One Thing I Want to Tell Third Culture Kids

This week a university student and I connected over Skype to talk about Third Culture Kids. She is one, working on a really cool project about TCKs, and I’m the mom of three. 

We talked about how valuable things like courage, vulnerability, and curiosity are. We talked about the gift that I believe TCKs are to a world that is fearful and divided. Then she referenced my blog post from years ago (back when blogs and lists were like a thing) called 15 Things I Want to Tell My Third Culture Kids, and asked, “What is one thing do you want your kids to know?”

One thing. Just one. I didn’t have to think very long and it something I would have said to my kids whether they were TCKs or not:

You are loved.

You are so loved.

That is who you are.

Third Culture Kid. Expatriate. Immigrant. Refugee. Student. Mother. Father. Child.


Loved by a creative, good, beautiful God. 

Loved by family, the family you grew up in, the family who raised you, the family you share blood with, the family you share history with, the family you have left as you make your own way in the world, the family who will always make room for you.

Loved by a community in which you have always been the minority. The religious, racial, language, nationality minority. And they have loved you, welcomed you, taken delight in you, taught you, fed you, challenged you, inspired you.

Loved by a community you don’t know as well, the one behind in the passport country, the one who listens to updates and asks about your life, school, friends, language lessons, daily routine, the one who prays for you.

You might not quite know where you fit in your new place, or in your old place, or in your future place. That will be hard and painful, probably lonely and scary, hopefully exciting and hopeful.

But you can know this.

You are Loved.

You might not know how to address an envelope in the United States or how to flag a taxi in Beirut. You might not know that the cream-filled cardboard-flavored cake tube thingy is called a Twinkie and that it is a local delicacy and you might not know if you’ll ever get to eat delicious fried liver and onions for breakfast again.

But you can know this.

You are Loved.

You might not know the culture cues or the inside jokes or the “right” sports team to cheer for. You might not know when you’ll go home again or where home will be next year or what home even means.

But you can know this.

You are Loved.

You might not know how to fall asleep without the sounds of the desert winds or the morning parrots or the hum of a rickety ceiling fan. You might not know what time it is without the call to prayer sounding throughout the day.

But you can know this.

You are LOVED.

If you could say just one thing to the TCK in your life, what would it be?

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Rachel Pieh Jones

Rachel writes about life at the crossroads of faith and culture. Her work is influenced by living as a foreigner in the Horn of Africa, raising three Third Culture Kids, and adventurous exploration of the natural world. She has been published in the New York Times, Runners World, the Big Roundtable, and more. Check out her latest book, Stronger than Death: Get all her stories and updates in the Stories from the Horn newsletter

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