Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Ruth van Reken speaks on the Impact of Growing up in a Globalized World

Two years ago I had the privilege of meeting and hearing Ruth van Reken speak at the Euro TCK conference in Germany. Ruth van Reken is co-author of the book Third Culture Kids Growing up Among Worlds. You should hear her too.

In this short video Ruth explains what third culture kids are and what cross-cultural kids are, she shares her personal story. She encourages parents who are raising kids cross-culturally to make sure that they know how to prepare their children for their transitions. It's so important to say goodbye appropriately. This TedxINSEAD talk was given in May 2015.

There are challenges for children that grow up cross culturally. The 2 main issues are:

  1. Identity: Who am I? Where do I belong? Where am I from?
  2. Unresolved Grief: this can be a result of all the invisible losses, called "hidden losses". With one plane ride the whole world as the child knew changes. These are the kind of losses there are: 
  • loss of their world
  • loss of status
  • loss of lifestyle
  • loss of possessions (it can be a bicycle, toys, tree houses, pets)
  • loss of role models
  • loss of system identity
  • loss of the past that was/ or wasn't
Parents should not just tell their children how great it will be in the next country, but they should take a minute and say "I understand", it's hard to leave and say goodbye. They should validate the emotions their children feel.

Recently there was an interesting discussion on Goodreads on the topic of unresolved grief. Lois Bushong was the facilitator of the discussion. 

What can we do with the grief? Some people use journalling, music or painting. It can help to talk to a friend about it. Others talk to a therapist. If you need a therapist you could check the International Therapist Directory.

In the talk Ruth poses the following question: How can we help people to use the incredible riches of their childhood? She suggests the following:
  1. Normalize the story
  2. Celebrate the both/ and's (celebrate the positive and acknowledge the challenges)
  3. Identify/mourn the hidden losses
  4. Re-define identity (can we be international?)
  5. Establish portable roots
  6. Recognize marketable gifts (like language, cross-cultural adaptability)
I recently wrote a guest post on MaDonna's blog called Raising TCKs. In it I share my personal story of leaving the African nest, leaving Zimbabwe to go to university in the Netherlands. With one plane ride my whole world changed drastically.

Did you grow up cross-culturally? Did you celebrate the good things and acknowledge the challenges? Please share your story or your advice. I would love to hear from you. 

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