TCK and Cross Culture Community 2014 Year in Review

The TCK and Cross Culture Community 2014 Year-In-Review By TCKid


In the process of researching and pulling together information for this year in review, I discovered that our voices within the Third Culture Kid (TCK) or global nomad and cross culture community have added more color to the canvas of our identity. The diversity of backgrounds, opinions, concerns, and experiences within the tribe have begun to become more visible or vocal. We have begun to move beyond the standard scripts about matters that continue to be close to our hearts: We have moved into discussing social concerns and human experiences and brought them back into the fold of how we experience them as TCKs or cross cultural individuals.
We have demonstrated that global mobility and cross cultural navigation will always influence how we experience life on some level. However, we also fear, cry about and are vulnerable to, as well as celebrate, enjoy and rejoice at, the same things as individuals who grew up in one town. We bleed, hurt, can be flawed and are mortal as any other human beings. We just have the unshakable context of cultural or geographic mobility. We find our strengths to overcome challenges through the mobility that made us who we are and when we get up to stand, speak out or do something, we change things around us.
We speak, write and create out of being in between worlds, but we also share some experiences with the rest of the world. We navigate community, academia, human services, and private enterprise out of being from nowhere and everywhere, but we have also established a niche securely anchored to our tribe’s deep roots and history.


I hope you enjoy reading through these highlights of first times, milestones and significant events from 2014, which continue the history of our tribe. If a story or event was not mentioned or overlooked, it definitely does not reflect its significance for the tribe. I wish to thank all who took the time to contribute their stories and Erin Sinogba for her assistance. Many of the stories, discovered in the research for this article, were very eye-opening for me and I hope you will find them valuable as well.


Thank you all for being you and making our tribe look simply human, beautiful, powerful.

-Myra Dumapias


In January, Actress and writer Elizabeth Liang‘s show, Alien Citizen: an earth odyssey, a play about being “from everywhere and nowhere,” starts to make its rounds at colleges, starting with California State University – Los Angeles, followed by Princeton and M.I.T. in February and Wesleyan, Williams and other colleges the rest of the year. Liang also starts touring internationally in Iceland and Panama and keynotes for Families in Global Transition (FIGT) in March. Aside from the global nomad identity, Liang also addresses mixed race topics in the show, which she performs at the Critical Mixed Race Studies conference at DePaul University in Chicago in November. According to Liang,


Something about the learned role of the outsider seems to strike a chord, even in people who I would not expect to relate to that. This has been a joyous and humbling discovery and a reminder of lessons I learned while growing up as a TCK: we all have more in common than we know. My dream is to take the show to festivals and international schools worldwide.

Liang has appeared in television shows, “The West Wing”, “Law and Order: Los Angeles”, “Frasier”, “Felicity”, and other TV shows and movies.



Photo Credits: Ardi Kuhn, Source: Jakarta Globe

In February, Jakarta Globe reports on the effects of the thick ash that covered Yogyakarta after Mt Elud’s eruption in east Java and features the photo of Ardi Kuhn, a TCK who was once one of TCKid’s local group leaders. Kuhn is a sound and visual artistweb developer and works as a teacher in Java.


Babble, a Disney sponsored family-centered online lifestyle magazine, publishes an article written by TCK Rachel Pieh Jones in February on, The Conversation We’re Not Having: Sexual Harassment and Third Culture Kids. In the article, Jones confronts how expat adults and teens experience sexual harassment and discusses the importance of taking about the problem. Jones points out, “While sexual harassment is always awful, shaming, and wrong, experiencing it as a foreigner carries the added dimension of isolation and uncertainty and experiencing it as a foreign kid is especially traumatic.”

Jones herself has experienced sexual harassment herself as an expat. In her September 2013 Djibouti Jones blog article, Jones states, I listen to the stories of the women around me. And I say, me too. That happened to me too. I tell my story, I don’t hide it because it is embarrassing, because my reaction wasn’t what I wish it were. I hear the women around me say, me too. And say, I’m sorry. And say, I’m angry with you, for you. I believe we are the walking wounded. Yes, we are wounded, but yes, we are walking forward, out the front door.

Jones’ TCK and expat related work also appears in other publications, such as Christianity Today, and the New York Times.



