Today we have Clarissa with us! Welcome, Clarissa!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the different cultures you are part of?
I’m a former business kid. My childhood homes were South Korea (where Christ saved me) and a closed country. As a teen, I was in my birth country, Singapore, and then I moved to Prague, Czech Republic in my early twenties. Currently, I’m living in Singapore. I understand that this is complicated for people to remember and that’s all right. If you asked, I don’t have a favorite country as I love all of them equally.
Besides finding out where I’ve lived, not many people know that I’m mixed-race. My dad’s family are Peranakans – mixed Malay, Chinese, and other races. While I was in Singapore, it was interesting for me to learn that Peranakans have their own language, culture, and cuisine. They don’t completely belong to Malay, Chinese, or Eurasian cultures, yet their culture comprises parts of each of these. In that sense, they formed a third culture.
These are the cultures I’m part of: South Korean, Singaporean, American, the closed country’s culture, and a little of Central European. Why American? For my 12 years of education, I attended international schools that had many American teachers and students, and an American homeschooling program. I don’t identify myself with any of the above cultures wholly; rather, I am made out of parts of them. The funny thing is that despite growing up in cities, I tend to have a slow pace.
South Korea has a slightly larger part of me due to me living there during ages when I began to interact and connect with the world around me. Even my taste buds often long for the comfort food of traditional S. Korean cuisine.
What is an advantage of being a TCK?
An advantage is the ability to connect with people. Oftentimes, this connection crosses boundaries, whether the boundaries be skin colors, nationalities, or even countries. I find that it’s such a blessing to be able to connect, serve, and sow the gospel seeds in the people God placed in my life, no matter where I am.
And because God brought me through challenges arising from the TCK life, I can relate to and encourage other TCKs to live victoriously.
What is the hardest thing about being a TCK?
This question is tough! I can think of so many: transition, identity, fitting in, lacking long-term friendships, lacking a long-term home, and more. After contemplating for some time, I think the hardest thing is accepting the TCK life and its challenges.
Accepting that I don’t have a country where I call home and that I don’t completely fit in to any country. Accepting that I have to say goodbye often, that I have to acknowledge my losses, and that the complex griefs I had since childhood may never be fully resolved in my lifetime. Accepting that I’m not doing okay mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And that doesn’t always mean that I’m not thankful. Rather, accepting means acknowledging my struggles and bringing them to Christ instead of avoiding and suppressing them.
Biggest of all, accepting God’s will, because the nomadic life I’ve lived can feel like being dragged across the globe without a choice to stay in one country.
What is one thing you learned from being a TCK?
One thing I learned is accepting. Yup. The hardest thing is one of the most important things I’ve learned. As a child, I struggled to acknowledge my losses, so I ended up suppressing most of my emotions. In my early teens and after my first repatriation, I struggled with identity and belongingness as I couldn’t fit into my birth country. I also struggled to accept that I had to start friendships and learn culture from scratch in my birth country while everyone else already knew each other.
Because of all this, I hated God for dragging me around the earth. But by His grace and mercy, I eventually submitted and learned to accept my past TCK life.
How has being a TCK influenced your faith?
Despite the TCK challenges and the downsides, God used them to draw me closer to Him and point me to spiritual things instead of earthly.
Where is my identity? In Christ Jesus. Where is home? With Jesus in heaven. Where do I belong on earth? Wherever Jesus leads me to as long as He’s with me. Who will always be my friend? Jesus. He’s my best friend. And what about my complex, unresolved grief? Jesus will carry me through it and it makes me look forward to the everlasting joy in heaven.
After I accepted my TCK life, Jesus drew me closer to Him than I could have ever imagined. And since then, I have striven to be a woman after His heart.
What is one thing you would like to tell your fellow TCKs?
It’s okay to acknowledge that you’re not okay emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Because that’s the truth. After you acknowledge it, look at Jesus instead of yourself and your circumstances. And He’ll bring you through the lowest valleys and the highest mountain tops, drawing you closer to His heart every step of the way.