Growing Up Globally – Our TCK’s

22 12 2010

What does it mean to grow up globally, and is TCK a disease I should be worried about.  Actually, TCK refers to a Third Culture Kid, and our family is blessed with three of them.  A TCK is “a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture.”

For most of the past 20 years, our family has lived here in Asia – the first 10 years in Taiwan, and the last 10 here in Hong Kong.  There was no doubt that whether we lived in Taiwan or Hong Kong, we were always seen as foreigners. So each time we prepared to travel back to either Canada or the USA for home assignment we (Joel & Debbie) talked about “going home.”  But when our year of home assignment was completed and we were returning to Asia our kids were “going home.”

Our kids have grown up with different experience from those who have lived primarily in one culture.  If you’re reading this blog, and are wondering if you fit the profile of a TCK, see if any of the following relate to you!

You Know You’re a TCK when …
You have a name in at least two different languages.
You know the geography of the rest of the world, but you don’t know the geography of your own country.
“Where are you from?” has more than one reasonable answer.
You have traveled to more countries than provinces/states in your parent’s country.
You flew before you could walk.
You have a passport, but no driver’s license.
You look for the subtitles when you see the latest movie.
Your life story uses the phrase “Then we went / moved to…” five times.
You dream in a foreign language.
Eating with chop sticks seems natural.
You feel odd being in the ethnic majority.
You enjoy eating dried seaweed, tea eggs and other such items for a snack.
You’d rather never say hello than have to say goodbye.

We’re excited to have two of our adult children for the Christmas holidays. Ryan and Janelle are back in Hong Kong, while Nathan and his wife Jasmine will celebrate Christmas back in the USA.  We know it hasn’t always been easy for our children following us around Asia, but God has been faithful in helping them through a variety of transitions and changes.  We discovered the following poem in the book
Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds”, and our kids tell us it is a good description of how they often feel.

I am a confusion of cultures
uniquely me.
I think this is good
because I can
the traveler, sojourner, foreigner,
the homesickness
that comes.
I think this is also bad
because I cannot
be understood
by the person who has sown and grown in one place.
They know not
the real meaning of homesickness
that hits me
now and then.
Sometimes I despair of
understanding them.
I am
an island
a United Nations.
Who can recognize either in me
but God!?
– ‘Uniquely Me’ by Alex Graham James

We believe that we are uniquely and wonderfully made, and that our Creator God has a purpose for placing us in the times and places we have lived in. Perhaps the experience of living as “foreigners” in this world gives us an appreciation of the privilege it is to belong to God’s family, where our acceptance does not depend on nationality or background.  We are thankful that no matter who we are, or the circumstances under which we have been raised, God understands us, accepts us for who we are, and walks with us no matter where we go.

Until next week,

Joel & Debbie


Music to Our Ears

14 12 2010

Over the past two weeks we have been attending the various Christmas concerts put on by ICS students.  Even though all three of our children have graduated from high school, we have tried to attend as many concerts as we could this year.  Why would we attend five concerts in two weeks?  It’s not just that we enjoy music, but we see this as a way to be an encouragement to all of these students, whether or not they’re in any of Debbie’s classes this year.

After all, there are many elements that go into making a good teacher.  In many ways, teaching is about more than what takes place in the classroom every day.  It is more than just knowing your subject matter.  It’s about helping your students prepare for life.   It’s having a relationship with these students, so that when they have a problem – any problem – they know they can come talk with you.

So we enjoyed both choral and instrumental concerts given by both the high school and middle school students.  Debbie also participated with the High School Choir, as she was part of an instrumental ensemble that accompanied the choir as they sang the Hallelujah Chorus.  At the end of the final middle school concert last Friday night, Debbie was talking with one of her students about their performance, and then asked her if she was going to attend the community band concert on Monday night (Debbie plays her bassoon in that band).  Her student replied, “No … I’m on concert overload!”

How did she know what we were feeling?  Debbie will play in two concerts this week with the community band – by Friday we too will be on concert overload.  Even though it makes for a very busy schedule at the end of the semester, these events give the opportunity to do two things.  Number one – we are celebrating the coming of Jesus our Savior to earth with the gift of music.  What a privilege that is!  Second, it is a chance to be a presence and channel for this message to be presented to the greater Hong Kong community.  This coming Friday (Dec. 17th) we will be one of the featured “street music” groups that will perform in a busy area of Hong Kong Island.

Rejoicing in song this week … but still on concert overload!

Joel & Debbie

It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas?

7 12 2010

In some ways, it’s hard for those of here in Hong Kong to believe that Christmas is a little less than 3 weeks away.  I noticed the following Calvin & Hobbes cartoon in our weekend paper that summarizes our feelings these days!

Growing up in Canada and Michigan, we were accustomed to having cooler weather, maybe even some snow to let us know that Christmas was coming.  And then we moved to Asia.

How do you know that it’s Christmas-time when the weather seems more like a Canadian summer? This past week, the night-time low hovered around 17 C (63 F) here in Hong Kong, while we enjoyed a balmy day-time high of 25 C (77 F). There are advantages to celebrating Christmas with short sleeves and shorts instead of a toque and a parka!

We’re not disappointed with the unseasonably warm weather we’ve enjoyed the past 4-5 weeks, but, how do you get into the “Christmas spirit” when it’s this warm?  Joel misses the snow and Debbie wouldn’t mind having it for a just a few days around Christmas!  But then again, in ways, not having cooler temperatures to remind us that Christmas is near makes us realize that we have to be more intentional about remembering the true meaning of this season.

After all it is Christ who gives the full significance to Christmas, not snow or even any long held traditions. Have a God-blessed Christmas – whether it’s warm or cold, wherever you are this year.

Until next week,

Joel & Debbie