I’m a third culture kid. We feel a little differently. We may be immigrants. We may be military brats. We may be international students. And we’ve got the global nomad in our veins from our cross-cultural upbringings to carry us on to a new future. We are the cultural bridge. The fill-in-the-gaps. We are the spaces in between that will help create a new world.
We may not always fit in. In our worst of days, we may feel like the constant outcast. Others may look at us with pity and laugh because of our foreign status, in our own country, and laugh because of our foreign status, in our other country. We don’t know how to answer “where are you from?”
“Where is home?”
We are other.
We might check “other” on those job applications.
But just because we are the spaces in between does not mean we are empty, and nothing. Null, void.
No, we are culture shifters.
The world is shrinking.
We are becoming more and more globalized in a globalized world.
Our leaders, and future leaders, will navigate this drift as cultural ambassadors, and global citizens. Third culture kids are at the forefront to navigating these cultural shifts. We are the future.
We travel from one country to the next. We work internationally. We work abroad. We start a life from one country to the next.
We work online.
We are social entrepreneurs. Digital entrepreneurs. Nomads. Creatives. And we are changemakers.
The modern day third culture kid, the globalized citizen, will change the world.
Our multiculturalism, part in parcel with our multipassionate interests and multidimensional personalities are what makes us leaders spearheading this new cultural creative.
In our empowered days, we know this. We work towards social responsibility. We work towards a unified, collective vision; we are all neighbors, and we are all one. There’s no boundaries here.
Our international relations help improve world affairs. We start from the inside out. From the grassroots. We are strength in numbers. Mobilized, we are a force to be reckoned with.
Growing up, I was always the token Asian chick. I didn’t live in California where Asians hang out in groups. I lived in Portland, Oregon ‘burbs, where I could count the handful of Filipinos that went to my school, and they were all related, besides me.
There is something about my nose. I don’t have the usual Filipino nose. Most Filipino’s have a hard time guessing what I am. I’m from Thailand. Or Indonesia. Or Korea. Or China. Hell, I’m 1/8 Chinese so maybe my nose is the Chinese part. Though, I’ve never been to China, only Taiwan, which is close enough.
I don’t usually like talking identity. It’s not because I’m ashamed of who I am. Or maybe it is.
I just don’t like talking origins.
I don’t like making it into an issue. I don’t think of myself as a minority. But sometimes, there were times growing up when I absolutely hated my identity. You go through it. It’s part of the game.
You hate where you came from. And then you love and embrace it. You come back.
It’s all the same.
Two sides of the same coin.
Love and hate.
Starting a life in Manila has been tough. I’m not from here. I’m originally from Cebu, a different island. I didn’t know there was such inter-cultural conflict between Cebuanos and the people in Manila. A language clash. Some history. Some grudges. I don’t know the whole story. It’s probably too stupid to get into detail. The intricacies of the divide… This is not how a third culture kid thinks.
I don’t care about us vs. them. I care because we’re all one.
I’m white. I’m Asian. I’m black.
I’m brown. I’m yellow.
Starting a life abroad? It takes guts, man, but you can do it. There are plenty of international job opportunities, English teaching programs, and online ways to do business. If you’re willing to think outside the box, the solution might even be more economical than living in the
repression recession where people shout about health insurance and the fiscal cliff.
In SE Asia, you can live well with $15,000 a year or less. You can become a perpetual nomad and traveler and sustain the lifestyle with just $30,000 a year, or even less.
Chiang Mai are where the cool kids are.
There’s start-up cultures and expat culture. But really, there’s culture everywhere.
I have felt disempowered for far too long. I’m a minority.
Now it’s time to own up to my greatness.
Third culture kids may be misguided. We may live life off the maps. But we are just bubbling under the surface with power. Do we accept the responsibility?
The Dalai Lama recently said
The world will be saved by the Western women.
I believe he is right but I also believe the third culture kid is a part of this.
We as women, and as third culture creatives live in the in betweens. We are in between the politicians and the uber rich 1%. We are in between the third world where extreme poverty exists and where people still struggle to survive.
It’s not just about middle-class.
While people in the third world still struggle to get by, living paycheck to paycheck or day to day for their basic needs, we as the in-betweens have the power to change the chaos into beauty. We are like the caterpillar helping the transformation into a butterfly. Collectively, we activate new cells to form a new system. We think differently. In with the new and out with the old. We know what doesn’t work and we’re ready for change.
We transform and allow others to transform with us.
Don’t ever undermine the power of the Western women, or the third culture kid.
We gracefully cross east and west like the international dateline were just another neighborhood.
See you on the other side.
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