#TCKchat: What is it and How to Get Involved

pic161-detailThis article first appeared in the March 2015 issue of Among Worlds. Minor corrections have been made to reflect the most updated information (dates/times, twitter accounts) and hyperlinks have been added.


In this issue of Among Worlds, we begin a regular column called #TCKchat. Freelance writer and #TCKchat co-host Dounia Bertuccelli provides an introduction to #TCKchat, where to find more information and how to get involved.

When it comes to Third Culture Kids (TCKs), it is complex to find a one-size-fits-all answer. Despite sharing certain similarities, each TCK experience is unique and deserves to be heard. In this day and age of technology and social media, it is easier than ever to share thoughts and ideas with a global audience. Connecting with people across the world in an instant is something many of us do on a daily basis. For TCKs, this can mean keeping touch with family and friends, but also with other TCKs, with whom they feel understood and accepted. Adult TCKs Amanda Bate and Ellen Mahoney understood the importance of those connections and created a space where they could be nurtured and developed: #TCKchat.

What is #TCKchat and Why Was it Developed?

The Third Culture Kid Chat (#TCKchat) is a twitter chat focused on topics related to the experiences of Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and adult TCKs (ATCKs). It is a public discussion forum, providing insight and information to help support current and future generations of TCKs.

As adult TCKs who started their own businesses catered towards supporting TCKs during crucial transition periods, Amanda and Ellen have both the personal and professional experience to lead such a project. They both work with young adult and college age TCKs through their organizations Bate Consulting and Sea Change Mentoring.

“We both started businesses with TCKs in mind, because it was a reflection of support we wished we had when we were younger,” says Amanda. It was this same mindset that led to the creation of #TCKchat. For Ellen and Amanda, #TCKchat was a natural next step to create a wider network and community of support for TCKs of all ages. Amanda explains:

“We use Twitter to discuss anything and everything related to the TCK experience. Our goal is to build a community where we share information, encourage and challenge one another.”

Participants are of different generations and backgrounds (personal and professional) and are located across every continent except South America. The nine co-hosts are also from around the world and are currently living in Turkey, U.S.A (various states), Australia and Zimbabwe.

#TCKchat also aims to provide information, tips and insight to adults who work with or are raising TCKs. It can be a difficult experience to understand if you haven’t lived it, but “our discussions can be a tool for those who work with them [TCKs],” Amanda hopes.

How to Get Involved

Anyone can participate in #TCKchat, as long as they have a Twitter account. There are no restrictions of any kind, and no obligation to answer the questions presented. There is, however, an unspoken understanding that all involved will be respectful.

A Few Tips to Help You Get Started:

  • #TCKchat occurs on the first and third Wednesday/Thursday of each month with 2 sessions: 1st session at GMT 15:00 and 2nd session at GMT +1 3:00.
  • To make participation easier, use applications like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. You can find a video on how to install/use these on the #TCKchat website, and the co-hosts are always happy to provide further assistance.
  • Use #TCKchat in each tweet so everyone in the chat can see/read your tweets.
  • All questions will be available on the website the Sunday before the chat, but they will also be tweeted out at intervals during the chat.

Past Topics and Chat Highlights

If you do not have a twitter account but would still like to read what was shared, the #TCKchat team has you covered: highlights of each chat are posted the following day and those are available to everyone.

Check Out the Highlights of These Past Discussions:

There are a lot of insightful, touching and humorous comments made in every chat, but unfortunately it would be difficult to share highlights from all of them in one article. For this first column, I have included some tweets from topics that align with this issue’s theme of Dating and Relationships. 

How being a TCK influenced their dating relationships:

  • @TweetingAuthor I’m driven by cultural difference, so naturally, I date those that show signs of being culturally unique in their community. #TCKchat
  • @TCKPonders It’s made me very aware of timing, and when there’s a big move on the horizon I’m very reluctant to get involved. #TCKchat
  • @evnicolas No dating in my teens, too many moves. I was tired, self-conscious, displaced. Focused mainly on schooling. Disassociated. #TCKchat
  • @evnicolas Began to date in London where I could settle, find roots and attach to location. #TCKchat
  • @tayorockson It was difficult for me to meet the family members of girlfriends too soon because I just wasn’t sure how long I would stay in the city. #TCKchat
  • @bateconsult I wrongly presumed that there has to be miscommunication w/ a non TCK. Communication isn’t guaranteed with a TCK either. #TCKchat
  • @TweetingAuthor There’s a reason so many TCKs become writers. We always anticipate miscommunication, so we learn to do it the best. #TCKchat

Benefits/challenges of cross-cultural relationships or dating non-TCKs:

  • @seachangementor Benefit with a non [TCK]: My spouse has been like an ambassador 2 the US 4 me. Learned a lot about this country I’m supposedly from. 🙂 #TCKchat
  • @NeehaMujeeb Learning what it is like to have grown up in one place your whole life. A whole new perspective! #TCKchat
  • @seachangementor Dating someone of a different culture helps me empathize and understand the people of that culture. #TCKchat
  • @danautanu Challenge: Them not getting why I’m not grounded and why it’s hard. #TCKchat
  • @mariacelina Family life. This is where I’m reminded of the fact that even though the man I date is a TCK, his relatives may or may not be. #TCKchat
  • @TCKmeghali Definitely racism. People also sometimes took for granted where my home or roots were, or my family background/traditions. #TCKchat
  • @juanjohn Dating language was in Spanish, not English, so the words I used were different. #TCKchat

