Embracing Liminal Identity : Uncovering Hidden Diversity : Celebrating Cultural Mobility

In the 21st century, assessing someone’s background from outward appearance isn’t enough — hidden diversity means people increasingly bring more to the table than meets the eye. Whether through travel, nationality, race or ethnicity, many of us straddle culture in one way or another.

CULTURS global multicultural magazine intends to celebrate the unique perspectives of such people.  Global Nomads, Third Culture Kids, and racially-blended and culturally-blended people can read lifestyle articles and research from their point of view.  One that shows a new-world order — a new normal that affects not only our lives, but the lives of those around us.

What is cultural mobility?

The hidden diversity created by people who don’t or didn’t grow up in a homogenous cultural environment.  Culturally mobile individuals may straddle nationalities, ethnicities, race or culture.  The fluidity created, allows understanding between or among these foundational areas, but also may hinder sense of belonging to any one area.

Culturally mobile individuals spend significant time during key developmental years in one or more cultures that are different from his or her nationality (passport culture), which provides an innate ability to navigate all cultures to which the individual has been exposed.  Such experience affords increased understanding and empathy for other cultures.

 

HOW DO YOU DEFINE CULTURE?

cul·ture

—  noun \ˈkəl-chər\ : the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time

—  : a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.

—  : a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)

—  An expatriate

(Sometimes shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of the person’s upbringing. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (“out of”) and patria (“country, fatherland”).

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What characterizes a 21st Century Citizen?

—  Hidden Diversity, which involves a more complex

  • manner of thinking because of the layering of their cultural experiences
  • Each additional layer,
    • or sub-culture adds dimension to that person’s world,
    • Gives broader scope to their skills
    • Multiplies understanding and empathy
    • Creates ability to connect with many
    • The more layers, the more complex his or her world.

—  WHAT’S THE IMPORTANCE OF IDENTITY?

Identity

—  Normal, everyday life can beat at an individual’s livelihood or outward appearance, but if that same person has a deep rooted set of morals, values and beliefs—a strong identity–it’s much tougher to make that person waiver from the tenets that make him or her an individual. Roots have the power give individuals the foundation to move forth in life with a confident, knowing outlook.  The deeper the roots, the greater the potential poise, sense of self-assurance and direction with which we can face the world. Greater the fortitude with which we can tackle obstacles that come our way.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TCK POPULATIONS?

Global Nomads

—  Defined by Norma McCaig

—  Child who moves overseas because of parents’ career(s).

  • —  “Where are you from?”
  • —  Often a very simple question for most people, yet the hardest for a global nomad. Norma McCaig revealed a secret world of ”cultural chameleons” who travel the world, connect with others and understand foreign cultures better than most.

—  International Nomads (Travelers)

  • —  Immigrants
  •   Children of Refugees
  • —  Internationally nomadic group not characterized by a parent’s occupation.
  • —  People displaced from their homeland forcibly or by choice, often have fled for political or religious regions.
  • —   For whatever reason, they typically do not return home.
  • —  Children of Immigrants – People who, for a number of reasons, immigrate to a country different than their homeland.

— Third Culture Kids  (TCKs)

  • —  1950s, a term coined by Sociologist Ruth Useem
  • —  a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture.
  • —  Often builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any.
  • —  May integrate elements, but sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background
  • —  Compared to their peers who have lived their entire lives in a single culture, TCKs have a globalized culture

—  Military Brats

  • —  Children of military
  • —  Move with parents to different places (countries, states)
  • —    Often experience other cultures within the confines of a military installation or compound possessing some traits of the home country.
  • —  Non-military foreign service
  • —  Non-military government TCKs are the most likely to have extended experiences in foreign countries for extended periods. 44% have lived in at least four countries. 44% will also have spent at least 10 years outside of their passport country. Their involvement with locals and others from their passport country depends on the role of the parent. Some may grow up moving from country to country in the diplomatic corps (see Foreign Service Brat) while others may live their lives near military bases.

