Being a Third Culture Kid (TCK) can be confusing. Trust me, I didn’t even know I was one until recently. Even harder is articulating your background in a nutshell, while job searching. So, I wanted to take some time to share my story, clarify my experiences, and layout my next move.
I grew up among worlds.
As a young kid, I spent my childhood in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) going to school, doing street dance battles, and ravaging through Le Journal de Mickey and NASA’s Spaceport Magazines — even though I didn’t speak a word of English.
I caught a big break at age 11 when my family and I moved to the US where my curiosity led me to dive deep into manga, anime, and sci-fi, fantasy novels. In High School, I discovered the world of K-pop & K-dramas, and as I engaged in cultural activities, the more nuanced and intricate human connections I saw between people, languages, and communities.
Evidently, I went from passively touring embassies in DC to actually living with a host family in China where I witnessed firsthand the cultural ties between West Africa and East Asia through filial piety, ancestral rites, language cues, culinary practices, and childhood games. Fueled by these similarities, my bond with my host family and connection to China became integral to who I am, ultimately making me a Third Culture Kid (TCK) — a bridge-builder among worlds.
As a TCK, I majored in International Studies and supplemented my coursework by leading DE&I initiatives at Juniata College. Integral to that experience was my role as Community Programming Coordinator for the Global Village (spanning 3 years) where I was challenged to foster a newly-built, living & learning space and help students overcome cultural dissonance.
Soon, I initiated a 24/7 open-door policy in my dorm room, — located between the Francophone and Chinese house — where domestic and international students representing dozens of cultures were exchanging “indomie” ramen packs and plátano fritos while Vietnamese aspiring comedians would make cheesy “twenty-pho-seven” puns. Conversations would range from cultural appropriation and hair politics in Black communities to serious discussions on mental health, ending in our favorite expression, “It’s gonna be daijoubu” (“ok” in Japanese).
Just as the historical Silk Road connected merchants, travelers, and knowledge seekers, from China, Europe, the Middle East, all the way to Africa, this constant convergence of cultures in my dorm room came to be known as Juniata’s very own “Silk Road.”
In light of the success of the mini “silk road” hub that I initiated in my college, I created “Silk Road Journey”, a personal story lab that uplifts students from immigrant families through the US College admissions process by helping them craft compelling personal stories that celebrate their cultural background.
Though I want to make an impact as an entrepreneur, the other component of my career endeavors involves civic tech and UX Research. I see that the world is more interconnected than ever, but very few people understand the complexities of cultural nuances, especially as it pertains to the usage of our technology. I have a unique cross-cultural background that underscores those multifaceted issues, which fuels my desire to take action — at least partake in the conversation surrounding “Time Well Spent,” a movement that strives to hold technology companies accountable for our digital well being;
Just as I want to help people connect with their stories and foster affinity among communities, I also have a vested interest in paving the way for technology that amplifies rather than diminishes our interpersonal connections.
Bold as my endeavors maybe, at the end of the day, I believe that we ALL have a story to tell, and my mission is to empower you to unlock yours — beyond the screens of our devices and our immediate comfort zones — so you can succeed authentically in life.
What are you waiting for? Reach out and let’s talk!