core parts of his or her personality and value systems are being formed. Subconsciously he is absorbing the influences of the cultures with which he is surrounded. When he is constantly moving around, it is difficult to establish his own sense of personal identity.

A significant part of the developmental years refers to spending enough time interacting in a mobile, multi-cultural setting to impact the fundamental core values that are established during the birth to 18 years. ‘Ownership' refers to the sense of belonging. When asked, "Where do you come from?" the child may be confused. He feels pulled in many directions – the parents' culture, the host country culture, the expatriate culture, the school culture, etc. Not feeling rooted in any one culture, he doesn't ‘belong' anywhere. As a result, the TCK assimilates elements from each of those cultures into his or her own personality and life experience. The more cultures he is exposed to, the more he will incorporate.

IFT founder, Tina Quick, herself being a TCK and raising three TCK daughters across four cultures and continents has a special passion for maximizing the benefits and addressing the challenges that these global nomads, both children and adults, face as a result of their highly mobile, cross cultural upbringing. IFT provides workshops and seminars specific to meeting the needs of students, parents, families, individuals, schools, colleges and universities and mental health professionals who work with TCKs.

Some TCK Issues:

  • Returning to the TCK's passport country for a college (tertiary) education.
  • Preparing your child to become a TCK.
  • Mobility and what it means to a child.
  • Returning ‘home'- the hidden or invisible immigrant.
  • Restlessness and Rootlessness.
  • Relationships
  • Repatriation – leaving well to enter well.
  • Language dilemmas.
  • Cultural loyalties – confused or unpatriotic?
  • Becoming a global citizen.
  • Developmental issues – personal identity, delayed adolescence and rebellion.
  • Unresolved grief.

Building a Strong Foundation:

  • How parents can help.
  • How schools can help.

International Family Transitions: (1) 781-439-8490

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