Today we have Hannah with us. Welcome, Hannah!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the different cultures you are part of?
I am an American-Japanese dual citizen currently living in Thailand. I grew up and lived the first 20 years of my life in a countryside town in northeastern Japan, and I have never been to the USA. My parents are MKs who also lived most of their lives in Japan, so although I’ve always identified as Japanese, there are parts of me that are still American.
After living in Thailand for three and a half years, the Thai culture and language are now also a substantial part of me. Thailand and Japan are similar in some ways, but very different in others. Both are beautiful and unique, and I am grateful to be a part of both.
What is an advantage of being a TCK?
One advantage of being a TCK is that due to being a part of multiple cultures, we tend to be more flexible and adaptable to new cultures and different ways of thinking. It is easier for us to understand different cultural perspectives, which might be more difficult for someone from a single cultural background to understand. It wasn’t until after I moved to Thailand that I realized how much my TCK background helped me to adapt to a new culture relatively easily.
What is the hardest thing about being a TCK?
For me, one of the hardest things about being a TCK is that I don’t (and can’t) behave the way people expect me to based on my outward appearance. People tend to expect me to behave like the stereotypical American, and I just can’t, because I am mostly Asian on the inside. It is funny in a sense, but can also be quite frustrating. They also don’t usually believe me when I say that I’m from Japan, which has led me to dread the question, “Where are you from?”
Also, because a huge part of me is Japanese, I naturally hate being different or standing out in a crowd. But my entire life I’ve never been in a place where I don’t stand out, so I have learned to just live with it. After all, I probably wouldn’t fit in any better in the USA.
What is one thing you learned from being a TCK?
One big lesson I’ve learned from being a TCK is to not make assumptions about people based on their outward appearance. Yes, I still do forget and make assumptions at times, but having it happen to me all the time is a constant reminder to myself.
How has being a TCK influenced your faith?
Being a TCK has influenced my faith in so many ways. The biggest TCK related struggles for me entered my life when I moved to Thailand. Although I never really “fit in” in Japan, that was normal for me because living in Japan was all I ever knew. In Thailand, everything was new, I was away from my family, and I felt helpless and useless. I couldn’t see the purpose in me being here. But through it all, I learned that God made me the way I am for a reason, and He has a purpose for my life, even if I don’t understand what it is. I don’t have to try to be good enough, strong enough, capable enough, or useful enough, because He is enough. My job is to stop trying to stay in control and to simply submit to and trust Him.
What is one thing you would like to tell your fellow TCKs?
Every single one of us has a different story and different experiences, and at times we may feel like no one understands us. But remember, my friend: God does. He understands us better than we understand ourselves. He loves and cares about us more than we can possibly imagine. He will never leave us nor forsake us, no matter how we feel and even when we stray from Him. And most of all, He will never give us a burden too heavy to bear, but will Himself be with us through each battle and in every valley. He will provide the strength we need to carry on.
So, my dear friend, whenever you feel weak, helpless, anxious, or discouraged, think of Jesus and the cross, and remind yourself that if Jesus loved you enough to die for you, He will never let anything happen to you that isn’t for your good.
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32 ESV