Third Culture Kids

I got that term from an expat homeschool group I belong to.  It refers to kids who’ve traveled/lived overseas most of their lives.  I wonder if my kids will end up like this.  Global citizens with no ‘home’ culture.  They are biracial Americans, living in Egypt.  They are familiar with three languages and somewhat fluent in two of them.  Dd loves America.  Our last day there, she was singing ‘good-bye America’, ‘good-bye clean streets’.  My son refers to America as a ‘kafir’ country, but he doesn’t necessarily favor Egypt.  My youngest hasn’t really expressed a preference as far as I can see.  But our experiences have certainly changed them.  They never saw poor people in America.  I mean REALLY poor, dirty clothes, homeless, type poor.  Here it’s in your face.  They are unfamiliar with typical American names.  My dd pronounces Barbara=Ba-bear-ra.  Once my youngest was reading a book, and she kept referring to a character as Tris.  I told her to let me see it.  It was Chris.  I corrected her, but she insisted on saying Tris, cause ‘Chris doesn’t sound nice.’  They don’t understand American slang (no big lost there), and sometimes copy the British venacular (thanks to being friends with a British family). 

A former friend of my husband’s claimed that they will grow up as outcasts.  Both for being raised outside of America and outside of public schools.  They won’t know how to deal with race.  I certainly don’t want them to be outcasts, but not sure what it means to ‘fit in’ to American society.  Could be a good or bad thing, depending on how you are defining it.  I don’t want them fitting in with a lot of what I’ve seen in the blogging community, both from muslims and non.       

I don’t think term is necessarily suitable to the children of immigrants to America.  America has a way of swallowing foreigners, and by the second or third general, they are completely American.  At least in my experience. 

Egypt was not our first stop and I don’t know if it well be our last.  A return to the US is entirely possible.  Inshallah I hope they will be suitably prepared spiritually and educationally for whatever realities they face.   

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3 Responses

  1. Subhanallah, I was just thinking of this today. we just came back from a Hindi Eid Party. My children are close friends with two of the children and the visit each others home several times a week. However, everytime they have gatherings with other Hindis they completely ignore my children. Same with the Saudis. we rarely see other AA but when they are around them they don’t really fit in anything. The best times they have are with Saudi-American kids and the ones their age are boys! I get so sad for my oldest daughter who is effected the most. She wants so bad to just fit in.

  2. I actually was thinking more of when they are adults. It doesn’t bother me as much now, their family should really be their ‘center’. But as far as being ignored, they had some of same problems. Most of our friends we indo-pak, but we also knew a few half arab/white american couples (there were hardly any Afro-American muslim families in NW Chicago burbs). It seems like they were kind of the sore thumb. I don’t know if it was cause these families had more in common culturally, or cause they saw each other more. Allahu alim.

  3. mashaAllah..what a good post..can totally relate and i wonder how my kids will deal in living in a culture that is not mine nor their fathers(egyptian upbringing)..and going back to where they started their life and all of my life..the US..hoping and praying to Allah they just end up as decent muslims and take the good that support islam from all cultures they encounter.

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