Day one of the Families in Global Transitions conference was as great as I expected it to be! Some of the “rock stars” in the world of working with expat families are here, and it’s wonderful to hear their insights and wisdom.

Yesterday morning I attended a fantastic 3 hour presentation on TCKs and transition to university called, “TCKS Repatriating for University: Confronting the Challenges and Building Communities” by Tina Quick, Darci Nealeigh, and Candy Hart. I will try to briefly summarize it here.

Tina Quick, who just wrote a book on this topic, led the discussion and gave us 4 “Pearls of Wisdom” for TCKS going “home” to the country of their passport for college. It can be a much more difficult transition than anyone expects.

Pearl #!:
TCK Identity Development – TCKS need to be aware of the terms of being a TCK, the general characteristics, and hear the message before they return, even if they don’t take it in right away. Knowing they are a TCK helps them to know why they are different so that a student does not suffer from “Terminal Uniqueness Syndrome”, i.e. why am I so weird and why can’t I fit in?

Pearl #2:
Moving around and this high mobility lifestyle brings about a lot of loss and therefore, unresolved grief. There is a good way to grieve and a bad way to grieve. Her presentation included video clips of interviews with some of the college students she works with, and if you don’t believe this is an issue, then listen to the kids.

Pearl #3:
Understand the 5 stages of transition. They are:
1. Involvement
2. Leaving
3. Transition
4. Entering
5. Reinvolvement

The upshot of this is that if kids know it is going to be hard, that there will be good days and bad days, but that they can come out on the other side, they will be better able to deal with the roller coaster ride.

Pearl #4:
Most TCKS DO have difficulty fitting back in with their peers at first. First there is the dreaded question, “Where are you from?” Secondly, the TCK experiences have been so different that it is difficult for many kids to relate to them. This is not a uniquely American experience – remember, TCKs can be from any nationality, and the experience is universal. When TCKs feel like they can’t fit in with their peers, it’s important for them to find common ground and to meet their peers halfway. Everyone has a story to tell.

The second part of the presentation was led by two college students, Darci and Candy, and they talked about how they organized a TCK organization on their college campus. I was blown away by the poise, maturity, dedication, fabulous ideas, and dedication that these young woman possessed. If only more TCKs could meet for fun, mutual support, and sharing on college campuses – but in the end, it’s probably going to be up to the students themselves to organize and make their needs known.

More to come about this fabulous conference! Next – a summary of the outstanding session I heard led by Ruth Van Reken, who co-authored the seminal book on TCKs with David Pollock, The Third Culture Kid Experience. The new edition of her book is out. “Wow” is all I can say for now!

Stay tuned!

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