Friday, September 16, 2011

Reflections on the nature of TCKs

This week flew by--even faster than usual it seemed. It was a good week of school (three full weeks down... unbelievable!), but today was kind of a tough day as the Juniors said goodbye to a classmate who is returning to Korea and eventually moving to the states. She was a leader within her class and was loved and respected by her classmates, so her absence will be felt keenly.

The TCK approach to friendship is an intriguing one--many of the kids (and teachers, for that matter) tend to be friendly to newcomers, albeit friendly in a somewhat distant way. I definitely noticed this when I first came here. Everyone was friendly--both students and colleagues--but there was also a palpable distance. It was as though I was being kept at arm's length even as I was being welcomed into the community. This certainly wasn't true of everyone, and I don't mean it to be critical, either, because I understand the mentality now. It wasn't until I knew I'd be back the next year that some of those walls started to crumble... then I started to develop closer relationships with people in the community. It must be tough, not knowing how long people will stay--what do you do? Do you make friends with someone who you may have to say goodbye to sooner rather than later? Do you invest in someone who might not be a part of your life for very long? With so many people coming and going in an international school setting, getting close to another person just means another inevitable goodbye--if that someone happens to be a close friend, it's essentially as though a part of yourself has been taken from you.

These kids are used to goodbyes, but that doesn't minimize how tough it is to say goodbye to someone you care about. As I watched some tearful final farewells in my 6th period English class (as the tennis team left school early for a match and bid their departing classmate goodbye), the uniqueness of the TCK experience really struck me. At no other type of school are goodbyes this common, or this global in scale. It's not just like this girl is moving across the city, or to the other side of the country--she's moving halfway around the world. This is likely a permanent goodbye between her and some of her classmates, perhaps even with some of her friends. To invest in another person even while knowing that such a goodbye may loom on the horizon speaks volumes about the character of these kids and their capacity to show love and care for each other.

I consider myself to be a late-blooming TCK in a lot of ways (or maybe a TCA?)... I'm proud of this part of myself, and thankful for the members of this community who have invested in me along the way even before it looked like I would be here to stay. What a blessing.

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