Quote from,

Third Culture Kids- The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds
David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken*

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I recently attended a F.O.C.U.S. (Fellowship of Christian University Students)and the speaker spoke on a really interesting topic for me -belonging. He spoke of how he "knew" no one wanted to "belong" to someone because it suggested being the property of something and then went into further detail on how the sense of belonging to someone can actually turn people off etc etc... But for me, what he was saying just didn't apply.

I love belonging. I love having my people around me, knowing who I am in them, with them and being part of the collective so to speak. I love hearing the words, "you belong to me" because to me, it's not a suggestion of property, to me it's an aspect of identity. Tying this aspect of identity into what the speaker was saying (about how "we all like our freedom and individuality"), I've found that a lot of my identity, comes not from who I am as an individual, but who I am within the body of Christ. Don't get me wrong, I love my freedom -but I also know my boundaries, and am beginning to find my place in "the big scheme of things".

For me, growing up in the islands I was surrounded by my village family, or by my church family or by those who simply cared and looked out for me as if I was family. I always had people teaching me, growing me in the customs of their culture; I was constantly asking questions about the boundaries regarding girls and our place in society, I was surrounded by people who were open to sharing their language and custom stories with me -I was in a place where I was accepted and made a part of the family there. I belonged with them. When I'd go out of my house, I knew that I had my people looking out for me. It was safe. I was safe. And when I began to familiarise myself a bit more with the culture, I began returning the favours. For so long it seemed, I had been babied. My "family" had had to grow me in their ways for a long time before I finally began to understand the way of things. But once that understanding began to develop, I found myself enabled to the point where I give back into the culture that had already given so much to me. When I was out with my "sisters", they no longer needed to constantly correct me and with my younger "sisters" I found that I was able to help guide them and teach them the ways of our culture. However, when I came to America, I found a very different culture awaited me.

Attempting integration into the culture here was and has been and has continued to be, a very difficult task and time for me. I don't have a family of people to help guide me in the socially accepted and the socially unfavourable rituals and standards. I don't have a community I feel I can call myself "one of". I've noticed people here are so independent and so loving of their freedom that it's come to a point where it's almost "too extreme". Instead of having a village to which and whom you can be held accountable to, you are an individual striving to break away from the "bondages" of family ties. Aspects such as responsibility have such a different meaning here, that at times, it doesn't even feel like the same thing. While I can recognise the human drive for individuality and freedom from the social constraints of ones community or family, I can also see an underlying (and in this western society/culture -suppressed) need to belong. Maybe it's this suppressed need that drives young teens into early and destructive relationships. Maybe it's this internal battle between wanting freedom and wanting to belong that births so much of the identity crisis that teens and young adults go through. Now, I'm not saying that the islanders don't go through their own struggles, in terms of identity, but I am thinking that maybe...maybe belonging to someone carries a greater impact that what many westerners care to realise.

There's so much I have to say on this topic.....all of it based on personal experience. But I won't keep rambling. I've taken up enough of your time as it is.

Just a clock.