Anastasia Aldelina Lijadi is an Indonesian born psychotherapist and has lived in Hong Kong, Bali, Taipei, and currently in Macau. Anastasia received her Bachelor in Management at University of Indonesia, Master in Counseling and Psychotherapy at University of Saint Joseph, Macau, and PhD in Psychology from University of Macau. Having experienced several relocations trailing her husband with her two daughters, Anastasia was motivated to study implication of a high mobility lifestyle on the family, in particular the children.
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What does the term TCK mean to you?
The term TCK refers to individuals that have experienced a high mobility lifestyle, trailing behind their parents… it is in this agile culture rather than their second or third culture that gives them a sense of belonging. High mobility lifestyles start from when an individual decides to leave a country and ends when an individual finally adapts to their new country, deciding whether or not to get involved with their local community.
What has your research shown us about TCKs in general?
There are a number of phases experienced by TCKs when being moved around the world. For example, the first is the entering phase – the first two months that can be very lonely for children. This is the moment when parents and schools can and should intervene if the child needs help. Parents need to be proactive at this time so support their child.
Throughout their life, TCKs need to accommodate other cultures and local cultures. Friendships tend to be fast and sharp. Sometimes living with expatriate communities, they witness friends coming and going, they experience loss of friendships and learn in time to stop becoming so attached to people. Adolescence is the most delicate age – children are looking for peer acceptance and finding out what they want to do in the future. International schools may be easier as there are often students in a same situation where they need to find friends quickly.
What is the TCK identity?
TCKs often report not having a feeling of being in control of their childhood. In my study, I looked at people moving five times in their first 18 years of life. That means a lot of unfinished schoolwork and also a lot of new things to learn. As a result of moving so frequently, TCKs may not learn to commit to things and in the long term this could be applied to adulthood – they are reluctant to commit, leaving as soon as problems come about… It’s the pattern they experience and learn throughout their life. The most haunting question therefore to TCKs is ‘how long are you going to stay here?’
Identity and nationality for TCKs is a confusing concept. They learn a different way of childhood and become cultural chameleons due to their adaptability. However, TCKs live for the now and not so much for the future as their lives often change completely when their parents move.
TCKs sometimes develop hidden immigration syndrome after returning to their passport countries… they are supposed to be at home but for TCK, that is not home. The passport country is another country to adjust to. They feel they are in a similar situation as an immigrant, yet the locals and society expect them to be fully accustomed to local culture.
I want to create awareness of TCKs to everyone, not just international schools expatriate communitites. Parents should be aware and consider the negative impact of the TCK lifestyle as well as the international benefits. My key message to parents is to let TCKs bloom wherever they are planted... even if it is only for just a short time.
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