These are from some of my personal experiences. I’ve been asked so many times by so many different people that it drove me crazy after a while. I’ve also written down the answers I WISH I’d given at that time. Ah well, it’s too late to sue anyone.
In case you’re wondering what a Third Culture Kid is exactly, read ahead. Well a Third Culture Kid (or TCK for short) is a person who has lived his/her most significant developmental years outside his/her home country. So regardless of that person’s citizenship or nationality, if he/she has not grown up in his/her own country, that person qualifies to be a called a TCK. There are ‘domestic TCKs’ too, those who grow up in different cultures within their own country, but they are not traditional TCKs.
So anyway, there are certain assumptions about TCKs because of their ‘differences’. But if you really do know a TCK, make sure you never say these things to them.
1. Why don’t you know how to speak your national language properly? Your parents speak it right?
Pal – I hate to disappoint you, but I didn’t grow up learning my national language. Great that I can still speak it, and can read a bit of it perhaps. But expecting me to be fluent in it is like me expecting you to be fluent in Latin. No can do.
2. What’s up with your accent? Why do you put on such an accent?
I’m not putting on an accent. Putting on an accent is for people who want to pretend they’re something they’re not. What do I have to pretend about? Besides, everyone has an ‘accent’. So what are you talking about?
3. Where did you live abroad? On trees? Do they have houses there?
Nope. We lived in caves. Houses haven’t been built yet and food is scarce. We had to go hunting in the night for wild shrubs. We didn’t hunt animals though – it’s too risky.
4. How did you manage to eat food in that country?
Like everyone else. Get food, open your mouth, stuff in the food, chew, and swallow. End of story.
5. My country is the best country in the world!
Seriously, NO. There is no such thing as the best country in the world. Every country is amazing, and though you’re trying to sound nationalistic, you actually sound xenophobic.
6. Ewwwww, why in the world were you in those countries?
Excuse me? If you have NOTHING intelligent to say, please don’t say it at all. Ewww is a better term to describe your unbelievable ignorance.
7. You don’t look like you’ve lived in so many different countries.
I didn’t know there was a ‘look’ for that as well. Or did you mean that I should carry a banner around to advertise that?
8. You said you lived in…? Never even heard of that country.
That’s why they say you should pay attention in Geography class.
9. You’re a traitor. You left your own country and now why are you back again?
No, actually, you are. You think you’re being all righteous by saying that, but your xenophobia is plain disturbing. Don’t talk like your country is your property and I’m trespassing.
10. You lived abroad so you must be rich.
That’s like saying ‘You eat cake. You must be a millionaire’.
11. You lived in Africa! Do you know how to speak African? Did you have lions in your backyard?
Yeah I lived in Africa. Just for your information, Africa is one HUGE continent, not some tiny island country, and African is NOT a language. There’s Afrikaans, but I’m sure that’s not what you meant. As for lions, yeah, lots of them. We treat them like you treat kittens.