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3rd Culture Retreat Reflection (by Paul Woo)

“During this retreat I had things I struggled with but had never put into words until now, and I had some burdens I carried that I just unknowingly convinced myself I would keep carrying alone. This opened my eyes to the life of a TCK that showed me that what I was going through wasn’t totally normal, yet not isolatingly unique either. Here I discovered I didn’t have the words to describe what I was- and I didn’t feel like I could be “both-and” in my life.”

collaborative art project by 3rd Culture Retreat participants (2023)

“I initially was skeptical of even the idea centering around a third-culture. Being a solution-driven person, I was asking, “So, what’s the solution?” “How does a third-culture kid live “better”?” “Where do they find/create their home?” Yet, I realized that that wasn’t the point of this retreat or the sessions, and I underestimated the power of hearing others’ experiences that reflected my own. There was so much value in being able to relate to other people suffering in third-cultures. We created a group, ironically, of outsiders. And I could feel myself connected to these people even outside of my culture. As for a solution, of course it’s not that easy. There’s no manual for how a third-culture kid should live, and maybe that tension exists for a long time. But it’s ok to not be ok sometimes. You can be both at peace and at conflict with yourself.

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