—  Missionary Kids

  • Typically spend the most time overseas, of any TCKs, in one country. 85 percent of MKs spend more than 10 years in foreign countries and 72 percent lived in only one foreign country. Of all TCKs, MKs generally have the most interaction with the local populace and the least interaction with people from their passport country. They are also the most likely of the TCKs to integrate themselves into the local culture. 83 percent of missionary kids have at least one parent with an advanced degree. Missionary kids struggle adjusting to the host culture; the majority of MKs identify mostly with the country in which their parents served.

—Diplomat Kids

Children whose parents are members of the home country’s political framework.  Often exposed to a higher standard of living afforded through benefits of a parent’s work—like chauffeured cars, or housekeepers—many times these children do not realize these are not perks of the everyday American.

 

—  International Business Kids— children with parents whose work takes them to far-away lands. Similar to diplomatic kids, they often are exposed to an out of the norm, standard of living, and typically attend International schools where they interact with other kids with similar experiences.

— Business families (otherwise known as oil or construction brats) also spend a great deal of time in foreign countries. 63 percent of business TCKs have lived in foreign countries at least 10 years but are more likely than Missionary Kids to live in multiple countries. Business TCKs will have a fairly high interaction with their host nationals and with others from their passport country. Many of these “business” families are from oil companies, particularly in the Arab world and in Latin America. Parents who work in the pharmaceutical business typically move to countries such as Switzerland, Singapore, India, China, Japan, or USA. The Brookfield Global Relocation Trend survey in 2012 reports that “family concerns” are still the number one reason for early returns during expatriate assignments.

 

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Kikokushijo (— Japan’s TCKs )

—  In Japan, the use of the term “third culture kids” to refer to children returned from living overseas is not universally accepted; they are typically referred to both in Japanese and in English as kikokushijo, literally “returnee children”, a term which has different implications. Public awareness of kikokushijo is much more widespread in Japan than awareness of TCKs in the United States, and government reports as early as 1966 recognized the need for the school system to adapt to them. However, views of kikokushijo have not always been positive; in the 1970s, especially, they were characterized in media reports and even by their own parents as “educational orphans” in need of “rescue” to reduce their foreignness and successfully reintegrate them into Japanese society.

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—  National Nomads

—  Children, or adults who as children, moved to various regions within the same country, often having to re-learn their ways of being.

—  Though they remain in the same nation, often Parents do not consider that it is difficult for children to form their identities under changing conditions.

—  Regional differences in dress, speech and action, are heightened in formative years when it is important to be accepted.

—  Moving to another state, town, and in some instances, even across town, can create major differences in the world of a child’s developing psyche.

 

—  Intra-national Travelers

—  Those who travel extensively and/or live in various places in the same country after the age of 18

—  Borderlanders – A term coined by Van Reken,  a borderlander is a citizen of one country that lives close to another.  Often the norms, customs and traits of each culture seeps into the other—creating a cultural experience separate from either original culture, while allowing inhabitants keen knowledge and insight to their own culture, as well as the other.

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BLENDED POPULATIONS

—  Multi-Racial

—  People whose family consists of two or more races to which the individual identifies.

—  With race often come cultural norms, slang language and attitudes that can greatly differ.

—  Many multi-racial children have the unique opportunity to learn the norms of all the cultures they comprise; however some do not have this opportunity and still may have to deal with some of the issues akin to a certain culture.

—  For example, because one is typically more easily identified if he or she belongs to an ethnicity with darker skin, a child may have to deal with prejudices or even expectations attributed to that racial makeup.

—  Though a child may not have had interaction with that culture, he or she, by visual assessment alone, is expected navigate that culture’s world.

 

—  Multi-ethnic; Multi-Cultural

—  People whose family consists of two or more cultures to which the individual identifies.

—  For example, Mom is Korean, while dad is Vietnamese.

—  The child may be viewed as Asian, but within his own home, there are distinct differences, thoughts, ideas and values that must be understood and navigated in order to interact with his or her family members—especially those in the extended family.

—  Inter-Cultural

—  A child, or adult who as a child, lived within another culture or sub-culture in their homeland.  

—  Inter-culturals cannot always understand fully the experience of another culture or race of people, because, due to outward appearance

—  However they can and often do live within the other culture, and can relate to struggles and issues that culture experiences.  The inter-cultural subculture is a good example of how race does not necessarily affect culture.