ACU has officially recognized Third Culture Kids as a student group.
“Third culture kids” (or TCKs) is a term coined by sociologists in the 1960s to describe children of families that had become increasingly mobile and displaced. TCKs are people who have spent a significant part of their formative years in two or more countries and yet do not feel like they identify fully with any specific culture. This includes someone whose parents or guardian worked in the military, as a missionary or another job that required international travel.
ACU’s TCK group was first started four years ago by students looking to make a connection with others by eating together and talking about their experiences abroad. Over the last few years it has grown into a group with 50 members.
The bi-monthly meetings take place on Sundays. They feature a dinner made by a small group from Southern Hills Church of Christ, or an ethnic potluck brought by each member. After dinner the group discusses their intercultural experiences, such as differences in dating, church and adjusting to new cultures.
Dr. Carley Dodd, professor of communication and dean of the graduate school, hosts the meetings and is the staff sponsor.
“The TCK group is really a safe haven and support network to come in and meet people just like you, to come in and make that adaptation more efficiently and to find friends who already get all this and kind of go from there,” Dodd said. “It’s not meant to be an isolated refuge from everyone else, it’s meant to be another piece in supporting folks that come to college.”
Vanessa Whitt, (’10) from Cebu City, Philippines, continues to support TCKs even after her graduation.
“The TCK group is a community where students can feel welcome regardless of their cultural background, and, for lack of a better term, feel somewhat normal,” Whitt said. “Students can share their life stories, talk about their frustrations, learn from others on how to cope with issues like personal identity, and even discuss matters of faith.”
Joe Quigley, senior computer science major from Guatemala City, Guatemala, said he feels like the group is a small family, bonding through movie nights, game nights, a retreat, and cultural potlucks.
Peter Cariaga, graduate student in the Master of Divinity program from Cebu, Philippines, encourages any student to visit.
“If people have lived outside of their passport country for any number of years, we welcome them to come. If their friends who grew up in Abilene, Texas, now attend ACU want to come, absolutely.” Cariaga said. “”If people read this article who haven’t grown up outside of the country but are still interested to come, they’re welcome. In fact, we’d love for other folks around the campus to come. While some of our conversations don’t apply to everyone, we want to be an inclusive group.”
Asia Todd, junior multimedia major from Chiang Mai, Thailand, is the president of TCK. Students interested in getting involved with TCK can email Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org, or request to join the ACU TCKs group page on Facebook.
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