Once a third culture kid breaks past the frenzied “I don’t know where I belong!” phase, their future lies in two possible paths. The first and less desirable one is coming to terms with the fact that no matter how hard one might try, it’s nearly impossible to find your niche. But being a TCK comes with the privilege of being part of more than just one language, one people, or one culture. It’s a cheat code to life, and you didn’t even have to twist your big brother’s arm to get it.
So why waste the opportunity? To quote the brilliant Benjamin Franklin, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
And my, how there are those worth writing.
Barack ObamaSource: commons.wikimedia.org
Born in Hawaii to a Kansan mother and Kenyan father, Barack Obama is no stranger to the third culture kid. When he was six, Obama’s mother remarried and moved the family to Indonesia, where he attended local Indonesian-language schools. Over the course of the next 20 years, Obama moved back to Honolulu, then to Los Angeles, New York, and eventually Chicago, where he was hired as the director of a church-based community development project shortly after graduating from Harvard law school. The beginning of Obama’s adulthood was marked by his speedy climb from an attorney to Illinois state senator. In 2008, Obama was elected as the first ever black president, and continues today in his second term of presidency.
Currently the chief international correspondent for CNN, Christiane Amanpour was born to Iranian parents in London, England before moving to Tehran shortly after her birth. After living in Iran for 11 years, she was sent to boarding school in England for the rest of her adolescence. She later moved to the United States to study in the University of Rhode Island, where she majored in journalism, and was later hired by CNN, eventually becoming one of the worlds foremost international correspondents.
Yoko OnoSource: theworldofphotographers.files.wordpress.com
A brilliant artist, peace activist, musician, feminist, and filmmaker, Yoko Ono’s greatest social achievement somehow managed to be her marriage to the Beatles founder John Lennon. Just two weeks after her birth in Japan, Ono’s father was transferred to San Francisco. In 1940, her family moved to New York City, then back to Japan one year later. After World War Two, Ono’s family moved to New York, where she attended Sarah Lawrence College. Over the course of the next six years, Ono married and divorced two men. In 1966, she met Lennon (who was married at the time) in London, where she was preparing one of the first of her conceptual art exhibits. After a three year affair, Lennon divorced his first wife and married Ono.
Isabel AllendeSource: elynunezblog.com
Born in Lima, Peru in 1942 to Chilean parents, Isabel Allende began life with an already established sense of what it means to be a third culture kid. Her father, Tomas Allende, was the Chilean ambassador at the time, and the first cousin of Chilean President, Salvador Allende. In 1945, Tomas disappeared, leaving his wife and three children in Peru. Isabel’s mother relocated the family to Santiago, Chile, where she married a diplomat whose appointments in Bolvia and Beirut led them to move often. During her time there, Allende attended private schools, where she began to harvest her fondness of literature—particularly that of Shakespeare. The family returned to Chile in 1958 and stayed until 1973, when the CIA-backed military coup made Allende and her family a target for the rebellion. After her mother and father narrowly escaped an assassination attempt, Allende and her family fled to Venezuela, where she began her publishing career and eventually wrote her first book.
Born the sole heir to his kingdom, Simba, son of Mufasa and Sarabi, just couldn’t wait to be king of the Pride Lands. When he was just a young cub, Simba was framed for the brutal murder of his father by his uncle Scar, who advised him to “run far away.” Retreating into a distant jungle, Simba befriended meerkat and warthog duo, Timon and Pumbaa, who attempted to steer him into a more vegan lifestyle. After spending most of his adolescent life in existential contemplation away from his home, Simba was eventually persuaded by his childhood friend, potential sister, and future lover, Nala, to return to the Pride Lands where he killed his uncle, banished the hyenas, and effectively saved his family from drought.
Keanu ReevesSource: posh24.com
Though he identifies as a Canadian, Matrix star Keanu Reeves was born in Beirut, Lebanon to an English mother and Hawaiian father. Beyond that, his ancestry boasts Irish, Portuguese, and Chinese descent. When he was just a baby, his father abandoned the family, leaving Reeves and his mother to travel around the world as she married several more times. Reeves and his mother lived in Sydney and New York before finally settling in Toronto where, despite his dreams of becoming a hockey player, a back injury led him to his acting career.
