What Third Culture Kids Are Saying Issue 03

Kola Olaosebikan

 Kola is a speaker and blogger with a passion to live to make a difference. You can catch her funny, inspiring, and thought provoking opinions on  YouTube ,  CHECK THEM OUT ! Really good stuff! She also hangs out on  Twitter  and  Facebook  and of course her lovely  blog . 

Kola is a speaker and blogger with a passion to live to make a difference. You can catch her funny, inspiring, and thought provoking opinions on YouTube, CHECK THEM OUT! Really good stuff! She also hangs out on Twitter and Facebook and of course her lovely blog

What is the best thing about being a TCK?

The best part of it is the feeling of being able to relate to multiple cultures. For me, it’s not just limited to my Nigerian heritage or American environment—this feeling extends to all cultures. I feel just as at home in Beijing as I do in Lagos because I’ve developed a sense of identity that is rooted in something beyond where I’m from or where I live. I think that having a background in more than 1 culture makes it easy for me to have this mentality that I can fit in anywhere without flinching

What is the worst thing about being a TCK?

Being misunderstood. What I define as an ability to relate to multiple cultures can easily be misinterpreted to mean that a person is trying to be all things to all people or that the person is abandoning their parent’s culture. This misunderstanding is unfortunate but I can’t say it bothers me too much.

What kind of impact do you see TCKs making in the future?

It’s hard to tell. A person’s ability to make an impact has little to do with whether they’re TCK or “pure bred”. That said, TCK’s unique perspective of cultures and how we fit in can be a very powerful tool in any environment that requires hybridization or bridging the gap between cultures. For example, (and this is a very current example) many agricultural companies in the US are looking for opportunities in West Africa. Naturally, they don’t want a “pure bred” West African that doesn’t fully understand American culture and they don’t want a “pure bred” American who doesn’t fully understand West African norms. A TCK is the perfect fit for this type of opportunity. These are the types of opportunities where we truly have a distinct advantage.

Monie Baruwa

 Monie Baruwa is a diplomatic kid who grew up all over the world. She recently founded  Countless Miles  which is all about crafting the perfect vacation for you while relieving you of the burdens of trip planning, deal hunting, and allowing you to jet right away into your vacation!  What makes her company unique is that they plan experiences and not just trips.

Monie Baruwa is a diplomatic kid who grew up all over the world. She recently founded Countless Miles which is all about crafting the perfect vacation for you while relieving you of the burdens of trip planning, deal hunting, and allowing you to jet right away into your vacation!  What makes her company unique is that they plan experiences and not just trips.

What is the best thing about being a TCK? 

What I have truly enjoyed from this experience is the diversity. If I never left my "comfort zone", where I was born and raised, Lagos, Nigeria, I wouldn't have been exposed to the variety of experiences I have gained so far in life. I have been blessed to gain insight to other people's cultures, cuisines, languages and way of life. I can say that I have grown both mentally and physically through the diversity of my experiences.  I've made friends from all over the world, been appreciative of the diversity of cultures and learned so much about my abilities to accomplish my dreams and goals even outside of my "comfort zone".

What is the worst thing bout being a TCK? 

Not necessarily "the worst thing" but I'll say being away from your parents culture and living in another country may have some not so positive side effects on an individual. Being gone for so long, you lose touch of the tradition. When you go back to visit, you experience a huge reverse culture shock. People ask you questions like "but you grew up here, why are you acting different now".  You begin to question your actions and you honestly can't seem to understand how you survived in such a chaotic and disorderly environment growing up. We forget that this chaotic place is what most locals call home - they haven't been exposed to anything else. You start to feel a huge gap between you and the friends you left behind before you moved overseas.  Your ideals and mentality now differs. You don't seem to fit into what you called home while growing up. It's a huge reverse culture shock. 

What impact do you see TCKs making in the future ?

I believe that TCKs of our generation are ready to make an impact in both the developed and developing world. By nature we are all trained to be hardworking and most are determined to make a positive impact in the world. Though, I see most of us making an impact in developing countries. We are so passionate about making the way of life in our home countries up to standards with the countries we've spent most of our adult lives. Tons of talented graduates are moving back to their home countries to bring about positive changes. If we don't change the future, who would?

