One of the best ways to get to know someone is by asking them questions. In order to gain a better understanding of the lives of TCKs, two TCKs and beloved TPSers, Caroline Housworth and David Sell, were asked nine questions about their lives growing up.
Caroline is a five-year TPS veteran and sophomore. She started with three classes at TPS as a sixth-grader and every year after she has been a full time student. Some of her favorite classes were Advanced Composition with Mrs. Thomas, Psychology with Dr. Rathmell, and AP World History with Mr. Mailand.
David is a 15-year-old missionary kid living in Spain along with his two brothers and what he insists is the cutest dog in the world. In his free time, he likes reading, talking with people, playing the piano, running, and cooking. He has been doing TPS for two years now, and this is his first year taking on TPS full time.
Where have you lived?
Caroline: I was born in Louisville, Kentucky and switched between living there and Boston, Massachusetts until I was two. Then I moved to Siem Reap, Cambodia where I lived for about eight years. During the eight-year period, I lived in Bangkok, Thailand for around six months while my mom was pregnant with my little sister. I moved back to America for a year, and then moved to Kratie, Cambodia where I’ve been living for the past four years.
David: I was born in Spain and have lived the majority of my life in Spain. However, I have temporarily lived in the states a bunch of times for stateside [When missionary kids or TCKs born in the States go back short-term to raise support or just visit], which probably adds up to around four to five years.
Have you enjoyed the places you’ve lived? Why or why not?
Caroline: Yeah, I’ve enjoyed every place I’ve lived in for different reasons. The best thing about Cambodia is that it’s never boring. Weekends can consist of kayaking with dolphins, rollerblading for seventy-five cents, jumping off of waterfalls, or just going to the mall. When I lived in America for a year, it was great because I got to play sports and see people consistently. But, Chick-fil-a gets old after a while, and I start craving rice.
David: I would say that overall, I have enjoyed living in the US and Spain. They each have their pros and cons, which does make me miss elements of each country a lot of times. Sometimes I relate more to the American individualistic culture, but a lot of times I relate more to the Spanish “group-thinking” culture.
What do you enjoy most about being a TCK?
Caroline: I think what I enjoy most about being a TCK is getting to meet other TCKs. Getting to bond with another person about our similar lives overseas is really fun, but it’s also just cool to hear about their unique experiences that do differ from my own.
David: There are two things I really enjoy about being a TCK. The first one is being able to experience so many different beautiful cultures. Plus, living in Europe or really anywhere outside of the U.S. makes it really easy and cheap to visit completely new cultures. Something else I love about being a TCK is the immediate relatability that TCKs have with each other after growing up in cultures where we could never completely relate.
What is something you wish you could change about being a TCK?
Caroline: I wish being a TCK didn’t involve so many goodbyes. Constantly traveling and living in different places creates really great friendships, but those friends are scattered all across the world. Getting a chance to see friends again can be slim and that can feel really depressing.
David: Something I wish I could change about being a TCK is the loneliness, the constant hurt of not being able to completely connect with different countries’ cultures and the significant lack of acceptance into cultures that TCKs face so many times in their life. For example, when I’m in the U.S., everybody says I’m Spanish, but when I’m in Spain, everybody says I’m American. It’s like nobody wants me in their culture. I guess that rejection and loneliness from a young age is what separates TCKs from monocultures though.
Do you ever wish you grew up differently?
Caroline: I think at certain points in my life I’ve wanted my childhood to be different. When I went to a school for a year in America, all the kids there had been going to school together since preschool, and even if kids had left the school, they rarely moved out of town. Sometimes I wanted that kind of stability in my life. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t change the way I grew up because it gave me people and perspectives that I couldn’t have if I had lived a typical American childhood.
David: There have been a lot of times that I’ve wished I was not a TCK because then I would be able to see my family more, be around other people from my culture instead of having to communicate virtually, and maybe not feel so lonely. All in all, I wouldn’t trade my “TCKness” for anything because the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Where do you feel most at home?
Caroline: My dad always asks me this question in front of people just so I have to give some awkward and complicated answer. I feel at home in a lot of places, but Siem Reap, Cambodia is where I feel most at home. Cambodia is more homey because everything is familiar. Khmer food, the people, and the culture were around me as I grew up, and I think that’s why I feel more attached to Siem Reap than other places.
David: In the past, I would say that I’m able to relate better in American culture, but I really don’t know now after 2020. I feel the most at home at conferences where there are TCKs, but sadly there’s no “TCK country,” which would sort of destroy the point of being a TCK.
Do you have a funny memory in the context of being in a different culture?
Caroline: I can’t think of a funny memory that involves me stepping into a new culture… but whenever my sister and I go back to the states and we’re in the airport, we occasionally forget that people can understand English now. So one time my sister made a comment about someone’s outfit near us in line, and the person just turned around and stared. Let’s just say that wasn’t the only time I had to remind her we were in an English-speaking country.
David: Probably my favorite funniest memory is the time ten-year-old me was at a Spanish wedding. For context, in Spain, Christians drink alcohol. So, I was at a wedding and spotted a huge nice bowl of what appeared to be punch. Naturally, since my parents didn’t let me have pop at home, I drank so much of that stuff. I probably had around six to seven glasses. So, the evening went on and they played some classic songs like the Beach Boys and such. The weird part about this is that I actually danced with everybody else. I don’t dance. I suck at dancing. But there I was, insecurities gone. About two weeks after the wedding, we later found out that the mysteriously good punch was actually sangria. So, yeah, sangria is basically punch made with red wine, which did explain my temporary found confidence…
[Note: Do not copy this example]
What’s your favorite airport?
Caroline: The Singapore Airport is pretty fantastic. I mean, there’s foot massage chairs, an orchid garden, and air-con, which is unfortunately rare in Southeast Asian airports.
David: My favorite airport has to be Madrid-Barajas because I have always flown through there to get literally anywhere since I was a baby. Plus, I have a lot of fond memories there of jetlag, tearful goodbyes to family in the States, and the excitement of seeing family and friends while traveling to new places. However, any airport you put me in will make me happy; it’s so cool seeing so many cultures in one place. Not even to mention the fun of looking at the flight information boards and seeing all the different cities from around the world.
How has being a TCK shaped your life?
Caroline: Being a TCK undoubtedly gives you a different perspective on life. From a really young age, I had an understanding that my small bubble of problems and events were not the center of the world. My parents run a children’s hospital, and due to lack of healthcare in rural areas, it’s not uncommon for kids to die of illnesses like pneumonia, which is beyond unlikely for most American kids. Growing up and witnessing that, I was consistently reminded of the greater problems out in the world. Being a TCK helped me develop deep empathy, and I think that will always stick with me.
David: Being a TCK has greatly changed how I view the world and life itself. I would say that being a TCK gives one a more well-rounded worldview since one experiences many different cultures from an early age, something I would not have gotten if I grew up where my family is from in Indiana. Also, the loneliness of being a TCK has probably made me more mature than I would have been if I was a monoculture.
Image Sources: Caroline Housworth and David Sell