The article below is by a girl named Cami, whom I have never met. So, why post it? I share it with you because she shares the same sentiments of almost all of the students we work with. Maybe it will give you insight into why our MK retreats, where we gather Third Culture Kids (TCKs) together are so important. Hopefully, it will also help you understand why we think MKs make the best missionaries.
Someone asked me recently how it felt to grow up like I did, you know, moving all the time. I told her I didn’t know quite what she asking. (Actually I didn’t think she would get my answer.) So I turned the question back on her and asked her how it felt to grow up living in one place. She looked at me with a quizzical look on her face and said “normal”. Then I said, “yep, that’s how I felt too…’normal’ ”. She didn’t get it. I don’t think she understands that my life is normal…for me anyway…and for many of my TCK friends too, it’s normal.
So what does “normal” look like anyway? Doesn’t it have to do a lot with context? I mean, isn’t “normal” what the culture says is normal? I’m not a sociologist, psychiatrist or anything like that, but it seems to me that if a culture decides that a certain thing is normal for that culture, then it IS normal. Hmmm…example…hmmm…okay got one: Japan! When you greet someone in Japan the right thing to do is bow. It is the normal thing…the expected thing. In fact, if you were Japanese and you didn’t bow, you’d be in big trouble or, at the very least, be considered rude.
Lately I have been thinking about the good parts of being so mobile. The hard stuff is easier to name, like losing friends, not knowing what place is mine and longing for what I had that is now history. But there are some really great things too. Knowing lots of people in a lot of places, that’s pretty cool. I think I could go to just about any continent on the planet and find someone there I know…except maybe Antarctica. (Guess I will have to work on that one!) Another great thing is having a wide variety of experiences…like who other but people of our culture tell some of the stories we do, even though half the time “monos” think we are making it up (if they only knew…*smiling*). And being mobile helps me fit right into a new place. Drop me off in inner-Mongolia and I’ll observe, pick up the signals and probably adapt pretty quickly – eventhough I have never been there.
In my culture, the Third Culture Kid culture, lots of mobility (could be mine or someone else’s) is normal. Okay, maybe 3 moves in one year looks extreme, but it doesn’t make me less normal than my TCK peers. It only feels abnormal when I am with a group of people who haven’t lived this way. Maybe that’s why I like traveling with Libby so much. She hangs out with people who are my kind of “normal”. 🙂