Nicknamed the “Black Mamba” by his fans, Kobe Bryant is one of the foremost TCK basketball players currently in the NBA. Born in Philadelphia to former LA Sparks coach Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, Kobe’s began playing basketball as a young boy. When he was six, the family moved to Italy to further Joe’s career and Kobe soon learned to speak Italian and Spanish. Eventually, Kobe returned to Philadelphia for high school, but was soon taken out by scouts and began playing for the Charlotte Hornets in 1996. Later, he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, and continued on to win five NBA championships during his career.
Freddie MercurySource: queenphotos.wordpress.com
Internationally renowned as “Britain’s first Asian rockstar,” Freddie Mercury was born with talent. The flamboyant four-octave ranged singer is most widely known for being the lead singer and songwriter for Queen, but also lead a successful solo career near the end of his life. Mercury was born in 1946 in Zanzibar, East Africa (now Tanzania) to Parsi parents from British India. Spending the bulk of his childhood in India, Mercury attended a British school near Bombay, where he formed a school band called “The Hectics”. At 17, his family fled from India during the Zanzibar Revolution to Middlesex, where he continued his education and joined a series of bands, eventually leading to him form Queen in 1970, which marked the year of his completing his journey to awesome.
Dominique de VillepinSource: imworld.aufeminin.com
Other than sharing a striking resemblance to Pope Benedict and Emperor Palpatine, Dominique de Villepin has a pretty impressive track record. Born in French Morocco in 1953, Villepin spent most of his youth between his birthplace and Venezuela, where his family lived for four years. He graduated from a French high school situated in Manhattan, before returning to Paris to complete his university. Jumping straight into the fray of politics, Villepin completed his military service as a naval officer, and soon after began his career in diplomacy. Over the next 20 years, he swiftly climbed the bureaucratic ladder from the French Foreign Ministry’s top adviser on Africa in 1992, to Foreign minister himself in 2002, to Interior Minister in 2004, to eventually becoming Prime Minister of France in 2005.
Mario BalotelliSource: mirror.co.uk
Famously referred to as one of the most “badass” players in the league, Mario Balotelli is a striker for A.C. Milan and the Italian national football team. Since his birth in Sicily in 1990, Balotelli suffered a number of life-threatening conditions, which led to a series of operations. His parents, who were from Ghana, could not support the costs of his illness, and were forced to enter him into the foster system. In 1993, a Jewish Italian family, the Barwuah’s, fostered him only on the weekends, but eventually invited Balotelli to stay permanently. Beginning his career quite early, Balotelli was promoted to first string in Lumezzane, a football club based in Normandy. In 2006, he was signed by Internazionale, before moving on to Manchester City, and finally Milan in January 2013.
Richard DawkinsSource: richarddawkins.net
Born in Nairobi, Kenya to British agriculturist parents, Richard Dawkins was always fascinated with nature. When he was 8, Dawkins family returned to England, where his father had inherited a commercial farm, which Dawkins attributes as the reason for his love of all animated things. Though he is one of the world’s foremost evolutionary biologists, Richard Dawkins’ greatest (and least acknowledged) achievement was his creation of the “meme,” which he originally defined as “a unit of imitation and replication.” Now, the concept has evolved into the infamous internet meme, featured most on Imgur and Reddit.
J.R.R. TolkienSource: bazavan.ro
J.R.R. Tolkien is the author of perhaps one of the most loved trilogies to date, “The Lord of the Rings.” Though he is originally British, Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State in South Africa. While visiting England when he was three, Tolkien’s father fell ill and died in South Africa, leaving his family stranded in the UK without an income. Over the course of the next 15 years, Tolkien, along with his mother and younger siblings, moved around northern Europe before finally settling in Oxford, where he published the first (and most successful) of his novels, “The Hobbit”.
Khaled HosseiniSource: bluekeyblog.org
Khaled Hosseini’s entire career revolves around the fact that he is a TCK. Born in Kabul, Afghanistan (where all of his novels are not so coincidentally set) Hosseini lived in Kabul and France before moving to America at the age of 15. There, he attended high school without much knowledge of the English language and didn’t return to Afghanistan until he was 38, where he “felt like a tourist in his own country.” Which is, perhaps, why his books are so successful. They do say write what you know.