Have you ever met someone born in Brazil, who grew up in Scotland, graduated in Montreal and now works in Mumbai? People with a similar background are called third-culture kids – globally mobile youngsters whose life-style rivals that of any adult expat.
Third Culture Kids (TCKs) or Global Nomads are individuals who have spent a significant part of their lifetimes outside their parents' cultures, usually because of their parents' work.
The "Third Culture"
The term "third-culture kids" was coined in the 1960s by US sociologist Dr. Ruth Hill Useem. She first encountered this phenomenon when she researched North American children living in India back in the fifties. Useem used the term "Third Culture Kids" because TCKs integrate aspects of their birth culture (the first culture) and the new culture (the second culture), creating a unique "third culture".
TCK's: great cross-culturalists
Matthew Neigh, associate executive director of Interaction International, says TCKs can become the 21st Century, cross-cultural and internationally mobile workforce. Neigh, a TCK now based in Colorado Springs, says the benefits for children include their development of a three-dimensional view of the world in which media images of different countries carry greater depth.
He says TCKs have a tangible link to such images and a greater sensitivity to the world in which they live. TCKs can also become great cross-culturalists - people who are in more demand than ever before.
"International businesses want people who cannot only survive, but thrive in today's marketplace, regardless of where they are placed," he says. Neigh cites the example of a business executive who is keen to employ more TCKs because their cultural sensitivity gives them advantages when placed in new locations.
But these individuals need to understand who they are, appreciate their heritage and avoid feeling like a victim, he says.