Questions Third Culture Kids and Their Parents Love

by Rachel Pieh Jones on September 17, 2020

The last post in this series was a set of questions Third Culture Kids have a hard time answering. Today is a set of questions that might be a little easier for them to address. And next month I’ll have a post about parents and TCKs to encourage us to ask better questions ourselves. How can we serve, love, and express interest in others?

Also, I want to be super transparent. I have absorbed so much from people here at A Life Overseas. If some of these questions are something you have said or suggested, thank you and I don’t mean to copy you, I’ve learned from you. One great post is by Taylor Murray, from which I definitely borrowed.

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You find yourself in the hallway with a family recently returned from Bangladesh or Korea or Brazil. You don’t have a lot of time, but want to engage with the kids. What can you ask?

Some quick questions:

What is your favorite movie/song/book? Doesn’t have to be about their life abroad! We are all so much more than where we physically live.

What is the strangest thing that has happened to you in your host country? And then laugh with them or gasp with them, even if you don’t quite understand. 

Is there a special sound or smell you miss most about China/Peru/New Zealand…?

What time do you get up in the morning and what do you do first? What is a school day like for you?

What is your favorite place to take visitors to in your host country?

What is your best holiday tradition?

Tell me about your best friend there or your pet or your favorite teacher.

How do you decorate your bedroom?

In other words, questions that let a kid be a kid, that value the place they came from and the people they love there, and that give you a potential connection point – like oh I love that book, too! Or, my first grade teacher was just the best, too. Or, I know a kid in your grade who also has an alligator eat their pet monkey (okay, maybe not, but there is surely a way to connect someone with a common interest of say, soccer).

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And deeper questions, maybe if you are a close friend or a family friend, or are mentoring or have longer time to talk, maybe over dinner with an older TCK or on a long car ride:

If you could change one thing about your TCK life, what would it be and why? If you could give one part of your TCK life to someone else (because you love it so much), what would it be and why?

What aspects of your host culture do you find yourself doing no matter where you are, or if you change something how do you adjust it? 

Do you notice yourself shifting between cultures? What does that feel like in your physical body or mannerisms?

What excites you about being back in your passport country? Or, what do you feel nervous about? What are you looking forward to? Or dreading?

What can I do to help you right now? Or in the future?

What else would you add?

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About 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: https://amzn.to/2P3BWiK Get all her stories and updates in the Stories from the Horn newsletter http://www.djiboutijones.com/contact/

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