Friday, 28 October 2011

Libby Stephens explains what third culture kids are!

Libby Stephens explains in this short video what third culture kids are. Libby is a cross-cultural transition consultant. In short she knows lots about third culture kids and has been working with them for more than 25 years. Let's just say she's an expert on this topic.

In my last post A confession to make about the term third culture kids I already wrote about the definition.

Putting it simply. She explains what the 3 different cultures are.
  1. The first has to do with legality. What is your nationality? In my case that would be Dutch.
  2. The 2nd culture has to do with geography. In which countries have you lived in? I have lived in Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and the Netherlands.
  3. The 3rd culture has to do with community. It is all about a group of people that have lived some of their growing up years internationally. So this is all about relationships. It's true I really feel at home in an international environment.
Have you seen the short trailer "Les Passagers" all about third culture kids by Aga Magdolen. It's really worth watching!
    Do you have any questions about what third culture kids are? Have you heard of the term before?


    1. It's all well and good that Libby Stephens has constructed this 3-level definition but it conflicts with the original definition by the late David C. Pollock and the still amazing Ruth Van Reken in their seminal work Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds originally published in 1999 and updated since. They define TCKs: 'A TCK is a person who has spent a significant part of his/her developmental years outside the parents' culture(s). The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures (i.e., one or both parents', home/birth/passport country, any country/culture they've lived in during their life - my examples), while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCKs' life experience, THE SENSE OF BELONGING IS IN RELATIONSHIP TO OTHERS OF SIMILAR BACKGROUND.' (My caps) They include figures reflecting this. Often people confuse the words and think 'third culture' is the mix of 'home' and 'current', but they were very clear in labeling it 'shared commonalities of those living internationally mobile lifestyle.'

      1. A clarification: I shouldn't say that Stephens' definition conflicts with Pollock & Van Reken's, but that the emphasis on 'legality' differs considerably. Pollock & Van Reken understood that legality/passport may not have much meaning in the equation. Rather, they focused on the main culture(s) that the TCK had been exposed to - either their initial country in which they lived and/or the culture(s) of the parent(s) that they may have been significantly exposed to. Thanks

    2. Thanks Linda for your comment and the clarification. I know there has been a lot of confusion about the term. Even wikipedia had a wrong definition of the term for some time. See my own confession about the term: After reading your comment maybe I need to read up on the term third culture kids again. One thing I know for sure is that what ever the definition I am/ was one too....

    3. I was there--making faces at her--while Libby filmed this. :)

      I like her spin on the definition. I use my spin on it often when talking to monoculturals. It seems to make sense to them. A culture that legally claims you; one that you claim (affinity); and the third culture--no geography, but many defining characteristics. That's the short version.