Identity, mobility, and marginality : counseling third culture kids in college
Downey, Dana Leigh
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The number of Americans living abroad currently is estimated at over four million, with over 37,000 matriculating into U.S. universities each year. If the social media giant Facebook were a country, it would be third largest in the world, with over 300 million users outside of America. The trajectory of our society is increasingly global. Amidst this shift, there is a unique multicultural subpopulation emerging-- Third Culture Kids (TCK), who experience a collision of cultures and form hybrid identities in the course of their development. TCKs are more specifically when a person spends a significant part of their developmental years outside their parents’ culture. The TCK takes on pieces of each culture, while never fully ‘belonging’ to any. They are most at home around others of a similar transient background. This report synthesizes research about globally mobile populations from across disciples, highlighting grief and ambiguous losses, acculturation stresses, and identity development. Potential implications for the college campus— at institutional and individual levels— will be discussed. This overview of current research and resources equips college counselors with a frame of reference for engaging this third culture in a holistic and contextualized manner.