Heidi Tunberg, a TCK who works with TCKs and loves collecting resources and information about the Third Culture experience starts creating TCK-themed boards on Pinterest around February. “I discovered Pinterest was a perfect place to organize my collections to make them accessible to others…. I created 17 TCK-themed boards spotlighting books by and for TCKs, TCK-themed movies and videos, articles & blog posts, famous TCKs, fun items, quotes and memes for TCKs, and more.” Tunberg welcomes suggestions for any material to add to her TCK-themed Pinterest boards.


Tofugu, a “wonky Japanese language and culture blog” which published The Kikokushijo Dilemma: , by TCK Shoko, in late November last year, addresses Japan’s internationalization in a February article by Austin. Tofugu touches on other topics TCKs can relate to throughout the year, such as the April article on mixed-race or “half” Japanese by Mami and a July article on experiences of being different from the identity associated with ones physical features, in More Than Gaijin: Specific Ethnic Groups Living in Japan, by Laguna Levine. Another article that TCKs may find interesting, which discusses hidden populations and explores the concept of whether a certain psycho-social phenomenon is culture-specific to Japan, is All About Hikikomori: Japan’s Missing Million by Kaitlin Stainbrook.



In March, Doni Luckutt, launches CULTURS: The Global Multicultural Magazine, a new online publication featuring culturally-blended and culturally mobile people, including TCKs. Founder and publisher of CULTURS, Luckutt is a culturally- and racially-blended global nomad and military brat and former Denver Post columnist, media personality and lifestyle expert. CULTURS is the first stage towards the launch of the Institute of Global Culture Research proposed to be housed in the Journalism Department of Colorado State University in 2016. Several TCKs and global nomads contribute as regular columnists (partial list).


The Australian Network of Student Anthropologists features researcher Danau Tanu in March, about her work with TCK’s, such as her study, TCK’s Unpacking ‘Third Culture Kids’: the Transnational Lives of Young People at an International School in Postcolonial Indonesia. TCK Tanu, a 2014 FIGT Scholar, completed her PhD in Anthropology and Asian studies at the University of Western Australia on mobility and international education in Indonesia. Tanu also presents in July at the Asian Studies Association of Australia 2014 conference at University of Western Australia, Perth on “Becoming ‘international’: the cultural (re)production of elites and campus dynamics at an international school in Indonesia.” Danau’s other work can be viewed on her University of Western Australia profile, including publication Engaging Indonesia’s Youth (December, 2014), article “Are international school students Indonesian enough?” (July, 2014).


Journalist Joyce Man launches her blog Criss-Cross Culture, a “home for cross-cultural questions big and small for citizens of the world from Asia”, live from the FIGT conference in March. Man, another 2014 FIGT scholar and a German Chancellor Fellow, addresses topics from a Russian TV show host who spouts out racist statements about ‘Narrow-Eyed Mongoloids’ to a film about Korean TCKs by Juliet Yi, which was nominated for best film at the 2014 iPhone Film Festival. Here is “Finding Home”, filmed entirely on an iPhone:.


In April, news about a suspected child molester shakes the community of TCK’s and expats. TCKs in social media rapidly share a press release issued by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asking the public for assistance in finding more information about the suspected “international child predator,” who worked as international school teacher who worked in nine different countries, including “Nicaragua, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Iran, Spain, and Lebanon.” According to the FBI, which worked with the “Department of State-Diplomatic Security Service and other national and international law enforcement partners” on the investigation, William James Vahey “used sleeping pills to drug his victims, but investigators (wanted) to learn more about his methods and what drugs he may have used.”


In separate incidents involving the Jakarta International School, outsourced school employees are arrested in April after investigations about multiple cases of reported incidents of repeated gang rape of a kindergarten student. After the initial investigation, other families begin to report incidents that happened to their own children allegedly involving faculty and administration. Two faculty members on trial, including one Canadian citizen, claim innocence, along with supportive family members and fellow faculty, and criticize the justice system of Indonesia as being corrupt.



