Monday, 28 November 2011

Third culture kids: learning their mother tongue.

As I was on twitter tonight I realised that the tweets I was sending were mainly about language learning. So I thought that's what my blog post will be on today too. As you know I am an (adult) third culture kid. Born and raised in Africa but with Dutch blood. There are many advantages of growing up abroad but one of mine is that I was raised bilingually. We spoke Dutch at home and English at school. It was very tempting to mix English words into our "home" language but my parents had clear rules on that one. Especially when we as kids were quarreling we had a tendency to switch to English.

Now I am living in a Dutch environment but to this day I enjoy speaking English with by brothers and sister. We don't do it all the time but is feels so "comfortable". Even on the telephone we just switch from one language to the other.

It's good to have a family language plan. A language expert writes about it: Family Language Planning - A Tool For Success.

So what was my parents' plan? I'm not sure but here are a few things we did:

  • Wrote Dutch letters to our family
  • Sang Dutch children's songs, especially on long trips in the car! My mum knew lots of songs and loves singing. Songs like "Hansje Pansje Kevertje die klom eens op een hek..."
  • Carried kilograms of children's books in our suitcases when returning back to Africa. This was in the time before you could order books through the internet.
  • Were members of the children's library in Harare, Zimbabwe (that was 366 kilometres from Bulawayo where we lived).
  • Had Dutch lessons during the holidays. As kids that was terrible, but now I am terribly grateful!
  • Read many Dutch children's books.

I just want to encourage parents raising multilingual children. Please don't give up. I know it takes effort but know that in the long run your children will be grateful. Recently I have spoken to third culture kids who cannot speak their mother tongue well and they really regret it. A good site for information on this topic is Multilingual Living. Read this good advice on their website: 10 things you should NEVER say to your bilingual child.

Here's some food for thought on this topic:
  1. Make language learning fun.
  2. Don't listen to people who think that speaking the native language at home should be stopped.
  3. Be patient. Being patient is the key for your child to build confidence in a second language.
  4. Find material that helps with the language learning (like DVDs, computer games, books, CDs).
Want to read more? Bilingualism and growing up abroad.

Do you have thoughts on this topic? Parents do you have advice for other parents? Third culture kids do you have something to add? Please share your comments. (Photo thanks to Griet, Morgue file).

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Third culture kids and exciting new things!

Art: someone did something new....spotted in Holland
There are some things that I really enjoy doing and one of those things is: "doing something new!" The past 6 months has been full of new things. I will just name a few:
  1. Started this blog: DrieCulturen
  2. Made a twitter account. You can follow me @DrieCulturen
  3. Tweeted more than a thousand tweets.
  4. Discovered that there are actually people who want to follow me.
  5. Planted potatoes in our own garden for the first time in my life.
  6. Harvested and ate my homegrown potatoes. That was so exciting!
  7. Made strawberry jam from homegrown strawberries for the first time in my life.
Some time ago I wrote a Dutch blog post on this same topic. The post is called "Nieuwe dingen doen". In my post about the disadvantages of growing up in another culture I mentioned that "restlessness" is one of the disadvantages of having had lots of change during childhood. As a result of the restless I want change or new things. Some third culture kids say they want to move house every 2 years. They feel an "itch", they just have to move. A long time ago I decided that I want to grow some roots where I am living now, so I will not move but just stay here even when I feel the "itch". Life is all about making choices!

Now to tell you about the most exciting new thing. I have recently been asked to write a guest post for Expat Explorer. The great news is that today my post has been published on their blog. So I want to invite you all to hop over to their blog and read "Where are you from?" It's a real honour to have been asked to write about third culture kids for their blog. Thank you!

I have been writing on this blog for just over 5 months now. Just for fun I will list a couple of my favourite blog posts on my blog. By the way I really enjoy writing on this blog.
Have you done anything new recently? Do you have an urge to do new things? How do you handle the "itch" (the extreme desire to keep moving)? I would love some new comments on the blog so please few free and let me know what you are thinking. Thanks.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

My heritage of growing up overseas. Part 2: a heart for the children of this world

Today, the 20th of November it's Universal Children's Day. This day is internationally known as the international day for children. So that's what I will to write about today. You probably know that I grew up in Africa and now live in the Netherlands. Recently I wrote about My Heritage of growing up overseas part 1: Respect for malaria. Today I will write about my heart for the children of the world. As a child I say parents in Malawi who had to walk for more than an hour to get health drinking water for their children. I saw children begging on the streets, holes in their clothes. I saw children who could not go to school because there was no money to pay school fees. I saw rich kids too but the children in need made a lasting impression on me. Somethings in life you just don't forget!

