My little girl, due in December 2012, is going to be a Third Culture Kid (TCK).

She will have traveled around the world before she’s 2.
She will speak English, Tagalog and Mandarin before she’s 6 years old.
She will be uniquely able to communicate between cultures at age 10.
She will have the tools to inspire nations as a young adult.
She will one day change the world.

She’s going to experience life through the changing lenses of cultures. It will be difficult at times, but I will always be there for her. We will complain and cry together about the injustices of the world, and how we are foreign everywhere we go.

I’m sad that she will struggle with fitting in, and trying to figure out where she belongs. If the transition between cultures is difficult for me as an adult, I can only imagine the strain it takes on a child.

But I am happy that she will see a world that is so much bigger than we often realize.

“A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is known as someone who, as a child, has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture.” (source:

I have seen this first hand for years. Most of the missionary kids I “grew up” with in China over the last decade and a half are well on their way to becoming my heroes. I consider them my brothers and sisters, and I am so proud to watch them use their many skills and abilities learned from living in a culture not their own.

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(Did you realize that President Barack Obama and a number of his cabinet members were TCKs?)

“Where are you from, little girl?”

That question might be hard for my daughter to answer. Though she’ll be able to reply in multiple languages, she might grow tired of responding with a long explanation rather than just naming a country of origin.

But it’ll be okay. I’ll put my arm around her, smile and say, “It doesn’t matter where you’re from, sweetheart. What matters is where you belong, and that’s right here with me.”

I’ll hug her tight and say, “C’mon, let’s go change the world!”

So Where’s Home? A Film About Third Culture Kid Identity from Adrian Bautista on Vimeo.

Watching this video makes me sad and excited.

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global
David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.
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