Interviews with Ruth Van Reken:

 The TCK Story

Overview Understanding of TCKs

3-5 minute videos

Video 1: Who is a TCK? What are the characteristics of TCKs?

1st May, 2019

Introduction: We're really honored today to have with us, Dr Ruth Van Reken. Let me give a short introduction about her. She's born and raised in Nigeria and raised her children in Liberia over 35 years. She's worked with globally mobile families. Dr Ruth Van Reken also has written several books and one of them is 'Letters never sent'. and she's also the co-author of the famous book, Third Culture Kids- Growing Up Among Worlds. She's also the co-founder of Families in Global Transition.

Interview Questions: Who or what is a TCK? What are some common characteristics of TCKs?

(04:50) Ruth:...when I meet someone else who has shared this type of experience, I have a tremendous sense of connection because we understand what it is to grow up among many places...

Video 2: What are the gifts and challenges of TCKs?

1st May, 2019

Valuable Quotes:
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  • We begin to understand how the world works in different political situations, in different economic situations…it has been a great gift to prepare so many individuals to live and understnad what a globalizing world is like...

  • "Identity can be a big challenge when we are not always living in the same place....Doesn’t mean we cannot do it, but you may have to do it in a different way.

 Video 3: Why do TCKs often feel misunderstood? 

1st May 2019

​Ruth's Story in the video:

  • I think that one of the realities in our road is we're used to people being, when we look at them, we make assumptions about them...

  • When people looked at me when I came back as a 13 year old to the United States and before integration, I look like all the other kids in my classroom, so they assume that my experience was like theirs... 

  • I started to feel shame because I didn't know it either. And because of what I look like, they made assumptions about who I was

Video 4: What can we do to help TCKs find a sense of identity and belonging?

1st May 2019

Ruth: (00:25)

  • Your story's different, your experience is different and it's one you're sharing with a lot of people in this world, but you have to understand it yourself as far as this is the way it is and there are many gifts and these are some of the challenges to explain yourself to others.


  • But I think what helps first, you don't just have to choose one. I don't have to choose just one part of me. I can understand that I have many experiences that kind of wrap up and make me me. And I think one challenge is people think, well you have to choose. Am I American and my Nigerian or for you?

Video 5: Why is unresolved grief common? What are 'hidden losses' for TCKs?

May 1st, 2019

Valuable Quotes:

  • Every time I take a plane, I lost something about me or my life. I lost my trees, my market...

  • Parents often say we often do this because of the ‘good of this circumstance’, so we are to be grateful…

  • Lack of time...Grief & loss takes time…lack of comfort ...lack permission to talk about it..

  • We don’t see it or we don’t have a community that understands it

  • We don’t know how to explain it to others, we just feel it.

  • We don’t know what we lost, so we are stuck with it…

Video 6: How can TCKs be supported to flourish and thrive wherever they are?

May 1st, 2019

Valuable Quotes from Ruth:

  • “We have to learn to live with this mystery of the paradox…that there can be wonder, and hard things…”


  • "My whole life change, once I am able to look at what my losses were, deal with it, grieve with it, understand it, and then use it as a way to connect with people, to not run away from relationships, I could use it as a way not to push my husband away, for fear of losing, as there were so many unconscious things I was doing before."

  • "Don’t be afraid to look at your story…find someone who understands your story…"