Clark University is hosting its Fourth Annual Third Culture Kids/ Global Nomad Conference on Saturday, February 27th, 2016. The conference will offer a variety of sessions that will be of interest to anyone who identify themselves as TCKs and their allies as well as faculty, staff, and administrators who work with these students. To attend, please register before Friday, February 12th. The Registration Form can be found here: https://www.clarku.edu/offices/oia/tck/conference.cfm
“Third Culture Kid”. I hadn’t heard of the term before I came to Clark University. When I learned what it is, and that I might be one, it was a strange moment of realization. A realization that the way I grew up – although I knew it was not so special or uncommon because most of my high school classmates were TCKs – had something in common with the stories of so many others. That a deeper look into how I’ve come to identify myself as a TCK could be a starting point to better understand who I am, and why I see the world the way I do.
The Annual TCK/Global Nomad Conference at Clark University is a one-day event that offers a variety of sessions as well as a lunch with a key note speaker. This conference has been growing in its scale and scope every year since 2013, attracting participants and presenters from in and out of the Clark community. As one of the participants looking forward to attending the fourth annual conference in a few weeks, I had an opportunity to meet the student co-organizers of the event, Santi Deambrosi (Clark U ’17) and Melina Toscani (Clark U ’16). Here are some highlights of what they shared with me.
This year’s conference is themed: “Redefining Home: Evolving Identities in a Global World.” What are the thoughts behind it?
Melina: “The first keyword Santi and I wanted to include in the theme when we were brainstorming was, ‘evolving’. We wanted to emphasize the fluidity of identities, how identities begin to change through experience.”
Santi: “Beyond the mix and the conflicting identities, the TCK/ Global Nomad identity is also about the creation. In this increasingly globalized world, many identities and perspectives are being created, and we wanted to focus on that aspect.”
What’s new about this year’s conference?
Santi: “Compared to past years, we have more sessions about mixed identities, and how individuals can deal with the experience. For example, there will be a student-professor collaboration interactive game show about race, culture and global identity that participants can play using their smartphones. We also have some great presenters from outside the Clark community. For example, the founder of an online magazine, UYD (Use Your Difference), will be joining us as a presenter. Another presenter is the Director of the Expatriate Archive Center in the Hague, Netherlands, who will be arriving early on campus to meet with Clark professors who might be interested in conducting research on the topic. We will also have a graduate student from Harvard Graduate School of Education, two graduate students from School for International Training (SIT) Graduate Institute, one undergraduate student from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), and a prominent psychologist from New York City who will be presenting.
We also have Clarkies presenting on various topics, as well as a collaboration session between Clark and WPI’s International Students and Scholar’s offices. Speaking of WPI, we have been working closely with WPI TCK students to build a tighter partnership between the universities, and we will be hosting 17 WPI students this year!
Another highlight is the Clark TCK alumni panel that has now become a tradition. This year’s panel will be the largest ever, with 7 panelists from New York, Washington D.C., Boston, Vermont, and Worcester, ranging in graduation year from the 80’s to 2015. This year’s conference has a record number of speakers, as well as farthest distance travelled for the conference (Holland), and with many individuals coming up from New York City. Melina and I are really excited.”
So, who should attend the conference?
Melina: “Anybody can benefit from coming to the conference. Whether you grew up in different places or not, I think it is equally important to understand your own identity as well as of others. Identity isn’t a static concept, and experiences with foreign cultures or spaces make it more fluid. Whether you are a child of immigrants, person of cross-race or cross-cultural identity, a TCK, or someone born and raised in one place – if you want to learn about it, get exposed to it, I think everyone who attends will get something out of the experience.”
Santi: “For example, I remember one of the participants last year was a Clark graduate student. She was attending the conference because she plans to work abroad and moving around to different countries. She wanted to learn how that could affect herself, and potentially her future children.”
Ok now, tell me a bit about your stories.. Where did you grow up, and when did you start to identify yourself as a TCK?
Santi: “My passport country is Argentina. I’ve lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Motevideo, Uruguay, and Bogotá, Colombia, before coming to the U.S. for college. During my senior year of high school, my twin sister sent me a buzzfeed article titled, ’31 signs You’re a Third Culture Kid,’ which became very popular. That’s when we both realized we were TCKs.”
Melina: “I was born in Argentina, then I moved to Ohio at the age of 5. After that, I’ve lived in Uruguay, Guatemala, Peru, Brazil, and China, before coming to Clark. I learned about the term TCK when I was living in Brazil during my junior year of high school. I went to international schools so I knew I wasn’t the only one, but there was no term to describe it. It was kind of a relief; it was good to know there was a term for it. At Clark, I think I’ve found that people are interested and curious about the TCK identity. Clarkies love learning and talking about the intersectionality of identities.”
Santi and Melina also shared their “classic TCK small world moment” with me. Believe it or not, it turns out they went to the same international school in Uruguay when they were in 2nd and 3rd grade. Not only that, but they once were dance partners!
The TCK/Global Nomad conference is easily one of my favorite Clark events to participate in. Every year, I learn more about myself and about others, and walk out with a lot of food for thought. I recommend you to check it out!