"I have been a queer mixture of the East and West, out of place everywhere, at home nowhere...I cannot be of the West. But in my own country, also, sometimes, I have an exile's feeling."
1st Prime Minister of India
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I can't be Japanese and I can't be Western- but I understand both. I am double-binded, but- and this is perhaps most important- I am also in a position that generates a great deal of energy and creativity."
creator of "schizophrenic eclectic" architecture
TCK/MK grief is sneaky. It creeps in on tiny cat's feet as the stamps in the passport pile up. It finds its way in between the African sunset and the family reunion in Chicago. It is grief that is very often the flip side of incredibly rich and varied experiences. For many TCKs it only begins to really make itself known in the early to mid thirties while for others it has been a companion since childhood. For the vast majority of globally nomadic people grief must be reckoned with. There are several reasons why this particular variety of grief can be difficult to spot and mitigate:
- losses are experienced during developmental years- when loss is experienced during childhood and very young adulthood it is processed very differently than in adulthood. It can be buried much more deeply and can be difficult to access and understand.
- losses are multiple and simultaneous- much MK loss occurs repeatedly and all at the same time. For example, with one plane ride an entire culture and community of friends is lost along with smells, foods, flora and fauna and language.
- losses are hidden- and often experienced as the flip side of wonderful experiences, who wouldn't want to visit all of the extended family in four states and then fly back to Bangkok via Manila?? It is difficult to grieve when no one else appears to be and when you can't put your finger on what exactly it is that you have lost. For example, hidden losses of TCKs could include: a loss of status in their host or passport country, loss of an entire lifestyle, loss of culturally appropriate role models and mentors, loss of a past that wasn't, loss of a system identity such as a mission org or the military, repeated loss of control over environment.
- TCK loss has the potential to be unacknowledged and unresolved- when losses are hidden it is difficult to name them. Missionary kids especially can feel that they are unable to give voice to their hurts
because often their grief is compared to a higher good and discounted as a part of the "call" on their lives. This may be true (or not) but it is not comforting to a child's heart.
-TCK loss is often experienced alone. All grief can be isolating but the combination of loss occurring in developmental years and as part of a family system that brings benefits as well as pain means that very often the TCK opts to experience his/her pain alone. Due to the isolation of the family unit the TCK has very few options to seek out for comfort. If the family is not functioning well the child grieves alone.
Monday, May 19, 2008
" If mission agencies are to recruit MKs into adult missionary service they need to begin with the current generation of MKs; these who are yet children need to be the focus of mobilization personnel. If we invest in the lives of these ones who are still in the process of understanding the character of God and of choosing an autonomous identity , we have the greatest opportunity of mobilizing an army of missionaries in the next generation who are well equipped for the ongoing mandate of the Great Commission."
Dr Rosalea Cameron
International Journal of Frontier Missions
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
"Once I knew a charm to bring a snail out of its shell, but it was in a language I no longer know in a country I shall never live in again...There was an unalterable otherness that comes from being raised in a very different time and place, perhaps one that has made me a perpetual traveler..I shall always know that the bridge of my nose is too high."
Betsy-raised in China
TCKs often have a fascinating backstory that never seems relevant in their passport country. They have a context that has shaped them that is completely hidden from the world that they have re-entered and are currently navigating. This issue is addressed in the book Hidden Immigrants- Legacies of Growing Up Abroad by Linda Bell. In it a TCK describes what it is like to access her hidden context after many years:
"...I hadn't been in Africa for many, many years- not since Zaire in 1975...So I thought, how much of this is left from my childhood?...Is there anything that is really in me, or was it just an experience? We touched down in Nairobi and I was right back home in five seconds..the closeness of the atmosphere, the humidity, the hibiscus- everything was just screaming. " You're home, you're home!"...then..out on safari, and all of a sudden this stuff I didn't know I knew started coming out of my mouth which I didn't know I knew about these animals, about their habits and about how rock hyraxes are the closest relative to the elephant. Everybody looked at me like, "You're out of your mind"..It was all stuff I had learned from being on safaris before in East Africa and just stuff I accumulated; information that had been totally useless to me all the rest of my life and had never come out of hiding...So there are all these compartmentalized bits of knowledge that I never use in this country- and never have the right clues to open the floodgates and tap into that stuff. Yet under the right circumstances, obviously, it's right there."