Third Culture Kid Conference
This post is written by Laurie Xin ’19…
What is a Third Culture Kid? Someone who grew up constantly shifting from culture to culture – for a variety of reasons – and as a result, is able to assimilate into almost any environment at ease, and does not consider one place “home”.
I am a Third Culture Kid. I have three names: Laurie (my English name), Esther Cohen (my Hebrew name), and 苑新悦 (which is shown on my passport). These three names tell different parts of my past which all make salient contributions to my identity. Up until two weeks ago, I did not know that I was a Third Culture Kid. Or that there was actually a substantial amount of people who grew up with just as messy of a background as my own, and that they formed an entire organization around it.
Two weeks ago, a group of Babson students entered Clark University to attend the annual TCK Conference. We were all about to find out that the very differences that set us apart from one another, were in fact also the aspects that made us the same. Speakers from all different backgrounds came up to speak. At first glance they’d seem to contribute to only one race, but member after member came up and spelled out four, five different countries of origin, all encapsulated in a single life. It was like witnessing chameleons changing color in different habitats.
The need for connection is what draws us all together. I found it easier to hold quick and meaningful conversations with people at the conference; within an hour, almost everyone at the conference had made a dozen new connections that they added on various international and domestic social media apps. Knowing that a group of people who identify as TCK is sort of comforting. Part of me grew up adapted to feeling alone, and became complacent about not having a place to call “home”. The Babson students who attended found a new community who also identify strongly with the same feelings. In this sense, we found “home” in each other through mutual identification.
Whether or not we attend the conference again next year is not relevant. What is important is that we now know a new term to identify ourselves by. We have also found a new resource to tap into for all the relevant questions that we’ve found the answer to ourselves all this time – such as relevant visa issuances.