Jasmine Kelly – Being a TCK: a blessing or a curse?
Jasmine, like many TCKs has lived in multiple homes in multiple countries. Her travels and experiences have introduced her to many other TCKs, some of whom see being a TCK as a curse. Jasmine would like to argue otherwise.
Hi, my name is Jasmine Kelly, I’m 17 years old, fresh out of high school and ready to take on the world. Not really sure what I want to do exactly yet so I’ll just say what the 8 year old me wanted to be when she grew up: “a vet in the morning, an artist at night”. I guess the younger version of me thought sleep was for the weak.
“Apparently when someone asks you where you’re from, “I don’t know” isn’t really an answer they were hoping for.”
Apparently when someone asks you where you’re from, “I don’t know” isn’t really an answer they were hoping for. I was born in Chiang Mai, Thailand to an American dad and a “sort-of-Chinese” mom (I’ll explain this later). My parents had been traveling around the world, hopping from country to country every 6 months for about 5 years. While traveling, my mom found out she was pregnant with little me. They decided to go to Chiang Mai, a city they had never been to before, to give birth.
My first language was Thai and I remember telling everyone that I was a local kid and my parents were foreigners, but my pale white skin and curly brown hair at the time proved otherwise.
Since then I moved to Cebu, Penang, Hong Kong and finally Tainan where I am now learning Mandarin at a local University.
When I am questioned, “where is home?”, I think that “home” doesn’t have to be limited to one place. For me, home is both in Hong Kong and Chiang Mai.
My ‘sort-of-Chinese” Mum
Earlier I said my mom is “sort of-Chinese”, let me explain.
My mom was born in Da Nang, Vietnam to Chinese parents. In Vietnam you were either Chinese or Vietnamese. My mom remembers getting caught speaking Vietnamese with her siblings and having to put money in a jar (kind of like a swear jar). When she was 5 years old, her family fled to France due to the Vietnam War. It must have been a challenge for them as none of them spoke French, but they still had to attend local schools. At 8 years old she moved to North Carolina where she then spent her entire high school and college life in Chapel Hill.
Your Mum sounds like a TCK too Jasmine!
No Correct Answer
So when people ask me where I’m from I’m torn! Should I say Thailand, where I was born? Or should I just say I’m American because both my parents spent some of their lives there?
The thing is there are so many answers, and none of them are more correct than the other.
“It won’t be an identity crisis unless you make it one.”
A lot of people view being a Third Culture Kid as being some sort of curse. They feel disadvantaged when they struggle to answer questions on identity. When people instinctively want to question you. But hear this my fellow Third Culture Kids, many people don’t mean to offend you or be intrusive when asking where you’re from, they’re just curious to why you look and act the way you do. So the next time someone asks you where you’re from just say whatever you want, you have so many answers that you can choose from. It won’t be an identity crisis unless you make it one.
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