Being a TCK (Third Culture Kid) can be quite the confusing experience, for others and myself. Especially in school, the name Eduardo Alejandro Garcia in Germany stands out amongst a sea of “Tims” and “Florians”. Most people immediately assume I’m from Spain and I have to clarify that I’m actually Venezuelan. Of course I also have to mention I was born in Texas, making me also an American. I’ve gotten use to giving people my life story over the past four years and at first I was a little embarrassed by it. Nowadays I’m very proud of it. It makes me feel unique and important. I wear it like a badge.
Over the years, I’ve discovered the pros and cons of being a TCK. Because of my latino roots and nine years in the U.S.A, I excel in my English and Spanish classes in school, always achieving a “one”, the best possible grade in Germany (six being the worst and one being the best), while also managing a decent grade of three in my German classes. My family and I often receive praise for our German, which we have slowly mastered over the years. Appearance wise, I also stand out with my latino features and gestures. Knowing German, English and Spanish also makes traveling easier. I can fully communicate with others in Austria, Switzerland, Spain and the majority of South America and since almost everyone in Europe speaks English, I don’t have any problems traveling through this beautiful continent.
I’ve gotten use to giving people my life story over the past four years and at first I was a little embarrassed by it. Nowadays I’m very proud of it. It makes me feel unique and important. I wear it like a badge.
As a TCK, I feel I have also become open-minded when it comes to other races and cultures. When I hear a person’s accent when they speak a certain language, I don’t laugh and make fun of them. I always feel an amount of respect towards that person, since I know the hardships of learning a foreign language. I’m also completely against racism and discrimination. Just because a person has a different color of skin, different facial features or a different culture does not make them less. If more people experience other cultures, racism would be less of a problem.
But how have I experienced other cultures? For me, experiencing other cultures means tasting new, delicious food, meeting friendly people, visiting breathtaking sights and seeing the world from a different perspective. I always enjoy visiting a new country with my family. It really opens your eyes and reminds you: ”There are 195 countries in the world and each one is different. My culture is just one amongst hundreds!” I identify with this quote from Ghandi, the man who helped liberate India from the British: “A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people”.
As I mentioned earlier however, there are also some cons. Sometimes I make grammatical mistakes in German and am laughed at by fellow students. This makes me insecure about my German sometimes, which can also make me nervous when I want to meet someone new or answer questions in class. Thankfully, my friends usually help me instead of ridiculing me.
Moving to Germany also changed my view on the world and governments, since Germans have become more open because of their tragic past and history, which in turn has changed my social life a little bit. I’ve lost contact with some of my American friends, except for a few truly special ones that I love staying in touch with through the years. Sadly, most of the people I lost contact with support walls between countries, separating children from their parents and reckless behavior, which I am very against.
In the past, I have actually argued with former classmates on social media about Multicultural topics and issues… They don’t seem to understand my position and ideas. Maybe it is also partially due to us, my siblings and I, growing up as teens with different cultures, that as a result, has shaped us to be different… somehow more tolerant to cultural diversity. Gladly, I’m still in touch with school friends from Texas who are open-mined and adventurous and I hope to see them soon.
Another con is that despite having German friends who I see almost everyday and who accept me, I still feel like an outsider sometimes. I feel like I’m in a “spot the difference” game. None of my friends can truly understand what I’ve been through, which can be upsetting. Besides my siblings, I have never met another TCK teen. It’s a good thing I’m not an only child, or else I wouldn’t have anyone to relate to. Being latino also means dealing with racism. Fortunately, I’ve never had to deal with any racists but I still find out what people say about my race on the internet and on the news. I will never be able to understand hatred towards people, simply because they have a different culture.
In the past, I have actually argued with former classmates on social media about Multicultural topics and issues… They don’t seem to understand my position and ideas
And of course, there is the feeling of not belonging anywhere. I can’t call myself German, American or Venezuelan. I have no true nationality or home county. I guess home will always be the place where my family is. I actually like not belonging anywhere. If anything I find nationalism annoying at a times. Phrases like: “America First” “Venezolanos somos los mejores” and “Deutschland über alles” are stupid and part of the reason racism exists. I am a citizen of the world, not just one country. I am my own person, not some person dedicated to a specific country. I am dedicated to everyone, everything and everywhere.
So in conclusion, being a TCK has been a wild, sad and fun adventure and all in all, I’m glad I am one. I’m glad we moved to Germany and got to see so much of the world. I’m glad I have American and German and even Chinese friends! I’m glad I have a latino family and Dutch in-laws. I think everyone should enjoy and see the whole world like I have. Let us enjoy what the cultures of the world have to offer.
By Eddie García (one of mamá’s Little Nómadas)