Celebrating the Legacy of David C. Pollock

Interaction International and Ruth Van Reken write powerful tributes on the 10th anniversary of
David C. Pollock’s death, April 11, 2004. 
Interaction International’s commemoration of Pollock’s legacy provide an opportunity for members of the community to share their words on Facebook. Ruth Van Reken’s tribute, “A Man Ahead of His Time” is shared on TCKid’s news page as a guest post. Upon finding a message about the passing of Pollock within the message from John 12:24 about how a kernel of wheat can become a seed he produces many seeds, Ruth relates, “I saw then that there were countless people all over the world in whose lives Dave had planted many seeds. Even though the one who had led and mentored so many of us was soon to be gone, all those seeds now scattered globally would take root and grow in new places. The topic had become too big for anyone person to carry alone. We all had to do our part.”


TCKid launches its new program in April, Research Bridge: Linking Globally Cross-Cultural Researchers and the Public. This new program aims to 1) cultivate the relationships between globally cross-cultural researchers and the public, 2) facilitate the increase of data, statistics and information about the TCK, Cross Cultural Kid (CCK), global nomad and expat population, and 3) foster the public’s access to research and information about thesepopulations. TCKid’s first Research Bridge scholarship beneficiary is Katia Mace, whose study was successful. Please stay tuned for more updates on the Research Bridge program.


Summertime Publishing, run by Jo Parfitt since 1997, publishes three books in 2014, starting with Valerie Besanceney‘s at Home: Emma Moves Again in April, Douglas W. Ota‘s Safe Passage in October, and Christopher O’shaughnessy‘s Arrivals, Departures and the Adventures In-Between in December. In November, The Worlds Within: An anthology of TCK art and writing – young, global and between cultures, edited by Jo Parfitt and Eva Laszlo-Herbert, is released in November. The anthology features artwork and writing about the experiences of young TCKs worldwide.



Lill Salole of Kyrsscultur (“Cross culture” in Norweigan), “For de som lever der kulturer krysses,” publishes the second edition of Cross-Cultural Kids: Belonging, Acknowledgement, Dilemmas and Resources in Norwegian in April. The first edition was published in 2013.


Paris and Beirut based author and publisher Nasri Atallah launches Gate37 in April. At the time of launching, Gate37 describes itself as “a publishing house for people who find the question ‘Where are you from?’ hard to answer. It’s a place to belong for those who don’t belong anywhere. We’re looking for writers who are Third Culture Kids, fraught with the thoughts that come with a cross-cultural background.”


In May, Paula Vexlir, a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with the Spanish-speaking expat communitylaunches her blog ExpatPsi to generate resources, articles and psychology available in Spanish for expats, TCKs, ATCKs and those who serve TCKs. ExpatPsi discusses various topics that affect TCK’s, such as grief, expat parenting, expat partners, and other topics. Vexlir also created a project to end the year that involve expats sharing what they have learned (with some interviews in Spanish and some in English) named “Compartiendo Saberes”. Visit the fanpage for updates, such as the parenting workshop coming up on 2015 to help parents ease their children’s transitions.


Daraja, currently based in Muskegon, Michigan, organizes its first round table on TCK care with Ruth Van Reken, Heidi Tunberg, Michele Phoenix and Eric Larson in Chicago in May. The organization, created by Michael Pollock, establishes the first annual college TCK fall retreat in Muskegon in October. According to Pollock, Daraja is currently “exploring ways to create networks of TCK mentors and coaches”. Daraja’s mission is to “care for, encourage, and equip emerging cross-cultural leaders through mentoring, training, discipleship, and leadership experiences so that they will engage the world abundantly and responsively for Jesus’ sake.” Daraja offers “Bridge Semesters” for post high-school to 20-something year old TCKs and cross cultural kids.


Catrin Lundstrom’s White Migrations: Gender, Whiteness and Privilege is published by Palgrave MacMillan in May “From a multi-sited ethnography with Swedish migrant women in the US, Singapore and Spain, this book explores the intersections of racial and class privilege and gender vulnerabilities in contemporary feminized migration from or within ‘the West’.” Lundstrom’s book is described as filling a gap “in literature on race and migration, presenting some of the complexities of the current global power relations and the contextual variations that surround these.”