The 20th of November marks the day on which the United Nations general Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989 (now 22 years ago).

What are children's rights?
  1. All children have the same rights. All children have the right to life through the provision of basic needs - water, food, shelter and health care.
  2. Adults have to think what is best for the children when they decide about things. All children should be safeguarded against all forms of abuse, neglect and exploitation, and are entitled to live in a safe and caring environment.
  3. All children have the right to live and develop. All children should be able to grow to their full potential through quality education, leisure and play.
  4. All children have the right to say what they think and be respected.
Just a little more history: in 1953 the United Nations general Assembly proclaimed that Universal Children's Day would take place annually on the 20th of November. The problem is that in 1925 the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland proclaimed June 1 to be International Children's Day.  So now Children's day is celebrated on different dates around the world.

To  celebrate Universal Children's Day young people from across the globe created the video project "We will change everything". This creative collaboration shows the power of the web, as the filmmakers have not met most kids, yet the children managed to create a song about their hopes and dreams. The video clip was shown during TEDxYouthDay 2010 in 60 different cities and it invites you to contribute too! Watch and enjoy it.

Today there is a Tedx Youthday in Amsterdam. Children and young people are able to express there ideas. They have a right to say what they think and be respected!
Here is a short film about the millennium goals of the UN. Unicef (the United Nations Children fund) lets us know that 6 of 8 goals are related to children's welfare. The target date is 2015. So there is a short time to go. The goals which affect children are the following 6:
  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Less children are hungry.
  2. Achieve universal primary education. All children have primary school education.
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women.
  4. Reduce child mortality, so less children die.
  5. Improve maternal health. Healthier and happier mothers.
  6. Combat Hiv/Aids, malaria and other diseases. Less parents get sick, healthier families.

Let's hope this world will become a better place for our children to grow up in. What are your thoughts on this subject? Have you seen children that have left a lasting impression on you?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Great Third Culture kid information on the Web

Every now and then I post twitter updates but recently I realized that not everyone is on twitter. I wasn't until a couple of months ago. In this post I wrote about my first adventures on twitter. You can follow me on twitter @DrieCulturen. Just today I read that the number of active twitter accounts in the Netherlands increased by 60% in the last 10 months. Well that's all for now about twitter, because I decided to give you links to good third culture kid information on the web. If you are a third culture kid looking for information or a parent raising children internationally do have a look at these sites.
  1. Libby Stephens wrote a great blog post on her favorite third culture kid resources. Libby Stephens is a cross- cultural transition consultant and she has worked with TCKs for more that 25 years. 
  2. Denizen online Magazine it's dedicated to TCKs. Interesting information: like an infographic about third culture kids.
  3. Educating Global Nomads a blog by Rebecca Grappo, a Certified Educational Planner. She is also mother of 3 grown expat children. On her blog you will find information about education, international schools, special needs and more.
  4. Multilingual Living is a place where parents raising children in more than one language and culture can find inspiration, tools, advice, wisdom and support! Worth a visit.
  5. In Culture Parent is a website for parents raising little global citizens. There's lots of different information there.
  6. MummyinProvence Ameena Falchetto is third culture kid and an expat living in France. She has lovely posts on her site about the Global Differences in Baby-making. Nice photos and advice from mothers who have been there before.
  7. Julia Simens she is author of the book "Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child", educator and consultant. She has a blog and here are her "Mustreads".
  8. Raising My TCKs it is an online community with personal stories about parenting third culture kids.
I hope you find what you are looking for. If you know of good sites, please let me know. If you need information about third culture kids but you can not find it, please let me know. Maybe I can help.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Children of the world. Where are your roots?

While searching on the internet I came across this nice film. I like it because it is about third culture kids in the Netherlands. I hope you enjoy watching "Children of Roots 2: Eindhoven Trailer".

