Sunday, 26 April 2015

Providing children with tools to tell their stories

My inspiration today is an amazing post by Eric Spreng, an international school teacher at the International School of Ouagadougou (the capital of Burkina Faso). I wish there were more international school teachers like him. I wish I had teachers like him when I grew up in Africa.

He teaches to promote student voice, he provides the students with tools they need to articulate themselves and their stories, especially when these stories challenge the dominate narratives that would marginalize them. I think this is what all children need but especiallt third culture kids. They need tools to articulate themselves. They need tools to be able to tell their story in what ever environment or situation they are.

Recently I came across this quote and I believe it is so true.

"All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them" these are words by Karen Blixen, the author of the book "Out of Africa".

Third culture kids grow up often moving from country to country with their parents. It can be very exciting and adventerous but the other side of the coin is that they often have to depart and leave friends and familiar places. They often have to say goodbyes. These moments can be painful and sad. If they are equipped with tools to tell their stories it could be great help for them in life. It will make them more resilient and more able to thrive in this global world.

Not only teachers can teach kids the importance of their stories, but we as parents can teach our
Photo by DrieCulturen, taken at Schiphol
children too. Decades of research has shown that most happy families communicate effectively. It means that as a family you tell a positive story about yourselves. If you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family's positive moments and your ability to bounce back from difficult ones. Read more on this topic in the article The Stories that Bind Us.

So back to Eric Spreng's post. He says: "From the beginning of the year, I make it clear that student voice is one of our great resources, that students' diverse experiences and cultures are assests to us as a community of learners. He gives examples of students that develop their own voice, do read his post called "Why I teach: Voice, Discourse and Empathy."

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Saturday, 14 February 2015

Highlights in 2014?

It's been a while since I wrote on this blog. 2015 is a new year and I hope to surprise you with more posts than in 2014. I only wrote twice last year so I am sure I can write more this year. Even though I do not write frequently it is good to know that there are still constant vistors finding this blog daily. Thank you all for coming by and reading on this blog I hope you found words that were helpful or useful.

I would like to update you on things that are happening in the third culture kid world. There is an interesting and very informative review on the Tckid website with a review of the many events that took place and new books that were published. It's worth reading the TCKid 2014 Year in Review.

Coming up soon is the Families in Global Transition Conference 2015 it is from 6-8 th of March in the USA. I wish it was here in Europe, it would much easier to attend. Hopefully one day I will attend the Figt conference. The theme this year is Finding "Home": Amidst Global Change. If you want to have an idea what the figt conference is like read an except of the soon to be published Figt year book. The except is on Cultural Complexity and Hidden Diversity: Exploring today's TCKs. Are any of you planning to go to the figt conference 2015? Do let us know and maybe you can share your most valuable insight here.

Recently I was asked whether there are meetups in the Netherlands for third culture kids or adult third culture kids. For those who are interested there is a facebook group called: TCKid Netherlands. There are plans to organize new meetups.

By the way one of my personal highlights in 2014 was visiting Havana, Cuba with a group of medical students. It was a great priviledge to meet the Cuban people and to see how the healthcare is organized. Maybe I will tell you more about this trip in another post. As an adult TCK I still like travelling, tasting new food, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.

Havana Cuba, photo by DrieCulturen
What was your personal highlight in 2014?

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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Help: Another Third Culture Kid is Going to University/College!

This afternoon at 4 pm Dutch time there will be a TCKchat on twitter and the theme is advice for third information can be found here. So while think on this topic I remembered a recent article I have read. It's on the experiences of third culture kids transitioning to university life in Australia. The article was published in the International Journal of Intercultural Relations and is written bij Lauren Purnell and Elizabeth Hoban. The lead researcher Purnell is an adult TCK who spent 14 years of her upbringing living in Botswanna, Vietnam and Nepal before moving to Australia after graduating from high school overseas.
When studying in Holland: you need a bike! Photo DrieCulturen
culture kids on going to university or college. These TCKchats (#TCKchat) are held every first and third Wednesday of the month.

During the research 12 in-depth interviews were held with Australian TCKs aged 18-27 years who had spent 3-18 years living abroad and had lived in Australia for 7 months to 9 years.

4 Themes emerged from the data and a TCK Transition into University Model was developed. This model included 4 Stages:
  1. Preparedness prior to transition
  2. Initial experience during transition (initial 6 months in passport country)
  3. Adjustment during transition (6 months to 2 yrs)
  4. Stabilization (2 yrs and beyond)
The key findings included participants who received preparation from their school and family prior to moving, had practical support in Australia and engaged in Australian social networks and university life experienced improved emotional health and made way for a positive transition.

