Third Culture Kids (A Global Perspective) 🌍

How does where we come from shape how we see ourselves?

On this episode I talk to Third Culture Kids (TCKs) from across continents about the extent to which being connected to various cultures shapes our self identity. We speak candidly about how the current political, social and economic climate of our home and host countries and how this has influenced how we see the world.

 Untitled [A young girl speaking on her parents’ telephone in South London], 1973. Photograph: Neil Kenlock/Victoria and Albert Museum

Untitled [A young girl speaking on her parents’ telephone in South London], 1973. Photograph: Neil Kenlock/Victoria and Albert Museum

I'm tired of being called a Oyinbo!

For many of us TCKs who speak passionately about our motherland, we are frequently met with a resistance and questioning of our authenticity when we go back home. The word in my language is Mzungu, in Nigerian it’s Oyinbo and in Chinese it’s Jook Sing – these words mean or are used to refer to white people or non-white people that might as well be white.

“Jook Sing, that’s the term that people use to describe people who don’t know the culture or speak the language. It’s very offensive actually, but you get used to it over time, and in that culture’s perspective, they are not trying to be mean, they are just stating a fact” – Jessica

“When you’ve gone out of your way to not identify yourself as British, it can be a little annoying as, your own people unravel this identity you’ve tried so hard to construct” -Louisa

“I can identify with coming back home and thinking ‘yeah, I’m back at home with my people’ and they’re like ‘eerr, no you’re not, you don’t speak the language. It’s a bit destabilising and I think have to craft an identity of what it means to be a Nigerian, who does not live in Nigeria or speak any of the local languages. Is there a space to articulate that? What makes a Nigerian a Nigerian anyways?’” – Julian

'Good’ Immigrants in a post 9/11 world

In Europe, and I shall speak on behalf of the UK, there is a latent racism that’s been boiling and risen to the surface. So many people have confused legitimate concerns about the bureaucracy of staying in the EU, with vibrant, blatant and unapologetic racism. It doesn’t help that the media has ever so neatly wrapped all of this up and packed under the facade of inconvenient immigration. It’s problematic to say the least.

“They say to me ‘oh you’ll be fine, you’re one of the good ones’, and then I have to ask ‘so you think there are some Europeans that are better than others?’” Karen

“The signifiers of racism has always been black and brown people. Those signifiers are still there, but now one of the underlying causes is Europe, which is full of White people. So now people are saying ‘we don’t want to be in Europe anymore, and you brown people leave too’ – it doesn’t make any sense” Julian

This episode was recorded in London, and whilst we had a great mix of guests, I would love to hear what other TCKs are experiencing in other countries and within different cultures., so please, tweet or email me with your story. Whether you’re a TCK too or someone who loves to learn and understand different cultures, I hope you found this episode as funny, interesting, and as thought-provoking as I did.

Louisa OlafuyiComment