This film has been made by Ritti Soncco. She is a writer, performer and filmmaker. She is an (adult) third culture kid. She was born in Peru, spent her childhood in Nigeria and she currently lives in Southern Germany. The film has been made in coloration with the International School in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.  

"The potato Ochoa continues the search for his roots... On his travels around the world, he meets the students of the International School of Eindhoven.

12 international students and 2 international teachers tell him their stories... Where is home? What does it mean to be "international"? If we grow up among many cultures, where do we have our roots?"

If you want to enjoy it to the full you should really watch Ritti Sonocco her earlier film called "Children of Roots Trailer". This is what part 1 is about:  

"The little potato Ochoa awakes one day in a German potato field. Confused about being so far away from home, he explores the city of Ulm, where he befriends three South American women and asks them how they live in a foreign country without forgetting their roots and culture. He then decides to return to Peru to seek out the home he once knew and ask his fellow Peruvians if they would ever consider emigrating from their country.

A puppet-documentary on the nature of home, integration and cultural heritage. Dedicated to the potato scientist, Dr Carlos Ochoa."

I love the creativity of third culture kids. Thank you Ritti Sonocco for your lovely documentaries!

Do you want to watch more films about third culture kids? Have you seen Aga Madolen's "Les Passagers"? It's really worth watching. Have you found your roots? Are you searching for them? Do you have advice for others in search of their roots?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Veelkleurig Nederland

Wist je dat Nederland nog nooit zo veelkleurig geweest is als nu. Dat hoorde ik in Het Klokhuis op donderdag 10 november 2011. Er leven in Nederland ongeveer 190 verschillende nationaliteiten naast en door elkaar heen. De klokhuispresentatoren Dolores en Mustafa leggen samen met hun ouders uit hoe Nederland zo veelkleurig geworden is. De ouders van Dolores zijn uit Suriname gekomen en de ouders van Mustafa destijds uit Marokko. Het is een leuke uitzending om te bekijken.

Kijk hier naar: Het Klokhuis, uitzending Veelkleurig Nederland

by J.Durham Morguefile
In 2007 was Amsterdam de meest multiculturele stad ter wereld. Of het nu nog steeds zo is kan ik niet goed terugvinden maar volgens mij is het wel zo.

De top 3 multiculturele steden van de wereld zijn:
  1. Amsterdam met 178 nationaliteiten in één stad in 2010
  2. Antwerpen, België met 164 nationaliteiten in 2007
  3. New York, U.S.A. met 150 nationaliteiten in 2007
De meest voorkomende "vreemde" nationaliteiten in Amsterdam zijn:
  1. Marokkaans
  2. Turks
  3. Brits
  4. Duits
  5. Surinaams
Wat voor talen worden er in Nederland gesproken? Het Nederlands en het Fries zijn de officiële talen van Nederland. In de 4 grote steden van de Randstad worden er, naast het Nederlands, 110 talen gesproken.

De top 5 talen in de steden in Nederland zijn:
  1. Turks
  2. Hindi
  3. Arabisch
  4. Engels
  5. Berber
Waarom schrijf ik eigenlijk over de veelkleurigheid van Nederland? Op deze blog gaat het veel over third culture kids (TCKs), het gaat over kinderen die opgroeien in andere culturen maar hier in Nederland hebben wij die andere culturen om ons heen. Wat een rijkdom! Wat bijzonder dat er zo veel talen gesproken worden in dit kleine landje. Wat bijzonder dat onze hoofdstad de meest multiculturele stad is ter wereld. Volgens mij moeten third culture kids of global nomads zich wel thuis voelen in Nederland met zo veel diversiteit aan mensen en culturen om ons heen. Mocht je het niet zien, zoek het op en je komt het tegen. Ik ga een volgende keer over cross cultural kids (CCKs) schrijven. Dat zijn bijvoorbeeld kinderen van immigranten, asielzoekers, kinderen die ouders hebben van twee verschillende culturen. Heel boeiend.

Het leuke van third culture kids (zoals ik ben), wij zijn niet bang van de veelklerigheid van Nederland. Wij zijn gewend om mensen van verschillende nationaliteiten om ons heen te hebben. Ik geniet ervan.

