In a class I’ve been teaching this fall, we’ve been thinking about Third Culture Kids. Technically, TCKs are those who have spent several of their developmental years living outside their parents’ home culture (TCKs often have parents who are missionaries, in government/military service, or part of an international company’s workforce). Practically, TCKs can wind up at a local college or church ‘back home’ looking like they ought to fit in, but often discovering that they’re round pegs at a beach with snowshoes.
I was in my 40s before I heard the term, and realized, in the hearing, that I was one. Fittingly, this discovery was made while I was traveling with my dad in east Africa. Since then, I’ve bumped into a bunch of TCKs, and learned from many. Despite lots of differences in specifics, TCKs share common experiences (the batch of what’s shared is the ‘third’ culture). It doesn’t take long, for instance, before a Brit who went to school in Johannesburg says to a USAmerican who lived in Argentina, “You, too?”
One of those shared experiences is not being home for the holidays. Typically this happens for at least two reasons: first, because for the TCK, ‘home’ tends to rather elusive; second, because what does constitute ‘home’ (parents, friends) is often far away and hard to get to. Going home is not a matter of driving (or taking a sleigh) for an hour or two so much as flying internationally and then maybe bouncing another half day over rugged terrain.
So maybe as the holidays approach, it’s worth looking around (at that college, in that church) for a TCK or two who might be at loose ends? Inviting them over for a meal or games or a movie would do a world of good.