Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Missionary Kid (MK) → Third Culture Kid (TCK)

And that’s how to label me in academic writings. My “kind” used to be called MKs (missionary kids), but intellectual types apparently deemed that label to be an inadequate handle on the complex human beings that we become, so we are now lumped together with a broader category of ex-pat children and called TCKs (third-culture kids). For TCKs, home is a cultural outpost of their parents’ country(-ies) of origin, whereas daily life outside the home takes place within the local culture of the country they reside in. The resulting mishmash and blending of the two cultural experiences, combined with the quality of being a foreign body/object in the host country, results in our existing in a third culture of our very own. TCKs respond to destiny in different ways, but for the most part we celebrate our differences by trying to out do one another in a “more-adventurous-than-thou” sort of way. This competitive spirit burst forth again in my breast the other day when one of my South African buddies with whom I shared the TCK experience in Japan sent me a mini-video (you'll need Quicktime to view this) from his new home in upstate New York. The way this competitiveness works is that he has seen a bear outside his bedroom window, and I haven’t. So I lose. As a good TCK, I now owe it to myself to make sure that I have an even more interesting encounter with one of Shimokita’s bears than Matt had with that New York bear.

This is a photo of Matt, his little brother, and me right after we gave my sister’s mutt a poodle-cut. It was taken at Gaijin-mura, a.k.a. Tak (Takayama Beach Company). Tak is a place in Miyagi-ken where many missionary families have been spending a couple of weeks each summer since about 100 years ago.

My family bought a decaying cabin there for a few thousand bucks, and we’ve been beautifying it ever since. TCK night time activities at Tak in the past included stealing lawnmower fuel from the tool sheds and writing flaming messages on the beach, making huge driftwood fires and then throwing aerosol cans and other explosives into them, crashing beach parties, and waging rocket “hanabi” (fireworks) wars against off duty personnel from the local Japanese Self-Defence Force training centre.

We also had competitions to see who could jump off the highest rung of a ladder using a rope swing (I made it up to the twentieth wrung).

Fortunately, when the rope finally snapped it was just my sister attempting the eighth rung, and a prickly bush stopped her fall. I’m glad it didn’t snap on my turn!

Here are some other interesting sites about TCKs.
From the U.S. Department of State
Parent’s Moving Overseas???
Global Nomads