My short conclusion is:
  1. Families and schools should prepare TCKs for the transition
  2. Parents should make sure there are friends or family available for practical help 
  3. TCKs should try and get involved in university life or other social activities.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Adult Third Culture Kids: Potential Global Leaders with Cross-Cultural Competence?

Time's flying and it is high time for me to write a new post. I once again read some interesting articles which I really feel I need to share with you. The first is a disseratation "Adult Third Culture Kids: Potential Global Leaders with Global Mindset" by Patricia Stokke (2013).

"The ability to bridge differences is an example of how ATCKs may integrate their international experience preparing them to work in global organisations." The ATCKs seem to be good "bridge builders". Patricia says that future research needs to be done to bring ATCKs and business together so that not only ATCKs recognize their global skills and abilities, but that recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers appreciate the potential value these individuals can offer organisations.

I came across another interesting article in the Journal of Global Mobiliy. This journal is new by the way and currently the articles in the first 3 issues are available for free (until the end of March 2014). In the article "Antecedents of dynamic cross-cultural competence in adult third culture kids (ATCKs)" by Tarique and Weisbord they look at what the predictors are of cross-cultural competence. They found that there are 5 predictors of cross-cultural competence in ATCKs:

  1. Varienty of early international exeperience (number of counries lived in) 
  2. Language diversity 
  3. The number of languages they speak
  4. Family diversity (the number of different ethnicities in their family's background)
  5. The personality trait of openess to experience (to which extend are individuals original, innovative and willing to take risks)
By the way dynamic cross-cultural competence includes knowledge, skills and attributes that are aquired through learning experiences. So it seems that  experiencing international travel during childhood and growing up abroad can provide competencies today's employers seek. This is good news for ATCKs. I feel I already knew this and you probably did too but I like it when research confirms these kind of things.

I like the article on DenizenMag "Making the Most of Your TCK Experience When Applying For a Job". As a TCKs you have adapted to new environments, so you will probably adapt quickly to your new working environment. Probably you have learnt to be flexible and adjust. You may be a "bridge builder". You may be have cross-cultural and multilingual communication skills. Recognize your own global skills and abilities! Make sure you mention them in your résumé. This is one of the things Ruth van Reken said too when she spoke at EuroTCK in Germany in 2013.

So it looks like we have cross-cultural competence, we are "bridge builders", we are the people empoyers are seeking. Will we be the global leaders of tomorrow? What do you think? Looking forward to your comments.

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Photo thanks to NPClark2k Morgue File

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Third Culture Kid Christmas Wishes!

Happy Christmas to you all! I want to break the 7 week silence to give you season greetings and share some of my Christmas season experiences. I had a "TCK moment" at a Christmas concert in Leiden, the Netherlands recently. There were a couple of choirs that sang Christmas carols in different languages (Dutch, English, French and Spanish). I really enjoy singing Christmas carols. The audience was encouraged to sing athe chorus of "The Star Carol". The conductor made us practise because he said that the Star Carol was not well-known. When I heard it memories came back to me of singing carols at Townsend Highschool in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and at my primary school in Blantyre Malawi. Where did I learn that carol? Was it in Malawi or Zimbabwe? I just don't know. It was my "TCK moment", realizing that my past was different from that of the Dutch lady sitting next to me.

Can you feel "at home" while singing a familiar carol? I did have some kind of feeling like that. There is something about music that can trigger memories. Here is the chorus of the Star Carol, maybe you know it too:
Spotted this tree in Antwerpen, Belgium

"See His star shining bright
In the sky this Christmas night!
Follow me joyfully;
Hurry to Bethlehem and see the son of Mary!"

I had another "TCK moment" during an international Christmas church service on Christmas eve. At the end of the service we all sang Silent Night and we were encouraged to sing it in our mother tongue all at the same time. What an interesting mix of languages! While we were singing I discovered that I know the words of Silent Night better in English than in Dutch, eventhough I am Dutch and it is officially my mother tongue. While growing up in Africa most carols were sang at church and at school and the language there was English. So I know the English version better than the Dutch.....

A couple of days ago I was walking in Antwerpen, Belgium and I spotted a third culture kid Chrismas tree, it was a tree full of "travel boxes". Even TCKs that are adults and have settled down, like me, often still love travelling or feel some kind of bond with travelling.
What will the new year bring us? New travels? Or will we stay in one place and grow some roots? These are some of the questions adult TCKs ponder about. What about you? Will it be a year of moving or staying in one place?

I want to share a comment Rebecca posted. I interviewed Rebecca 1,5 years ago, you can read the interesting interview here. She is raising trilingual expat kids here in the Netherlands. I asked her where home is for her daughters. Recently her daughter said "Home is where the people you love live." I hope you were "home" this season, with the people you love! Did you have any "TCK moments" this season? Please share them with us.

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