Michael Oghia

 Michael describes himself as an Arab-American, TCK, and Global Citizen. He is a copy editor at the Daily Sabah in Istanbul. He has an affinity for Louisville, flip-flops, sociology, Lebanon, and  drums.He is also a really really smart guy so definitely hear him voice his opinions on  Twitter  and  LinkedIn . 

Michael describes himself as an Arab-American, TCK, and Global Citizen. He is a copy editor at the Daily Sabah in Istanbul. He has an affinity for Louisville, flip-flops, sociology, Lebanon, and  drums.He is also a really really smart guy so definitely hear him voice his opinions on Twitter and LinkedIn

What is the best thing about being a TCK?

For me, it's the ability to connect with almost anyone on a personal level. I attribute this to the fact that culture is so inherent to our experience (as well as travel too), that we tend to surprise people by knowing at least a little something about so many things. This translates into an almost instant personalization. And when we aren't familiar, we're curious!

What is the worst thing about being a TCK?

The identity issues! I have so many. And this isn't helped by the fact that, for me anyway, nationalism is something I just can't identity with. Also, I only learned English growing up. So, sometimes even our own language differences can be tough because I feel like I'm not "TCK enough" because I'm only fluent in one language. 

What Impact can TCKs have in the future?

That's a good question. I think right now, it's a bit premature though. I feel like a lot more discussion and research needs to go into the TCK experience. What I'd hope this could demonstrate then is where are we most effective, what resources need to exist for us, and how can we leverage our experiences and dispositions to really make a lasting impact. In particular, to help create more open, pluralistic, and understanding communities. 

 

Interview With Best Selling Nigerian-Canadian Author Yahaya Baruwa

Today's interview is with Yahaya Baruwa who is one of North America's youngest bestselling author. He is originally from Nigeria but is now based in Canada.

Tayo Rockson: Can you talk to us about your background and childhood?

Yahaya Baruwa: Yes sure! I was born and raised in northern Nigeria. Kano state to be specific but I immigrated along with my family to Toronto, Canada at the age of 12 to pursue greater opportunities both academically and career-wise. Also, I am one of 8 siblings. 

TR: Eight?! Wow that's a big family.

YB: Haha Yes indeed.

TR: You have a very inspiring story can you tell me about a time when you were challenged and how you overcame it?

YB: Absolutely! I was challenged (indirectly) in 2012 by a famous internet marketer when I first became a published author. He basically said that without much authority that, “one can not succeed financially as an author.” This was upsetting to me because as you can imagine I was upset to have heard that. It can be quite discouraging to hear someone cast doubts on your vision. Fortunately though, I was not deterred. I said to myself that yes he is a famous internet marketer and I respect him for being good at what he does. However, I will not heed his advice on something as unfamiliar for him as becoming a financially successful author.

I overcame this by ignoring his comments and began instead to dedicate full attention towards my book. I worked hard and kept a close mind to nay-sayers who said negatively about achieving success in the publishing world. Today, I have not achieved my goal of selling 1 million copies of my novel, nor have I become a millionaire yet, but I am getting closer everyday. I have continued to achieve above average financial success while making a positive impact in the lives of thousands of readers every year and that's really important to me.

I had a vision to touch, move and inspire 1 million readers with the courage to take the first step towards achieving their positive goals in life, and in the process sell 1 million copies of my novel, Struggles of a Dreamer: the Battle between a Dream and Tradition.  And as a personal reward of having served my readers, I would achieve my personal goal of becoming a self-made millionaire - to improve the quality of life for my family and community.

TR: That's amazing! Speaking of impact what type of impact do you see immigrants making in the future?

YB: Hmmm. Well from my personal experience, Immigrants can impact their new country both economically and socially. These men and women arrive from their former countries, not only with their pieces of luggage but with hope and a burning desire to make their sacrifices of leaving everything they know, behind worth it. They usually have an intense work ethic driven by an ambition and if channeled in the right way, this can bring about economic benefits due to increased production in quality, labour and service. I can see them being entrepreneurs. Also from a social perspective, the new country benefits from a diversity that enriches its national identity.

TR: OK. Let's talk about your book. What is it about?

