A Reassuring Foreignness
From: Childhood Education, Fall 1998 v75 n1 p36(2)
Children on the move: third culture kids. (education of children who live outside of their native country for periods of time) Warna D. Gillies.
Certain disadvantages are associated with being a TCK, as well. Exposed to a
variety of cultural influences, TCKs feel culturally separate from both their
parents and their peers. The TCK may share a sense of membership in multiple
cultures, yet lack ownership of any one culture (Pollock, 1985). Pollock
maintains that this dynamic continues throughout life; the TCK is adrift, with
respect to cultural ownership. Sara Mansfield Taber, who grew up in an
internationally mobile family, reflects on her third culture identity:
Will I ever feel like a legitimate American? I don't know. I am most comfortable
with myself as a foreigner. I might be most at home living part-time in the
United States and the other part in another country. Or perhaps at a spot
mid-way across a sea. I'm not sure. One of these days perhaps I will move to
Nepal. In the meanwhile, I am going along fairly happily, living in Washington.
(McCluskey, 1994, p. 48)
There is an interesting insight here to which I can relate. When you both are and are not American, sometimes it is easier to be a foreigner. That is, when you feel not at home, at times, in what should be 'legitimately' your home, there's an awful paranoia and a disturbing sensation of inauthenticity. You look and sound like an American, right, you must feel like one?
In contrast, when you're abroad and you feel out of place, there is a definable excuse for it, which is fabulously reassuring in a counter-intuitive way.