In July, Myra Dumapias launches The Last Boarding Calla resource for TCKs and global nomads on the journeys of aging, retirement, sudden disability or death and dying. Dumapias was a 2014 FIGT scholar who first observed the impact of her comments about this topic at the 2014 FIGT conference. Her blog addresses how certain expats and global nomads, due to economic disparities among expats’ passport countries, are affected by the above life stages. Dumapias illustrates in Expat Aging, Caregiving and Related Journeys: Why Bring Them Up

It is an uncomfortable topic, but a high ranking diplomat, for example, can experience a sudden plummet in his or her socio-economic status if faced with a sudden health crisis around the time of retirement…No matter how much one saves or plans financially, a perfect storm of unexpected events may quickly wipe it all away because a crisis can be just the beginning of a tough road. Suddenly, the whole family and potentially three generations can become drastically impacted…

With a background in and as an educator in the social work profession, and a TCK who spent spent years as a sandwich-generation caregiver of a disabled parent, Dumapias hopes to “help other families prepare and make the most of their time together in this journey where there is no turning back.”


Author Marilyn Gardner publishes her collection Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging in July. Her essays cover different experiences of TCK life, from rootlessness to living in multiple worlds.


Amanda Bates of Bate Consulting and Ellen Mahoney of Sea Change Mentoring launches #TCKchat, a bi-weekly Twitter chat event in July. #TCKchat engages TCKs worldwide in discussions relevant to the community, with topics ranging from identity to college transitions to careers. An overview of previous chats can be found on the TCKchat homepage, such as this archived chat on Jobs and Careers.


In August, MaDonna Maurer, who is married to a TCK and raises three TCKs, publishes an article on The Transition for the Child with Special Needs on her blog Raising TCKs in August. Maurer created her blog to “bring encouragement and maybe some wisdom to anyone who is in the process of raising a TCK.” The blog also has a book review page on TCK-related books, expat living and topics related to living overseas.


Tayo Rockson, speaker, author, podcaster and cross culture expert launches As Told By Nomads in August and UYD Magazinein November. As Told By Nomads, which features interviews with global nomads, Third Culture Kids, entrepreneurs and multicultural individuals who are leaders in business, culture, travel and global affairs, is recognized as number two among Entrepreneur’s Top 25 in Business Podcasts for Entrepreneurs. Rockson also pens his first eBook, The Ultimate Guide to TCK Living and becomes a contributing writer for Huffington Post and Global Living Magazine the same year. Rockson talks about what he finds beautiful about TCKs and other topics in his interview on TCKid Talks.


In September, Olivia Charlet launches TCK Datinga dating platform in London for expats and adult third culture kids. Growing up as a TCK, Charlet “felt there were not enough communities out there for multicultural and diverse individuals” and also “felt that TCKs and expats seem to connect even more with those who have a mixed upbringing.” From January onwards, TCK Dating will be hosting monthly TCK & expat singles events in London and have online group chats every Monday on all kinds of topics, mostly covering travel, culture, relationships, and expat life. Charlet shares, “I hope that this website will help TCKs living in London find each other and find love.”


TCKid Philippines, a local chapter of TCKid,holds its first tckid table talks, a major networking event at co.lab in Pasig City in Metro Manila. The event features speaker Maria Ressa, founder of Rappler, journalist, author, and adult TCK, who shares her experiences and insights as someone who grew up in the Philippines and the U.S. Twenty TCKs and allies attend the event. Future events will be organized quarterly.


Families in Global Transition – Netherlands (FIGT-NL) becomes the newest affiliate of FIGT, co-created by Kate Berger, Kristine Racina and Vivian Chiona in September. FIGT-NL is one of FIGT’s five affiliates, including affiliates in Boston, Korea, Switzerland and the UK. In


In October, mkPLANET releases a one-time podcast of missionary kid (MK) stories. The podcast features three MKs who “tell a story about culture shock from their childhood overseas, ranging from painted warriors to surprising superstitions to becoming a hunter’s prey when an innocent game goes sour.” mkPLANET is a “hub of information for current and former MKs, their families, and MK care professionals.” Dana Friesen is the founder and community manager of mkPLANET, joined by Joel, “administrator and tech guy.”