YB: My novel Struggles of a Dreamer: the Battle between a dream and tradition is about the stories of Tunde, a beggar on the streets of New York City, and Toku’te, the son of a farmer in a faraway land. The two stories are woven together in a charming tale full of intriguing characters and adventure. You will encounter the struggles of a dreamer as he faces the challenges of the limiting boundaries of his tradition. You will laugh, cry, experience romance, be frightened, and be held in suspense as you find out how Toku’te manages to remain afloat in a world that requires everyone to fit the same mold.

TR: Spoken like a true writer!

YB: Haha I try.

TR: So what inspired you to write the book?

YB: The book was inspired by a misunderstanding that I had with my father. As a second year student at York University, I decided to write a book as a challenge. For me it was to achieve a goal I had set for myself which is to like I said earlier touch, move and inspire 1 million readers with the courage to achieve their positive goal(s) in life or goals they have procrastinated on. However, my father urged me to focus on school and not be distracted. I took that to mean “do not pursue your dream of writing a book.” As a result, I became angry and decided to write the book in secret. This misunderstanding inspired with the theme of the novel. Fortunately, the relationship with my father has flourished as a result of writing and publishing my novel.

TR: Now this book led to your business. Can you talk about that also?

YB: The novel has made me a hybrid of both an author and business man. Unlike traditionally published authors who have a publisher or publishers, I established my own publishing company, Tapestry House Publishing. Hence, not only do I write my novels, I also lead the production, distribution and marketing of my novels.

**Note: Struggles of a Dreamer is a 3-part book series with part-2 scheduled for release in early 2015.

TR: That's impressive! You touched on something I agree with there. The idea that we all need to pursue our dreams. Why do you think it is important for us to be dreamers?

YB: It is really important to be a dreamer. Think about it. Nothing in the world today was accomplished without someone having dreamt of it first. This is the only way that the seemingly impossible can become possible. But I also strongly believe that in addition to being a dreamer, one must be active and take action. A dream without doing anything to realize it is just that- a dream. In fact it is nothing but a wish. To quench your thirst, you must stand up and go to the tap and get water, it is a waste of time to wait for the water to come to you.

TR: Love it! What is one quote you live by?

YB: “Keep going no matter what.” - Reginald F Lewis

TR: If you could give 11 year old you any piece of advice what would it be?

YB:  I'll use a Warren Buffett quote to answer that question. More of a paraphrase really. Find a really big hill, gather as many snow flakes as you can, make a snow ball and start rolling it down the hill. Your time is finite, the earlier your start, the bigger your snowball

TR: Deep! On that note i'll conclude the interview and thank you for your time today. how can people reach you?

YB: Thank you for this opportunity Tayo and people can reach out to me on Twitter, LinkedIn, my website, or via email on ybaruwa@yahaya.ca.



Raising TCKs

Today's guest post is from MaDonna Maurer. MaDonna is a non TCK from a small town in the US who met her German TCK husband while teaching at an international school in China. Having been married to her husband for over fifteen years now, she has gained much wisdom from him and learned how to live overseas. She has now lived in nine different homes and she continues to raise her lovely children in each of these homes. Find out more about her and her family in her blog here.

Most new parents buy books about raising kids. They want to know what to expect at each month, how to handle tantrums, or even how to help make a smooth transition for an adopted child. Parents who choose to raise their kids overseas should also spend time learning about third culture kids – a.k.a TCKs.

I’m not a TCK- but I’ve been around them for the past sixteen years. I am not an expert by any means, but I’ve learned a few things in the last few years and well, being married to one sure hasn’t hurt any either. If you are like me, a monoculture kid, or if you are a TCK but new to this concept and now parenting some little TCKs here are some ideas that might help you gain some more insights.

 

1. Research the topic – This is an easy one, but still a good way to start. Find books or websites on this topic. Google “third culture kids” or “global nomads” and you’ll find quite a few sites that are helpful. Find books written by TCKs. I have found some valuable insights by reading their works. If you are interested in some titles you can check out my blog where I have reviewed some of those books.