Ook worstelen wij als TCKs met soortgelijke zaken als immigranten. Dit gedicht genoemd "Gevangen tussen twee culturen" sprak mij erg aan. Hier ook een gedicht van een Nederlandse TCK "Wortels".

Hoe kijk jij als third culture kid naar de veelkleurigheid van Nederland? Wat vind jij ervan?

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

My 10 disadvantages of growing up in another culture

Photo by Anita Patterson Morgue file
The last post was My 10 advantages of growing up in another culture. This week it is about the disadvantages of growing up in another culture. I do think the advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages but the are real challenges when you grow up cross-culturally and when you relocate as a child many times, like my family did when I was growing up. In this blog post you can read how many times I moved as a child. Here are my tips when moving with kids.

So here are my 10 disadvantages:
  1. Having had to move often.
  2. Saying "good-bye" many times. I remember my parents used to tell friends and family that they preferred everyone to say "hello" to us and welcome us back to Holland at Schiphol international airport than that they would wave us goodbye. Maybe they found saying "good-bye" difficult too?
  3. Being far away from family and friends. I found this great blog post by Libby Stephens Grandparenting over the seas. Some good advice, worth reading. I grew in the age before email and skype. Communicating is a lot easier these days.
  4. Not knowing where "home" is.
  5. Not knowing the geography of my passport country. I never had geography of the Netherlands. When I had geography in Zimbabwe it was mainly "African" geography.
  6. Not knowing certain popular TV shows, songs etc.
  7. Having a kind of restlessness. I need new challenges and changes. I even find it difficult spend time at home during a holiday period.
  8. Preferring not to change my email address or telephone number if it is not absolutely necessary. In this I prefer to keep the same email address for ever if possible.Making it easier to stay in contact with old acquaintances?
  9. I have some language difficulty (with Dutch), I attended international and local schools, this was all in English. We had some extra Dutch lessons but I don't feel very confident in writing Dutch.
  10. Not knowing all the Dutch sayings.
On the internet I came across The 10 Lifestyle habits of third culture kids. It gives insight into the life lived by third culture kids and the kind of baggage you are left with as a result of you experiences.

"Every parting is a form of death, as every reunion is a type of heaven."  ~Tryon Edwards

I don't think the list of disadvantages is complete but for now it is fine like this. What disadvantages do you experience or did you experience?

Related posts:

Thursday, 3 November 2011

My 10 advantages of growing up in another culture.

Photo from Morguefile by Hotblack
This week I read a post written by Expat with kids. The post is about The 4 attributes of third culture kids. These attributes can make third culture kids global citizens of this world. The post is my inspiration for this week. Thanks.

So here are my 10 advantages of growing up abroad, of being a third culture kid.

If you are a third culture kid, you have probably developed:
  1. Cross-cultural skills, I enjoy meeting people from other cultures.
  2. Observational skills
  3. Social skills, being good at making friends "quick".
  4. Linguistic skills, you speak more than one language.
  5. Adaptability, like a chameleon. Don't adapt too much. Read my blog on "Third Culture kids learning to be themselves."
  6. A broad world view, thinking "outside of the box"
  7. The capability of mentoring others because life experiences have been so varied.
  8. The skill of being less judgemental.
  9. The ability to being independent and autonomous.
  10. More maturity than others of your age.
You know why we have developed the observational skills? When we were put in a new situation we had to "check out" the new situation. We had to quickly analyze what was going on around us. What should I say? How should I do things. I kept my ears and eyes open to see what was happening around me. I do think you are in a state of alertness when entering into a new situation, a new school, a new culture. I know what it is like to feel the "odd one out", because I have been the "odd one out" many times. I still quickly sense that somebody feels uneasy in a social situation. This has to do with my own experience.

If you want to read more on this topic I would really encourage you to read the book: "Third Culture Kids, The Experience of Growing up Among Worlds" by David Pollock and Ruth van Reken.

Do you want to read more about the advantages and disadvantages of being a TCK in this document.
Here you can read my Dutch post De 10 voordelen van het opgroeien in het buitenland.
Deze hoort er natuurlijk ook bij: De 10 nadelen van het opgroeien in het buitenland.

Read: My 10 disadvantages of growing up in another culture too.

Are you a third culture kid and would you like to add something to this list? What do you think of these advantages? Parents of third culture kids what are your thoughts on this topic?