Diane Lemieux discusses class and white privilege in The Blindness of Expat Privilege in October. Lemieux states,

My point is not to try to define exactly who is or is not an expat, but to call attention to the hierarchy of privilege that exists within the globally mobile community. From refugees, to migrant workers, to immigrants, to knowledge migrants, to expats: the difference lies in the ability of individuals to make choices over how and where they want to live. Often, the people we call expats are those who have the greatest control over their expatriation experience.

Regarding race, Lemieux expresses her concern that certain issues are overlooked because “much of what is written about expatriation is written by white women (like me)…” and points to the example of how obtaining visas is easier for passport holders of European and North American countries.



Hip-hop artist 3ck, aka William officially releases his album, “Eyes of Denial” in October, which he describes as the album that is most influenced by his experiences growing up as a TCK thus far. William, who grew up as a missionary kid, shares about how his TCK experiences influenced his music in a TCKid Talks interview about “Eyes of Denial.”


In December, TCKid Talks gathers together for an interview 2014 FIGT scholars and FIGT board member Michael Pollock, who serves for the first time as the chair of the David C. Pollock Scholarship, created in his father’s namesake. The David C. Pollock Fund, which builds on David Pollock’s legacy, aims to “attract, involve and educate emerging, global-minded, intercultural leaders.” The interview features 2014 FIGT scholars Cate Brubaker, founder of Small Planet Studio, and previously mentioned Danau Tanu, Joyce Man, and Myra Dumapias, who discuss how the scholarship and attending the 2014 FIGT Conference impacted them and their work:



The “Military BRAT” (BRAT) community, as represented in various social media outlets from Amazon to Facebook to Twitter, start to see BRAT-favorable changes as a result of a BRAT-led movement to maintain language used to name their identity growing up in December. TCKid covers details of the story in Refusing to Be Erased, which connects how TCKs sometimes face skepticism about the TCK identity and experience to this BRAT-led movement.


2014 Notable Mentions


TCKid wishes to thank the most supportive (people who supported TCKid through establishing partnerships, collaborated on projects, donated generously or provided moral and other support): Shannon Irby, Simi Serianni, Paolo Cruz, Doni Luckutt, Ruth Van Reken,  Maria Ressa, Colab, Paulette Bethel, Michael Pollock, Annette Floystrup, Dana Friesen, Donna Musil, Bob Holliker, Marc Curtis, Rae Shue Blalack, Gena Wasley, and all the military “BRATS” TCKid had the pleasure of connecting with towards the end of the year. TCKid appreciates all your support and all that you do!


TCKid remembers the lives lost in and loved ones affected by 2014 international flight disasters: Malaysian Airline flight MH370, reported missing en route between Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Beijing on March 8. Malaysian Airline flight MH17, which was shot down and crashed en route from Amsterdam to KL on July 17. Malaysia-based, Indonesia operated AirAsia flight QZ8501, which crashed en route from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore on December 28.


TCKid also remembers other flight fatalities less covered in media, such as TransAsia Airways Flight GE 222, which crashed in Taiwan on July 24, and Air Algerie Flight 5017, en route from Burkina Faso to Algeria, which crashed in Mali also on July 24.


TCKid also takes a pause to remember all loved ones we have lost in 2014 and years earlier, especially those who have been supportive of the work for and by TCKs, Cross Culture Kids and globally mobile families. This year, TCKid CEO Myra Dumapias lost her mother, Evangeline V. Dumapias, an enthusiastic supporter of the work for TCKs and the volunteer work behind TCKid.


TCKid Fanpage mentions:


The most shares of the year from our Facebook (FB) fanpage, at 148 reported shares, 1545 people reported reach: the Alienation of Extraordinary Experiences, based on Harvard study conducted by Gus Cooney, Daniel T. Gilbert and Timothy D. Wilson (2014), shared on October 21.


The post with the most reach from our FB fanpage, at 11,464 people reported reached, with 58 reported shares: TCKid’s article Refusing to Be Erased, shared on December 13.


– Written by Myra Dumapias with contributions from Erin Sinogba


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TCKid is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity and does not advertise for for-profit business purposes. Mention of any entrepreneurs and small businesses in the context of this 2014 Year in Review is for educational purposes and serves to depict TCKs in leadership positions and relationships TCKid has with supporters that contribute to TCKid’s mission.


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