2. Talk to adult TCKs, or follow their blogs – If you personally know a TCK, ask if they wouldn’t mind sharing their experience growing up overseas with you sometime. You might be surprised what you hear, but don’t be offended if they don’t really want to talk about it. It’s not you, it may be that they are still working through some issues – and that is okay. If this is the case or if you don’t know of any TCKs, many TCKs are now blogging about their experiences and thoughts about being a global nomad. Don’t just read their posts, though.  Interact and ask questions you have about the topic they wrote about. Or email them the question if you are not comfortable with putting yourself online. Either way, if they are sharing with the world their thoughts about being a TCK, then they will be willing to answer questions, right?

3. Talk to other parents who have raised TCKs – If you are already living overseas, observe parents at the school. Talk to them about issues you have questions about. If you are still in your home country, Google “parenting TCKs” or something like that. Many parents, too, are now blogging about their experiences.

4. Attend a conference or lecture on the topic – this one might be difficult to do, but if you hear or see something being offered…. GO. It is not just listening to the speaker, but collaborating with other parents and specialist in this area. I mean, what better place to learn about kids growing up overseas than to be in a place with so many people have such a wealth of information.

5. Don’t box them up in pretty packages – What I mean is that once you gain all the insights and knowledge to remember that each TCK is a person. They are individuals with different personalities, which will result in different reactions to various experiences they have while living overseas. Sometimes this can be difficult to do, but I honestly think it’s the most important.

 

This is not a comprehensive list, but it will at least get you started. I find that I’m still learning – because parenting isn’t an easy job. Kids do NOT come with instruction manuals with troubleshooting ideas to fix all the problems that will come. There will be misunderstandings. There will be drama. There will be grief. But there will be joy, love, fun, and pure adventure along the way. 

Student Spotlight On Victoria Chok

Tayo Rockson: So I usually start off a lot of my interviews by having them introduce themselves. Why don't you tell me about yourself and how you got to where you are today?

Victoria Chok: I'm going to my third year, pursuing dual degree in Medical Sciences and Business Administration at the University of Western Ontario and Richard Ivey School of Business. I've always had an interest in trying experimentation and trying new things. This included founding a charity while in high school, trained professionally in ballet, and operating Canada's largest youth operated non profit. In addition, I served as an advisor for Pearson Education, a writer for Thomson Reuters and held summer internships with Royal Bank of Canada and PepsiCo. I was also awarded as one of Canada's Top 20 Under 20, a Global Changemaker by the British Council, a Global Teen Leader by the We Are Family Foundation and a Scholar by the Aspen Institute.

TR: What would you say is the biggest lesson you have learned in life? VC: Time goes by fast and it's not worth playing by the rules. Take calculated risks, fail fast but never twice. TR: What is your biggest aspiration?

VC: I don't have a 'concrete' aspiration. But-I would like to wakeup everyday looking forward to leaving an impact, surrounded by a group of great minds that continue to push me over the limits.

TR: What do you think is the biggest problem facing millennials today?

VC: Millennials are faced with an overabundance of resources; which, from my observations, can actually be quite the challenge. We are so accustomed to ease and simplicity, that we take many opportunities for granted and do not take the "extra effort" to differentiate ourselves.

TR: What does Victoria do for fun?

VC: I see myself as an eccentric. I'm extremely into fitness, so I usually run 10km everyday or hit the gym to keep me active. Call me a crazy cat lady, I also reside in a "Cat Kingdom" filled with my 5 beloved "children". On the side, I enjoy following fashion blogs and inventing vegan dessert recipes.

TR: How would you like to be remembered?

VC: A quote I live by daily is "Never forget what made you smile". I'd like to be remembered to be the one that accomplished that.

TR: What projects are you working in now and where can we find you?

VC: Currently, I'm the Senior Vice President of Nspire Innovation Network, a national organization fostering the next generation of leaders in the business and technology space. We're working on expanding our online portfolio to engage young leaders across Canada to professional opportunities. I'm also interning at PepsiCo as a financial analyst working on their marketing finance team to design valuation models and launch innovations this summer. In the fall, I will continue pursuing my academic students as well as speaking at various international conferences in Australia, United States and Asia on the importance of youth innovation. Feel free to connect with me at victoria.chok@gmail.com! Or add me on: Linkedin http://ca.linkedin.com/in/victoriachok Facebook https://www.facebook.com/victoria.chok Twitter https://twitter.com/victoriachok