What does Cross Cultural Kids mean?
The definition of Cross Cultural Kids is: A person who is living/has lived in - or meaningfully interacted with - two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during the first 18 years of life. Cross Cultural Kids could include (some definitions provided):
Third Culture Kids – Raised in a culture other than their parents home culture or passport culture (place of birth)
Children of Immigrants
Children of Refugees
Children of Minorities
Children of Borderlanders – Children raised in between two cultures
Educational Cross Cultural Kids – Children raised with a change of culture daily (ex: resident culture and American School)
Where did the term Cross Cultural Kids come from?
In 2001, Ruth Van Reken, co-founder of Families in Global Transition, speaker, and author of many books including, Third Cultured Kids: Growing up Among Worlds, created this term to define a large and growing population of individuals in the world with cross cultural backgrounds. Perhaps, most significant about this term is the focus it puts on the cultural rather than racial identities of individuals.
This term does not exclude our racial background from our identity but it frees us from solely relying on our racial make-up to identify who we are. The study, research, and collaboration she put in to establishing this platform has been extensive and well received.
The study of Cross Cultural Kids (CCK) is only just beginning
Why is this important?
According to Pew Research Studies the US is already witnessing a shift in the child population from that of a non-Hispanic white majority to a minority-majority. In 2015 the number of minority births surpassed that of non-Hispanic White births by 12,166.
While this data can provide insight into the racial make-up of our youth population, it does not come any where near addressing the complexity of our cultural identity. Within this group of minority births you will find unique cultural distinctions that will affect the social and emotional development of each child. In addition, for the decreasing white minority youth within the US you will also find equally important unique cultural distinctions.
For example, we can no longer simply identify a student as a US born Latino/African American and are instead being stretched to accept an US born Latino/African American who is culturally Asian American after being raised in Japan while her parents worked overseas for a decade.
The color of our skin, the shape of our eyes, our accent, and/or the customs we participate in become the characteristics used by teachers, peers, and community members to create assumptions about where someone is from, what language they speak, or who they are. However, children (and adults raised cross culturally) will most accurately identify with whatever cultures they were immersed in over their childhood years regardless of their racial background.
Data collection may struggle to adapt to the new “normal” as they request individuals check off required boxes but our society and education system need to accept the dissolving boxes and instead consider each individual student’s cultural identity regardless of race.
Whenever we travel we need to enter a departing location and a destination; in order for us to figure out how to get where we are going we must first know where we are. This is a great metaphor for our kids; in order for children to feel confidant in moving forward and toward a specific destination (purpose) they must first understand where they are; who they are. Each child’s self-esteem, social and emotional health, and intra and interpersonal success is dependent on their identity. If the new normal is confusing for us, imagine how confusing it must be for them!
Cultured Kids considers the current data available, the unique cultural complexities of each individual child, and the empathy deficit within the US when creating and implementing multicultural education programs.
We believe that the best way for them to learn cultural empathy, understanding, and respect is through multicultural education. Children will not only be empowered to share their own cultural background but will also develop their ability to communicate interculturally through programs that encourage the exploration and discussion of all global cultures with their peers.
Cultured Kids strives to celebrate cultural differences while also remaining grounded on the likeness all humanity shares. Regardless of race, ethnicity, or cultural background we are all social, emotional, and intellectual beings. We aspire to create programs that embody rich cultural diversity and model cultural empathy, understanding, and respect. We believe these characteristics are key to remarkable success for future generations.