Settling down, change and mobility in relationships:

  • @TweetingAuthor The concept of settling down is terrifying. From marriage to children, the idea that moving could stop scares me to death. #TCKchat
  • @bateconsult I’ve bought a house. I still took me FOUR years to admit that I now have a “home”. #TCKchat
  • @TayoRockson I find myself thinking that when I do [settle down] I might not be able to fully express myself or be as mobile as I want to be. #TCKchat
  • @dp_saxon I hope to “settle down” with someone who’s open to thoughtful and regular change. #TCKchat
  • @danautanu The older I get the more I’m tired of starting over. And want the warmth of stability. #TCKchat
  • @unsettledtck Our biggest problem is trust: him that I won’t bail and me that he will respect my travel and autonomy. #TCKchat
  • @DipKidAmber I think I have an unreasonable expectation for people to handle change as easily as I do. Working on that… #TCKchat

Advice on managing a cross-cultural relationship:

  • @bateconsult Shut up and listen. Be observant. Have patience. #TCKchat
  • @livingquestions Remember to cut yourself some slack. Staying open & learning about each other is hard work! Allowed to be tired sometimes! #TCKchat
  • @Sekhmet_12th Best advice I can give is to take the time to LISTEN, it is literally about being able to understand each other, to compromise. #TCKchat
  • @DouniaB_TCK Willingness to listen & learn. Open, honest, constant communication. Patience & understanding with differences. #TCKchat
  • @juanjohn Be patient and open-minded. #TCKchat
  • @danautanu Realize that communicating across difference includes TCKs trying to understand non-TCKs. #TCKchat
  • @livingquestions Laughter is huge! Be willing to laugh about miscommunications/mistakes. #TCKchat
  • @mariacelina Be patient and understanding with yourself and your partner. Always communicate. Avoid generalizations. Love. Love a lot. #TCKchat

#TCKchat is steadily growing and we’re always happy to welcome new participants. The hope is that it will continue to reach TCKs across the globe and provide a welcoming environment for thoughts on this transient lifestyle and its impacts. #TCKchat is a community where you are understood, accepted and embraced.

When I asked Amanda for her latest thoughts on #TCKchat, she concluded with this:

“At this point in the game, I’m probably most proud of seeing how friendships and networks have formed as a result of #TCKchat getting people talking to each other. It’s exciting to see the affirming that happens. That your experiences, good or bad (or both!) are valid. That you get a seat at the table. That you aren’t weird. And even if you are, we accept you, regardless.”

Upcoming Dates and Topics

Additional Information

#TCKchat is held on the first and third Wednesday/Thursday of each month with 2 sessions: 1st session at GMT 15:00 and 2nd session at GMT +1 3:00. To figure out when #TCKchat happens in your time zone, visit www.TimeandDate.com On the website, you will find upcoming chat dates and topics, highlights from past topics, a video showing you how to get involved/participate in #TCKchat and information on all of the co-hosts.

Website: www.bateconsult.com/category/tck-chat/

Co-hosts: First Session

Co-hosts: Second Session

Alien Citizen: Laughter, Tears and Finding the Right Words

The Families in Global Transition conference held many surprises for me. I was surprised at how kind and generous everyone was. I was also surprised how we all truly connected to each other and how we all wanted to share our stories. As much as I hoped to find that sense of community, family and home, I didn’t expect it to be so present and strong.

What truly caught me off guard, however, was the intensity of my emotions at the conference. And nothing embodied that more clearly than Elizabeth Liang’s show – Alien Citizen, An Earth Odyssey. Her honest performance left us all spellbound from beginning to end. In a way, it was my story, our stories that she was playing up there. We all struggled at times to find the right words; we all felt a connection to people weaving in and out of our lives; we all remember feeling lost, alone and afraid. But we also remember the beautiful moments too – so we laughed with understanding as we recalled our own stories. And we also cried with very deep understanding as we felt those same emotions well up inside of us.

At least I know I did.

And I did not expect that.

I had heard wonderful things about Lisa’s show and I was really looking forward to seeing it, but I didn’t think it would impact me the way it did. I didn’t know it would reach deep into the core of my being and strike such a chord in my heart.

Lisa’s performance hit even closer to home for me because I’ve lived in Central America: I spent three and a half years of my childhood in Mexico. I not only understood the Spanish, but also the cultural aspects…As well as the orange Fanta – although that was my sister’s favorite, not mine. I also understood the Arabic since I’m of Lebanese origin. And I definitely understood Connecticut, because that’s where I’m living now and it’s been a tough adjustment.

I’m sure many others connected with different parts of her stories, recognizing their own experiences in her words. We all know that moving from country to country is not an easy thing to do. Saying goodbye, leaving a home and starting somewhere new is not a fairytale adventure. I didn’t realize just how honest Lisa had made her show – I had expected the laughter, but not the tears. And truth be told, they were as welcome as the laughter. Sometimes we’re so focused on only thinking of the positive that we forget to grieve. But Lisa reminded us that we have to give ourselves permission to feel our pain in order to really see our experiences and appreciate them.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the words to express those feelings. Lisa found solace in acting and I know I found solace in writing. Somehow we found the words, in our own way. Now I just need to find the right words to do justice to her performance.

But maybe our silence and glistening eyes at the end of her show said it all.