It is a wide known fact that our world has been changing fast in the past 100 years. Predominantly when it comes to globalization. We have seen significant growth in the interdependence of the world’s economies, cultures, and populations, brought about by cross-border trade in goods and services, technology, flows of investment, information and most importantly: people. Countries have built economic partnerships to facilitate these movements over many centuries. The term “globalization” has gained notable popularity after the Cold War in the early 1990s, as these cooperative arrangements shaped modern everyday life.
With it followed the sudden emergence of the word “Third Culture Kids”, or commonly known also simply as “TCK”. However, what is a “TCK”?
The term “TCK” or “Third Culture Kid” itself originated already back in the 1950s, when the sociologists and anthropologists Dr John Useem and Ruth Hill Useem used it to describe the children of American citizens working and living abroad.
In their 1963 work, Useem depicted individuals who have undergone such an experience to be having distinct standards of interpersonal behavior, work-related norms, codes of lifestyle and perspectives, and communication. With this, they would say it created a new cultural group that does not fall neither into their home nor the host culture, but rather showing signs of a shared culture with all other TCKs.
In summarizing that which we had observed in our cross-cultural encounters, we began to use the term "third culture" as a generic term to cover the styles of life created, shared, and learned by persons who are in the process of relating their societies, or sections thereof, to each other. The term "Third Culture Kids" or TCKs was coined to refer to the children who accompany their parents into another society.
- Ruth Hill Useem, TCK World: The Official Home of Third Culture Kids
It is important to note however, that the "third culture" in its definition here is not synonymous with Third World nor with C.P. Snow's Third Culture. Within the frame of “Third Culture Kids”, the term was used solely in an attempt to summarize what was happening in the world at the beginning of major shifts in the relationships among the peoples of the globe in the middle of the 20th century.
In the present 21st century, the terms “TCK”, as well as closely related words such as “Expat” have become very widely and commonly used. More children grow up every day without the notion of boarders or defining cultural traits – the unity of being a citizen of the world seems to be their view on life, whilst also having a sense of rootlessness and restlessness, where home is “everywhere and nowhere.”
It is for this reason undetermined, whether or not this new generation of so called “TCK” will create the yet-to-be-seen beneficial innovations for our world, or they will have to face the harsh reality that the world has once again reverted back to harsh markings and determinations of their own territories instead of unifications.