[email protected] – Betty Park: Third Culture Kid


Our next speaker is a grade-eleven student
from Korean International School, Betty Park Betty is a third-culture kid or TCK. Her family originated in Korea,
born in Thailand, and a citizen of the IB world (International Baccalaureate),
where her friends are from different cultures. She’ll be speaking about
what it means to be a third culture kid and how it effects her world view.
Please give a big round of applause for Betty. (Applause) Hi everyone. Before I begin my speech I would like to start with
some little interesting facts about myself. When I’m among my ethnic majority, I’d feel like I’m the odd one. When I think about the word “visa”, I think about the visa documents
that are stamped on your passport rather than the visa credit cards
you carry around in your wallet. I can speak English, Korean
and some Chinese and Thai. So, what kind of person am I? I could be classified being a third culture kid.
A third culture kid refers to someone who has her parents’ culture as a home culture,
but who had spent most of her childhood in another country;
their host culture. So the combination between the two will result in third culture. In my case, I have Korean passport,
but I spent most of my childhood in Thailand. So, how does this all begin? Let’s rewind back 10 years from now. I think I was around 6 years old back then and I remember talking to my mom
about how my day was just chit-chatting like how
a 6-year-old girl would do. But I then I felt something different about the air. My mom stared right into my eyes and told me that we would have to move to Thailand. Thailand!
Well, being a 6-year-old kid, I did not know what Thailand was.
So please excuse my ignorance, but this what I thought
Thailand would be like. This explains how I had no clue
what Thailand would be like. So anyway, I stepped my first step into the Thai airport
and I could feel the hot, humid air greeting me. And I could see the unfamiliar scriptural writing of beautiful Thai language. And the strong spices of Thai food also astounded me as well. But living in Thailand for 10 years, it all just became part of me. Back in Korea, I remember learning
about Korean fan dancing. But coming to Thailand, I was able to appreciate different forms of expressions of arts, religions, and emotions. And I was lucky enough to savour
the mouth-watering delicious Thai food everyday of my life in Thailand. And I also came to realise that traffic on Friday nights in Bangkok [is] inevitable. So overall, my experience in Thailand
was just amazing. It was a great adventure. However, I also had to go through
some hardships along with Thailand. This is the picture of the Central World burnt down. When I first saw this picture, I though that as a foreigner,
I should just let this political unrest pass by, and just be neglectant about it. But I have Thai friends and
I talked to them about current events. And I asked them questions out of curiosity; “What’s happening to Thailand?
What’s happening to us?” And we carried on with our conversation
so casually and so cordially, that I didn’t realise that perhaps
I was using the wrong pronoun, us. And that was the “Aha!” moment for me. I realised that I was putting myself
into the Thai’s shoes. I was relating myself to the Thai’s perspective. And this happened a few months
before the incident, that I’ve shown in the previous slide. A Korean naval ship sunk down, and fifty brave soldiers lost their lives. Although I was watching through
a small screen of TV, I could feel the pain and agony
of the parents who just lost their sons. And although I was about
four thousand kilometres away from south Korea, I could feel the emotion. So from these two events,
I realised I could relate to both cultures. But I also realised that I did not own any of those two cultures. I couldn’t perfectly say that I was a perfect Korean. Neither could I say that I was a perfect Thai. So I was in the middle of confusion,
and I recalled back the competition that I attended few years back called
“junior achievement competition”. My sister and I represented Thailand,
because we were being educated in Thailand. And we met some Korean teams, who consisted of Koreans. Because this was the international round, teams from different countries
attended this event. So we had a pleasant talk together;
It was fun talking with them. And in term of outer appearance,
we were just the same people. We spoke the same language; We looked alike;
we were just the same people. But when we actually talked to each other,
differences started to reveal. When we talked to each other,
we realised that we thought very differently and the way we view the world
was quite different. In fact, they jokingly told us that
we’re like aliens; like foreigners. So from that event, I reflected it over,
and I thought to and wondered myself Am I really an alien? What exactly was I? So I started small little journey myself. Firstly, I went to my parents and asked them
questions about Korean culture. And I went to my Thai friends
and asked them about Thai culture. And of course, I utilized the search engines and got tons of information out there in Google. And sometimes when I was among the Thai,
among the crowd in Thailand, I wondered, do I belong to one of them? I could not find the answer that I wanted, until I started not too far away, but with myself. I realised that as long as I felt
like I was at home in my own skin, I could be at home everywhere I went. So our home would not be
restricted by borders, but it would include the whole globe. Because, before we classify others
as being as Thai, American, British, and whatnot, I realised that we were just beings,
living in the world together; like inhabitants of the planet Earth, Earthians. So, I think that the very difficult question
for TCKs to answer is “Where are you from?” Because it would take them about a few minutes
for them to answer this question, to explain how they were born from here, but they had moved there when they’re little, and how their parents were from another country. It would go on, and on. We were – It was mandatory for us to cope with changes, and the world view. I believe that we, TCK, have a different world view
from the mono-cultural people. Because we were exposed
to a different variety of cultures, we could sort of pick and choose
and integrate what is best. And come up with new unique ways of thinking. So, I would like to relate myself to the water cycle. The rain falls. And the rain drops fall to the ground, and then the rain just
evaporates back, and joins the clouds again and
travels all around the world. And when I saw this, I thought “Hey! That’s like us, the global nomads!” We’re more like free spirits
travelling all around the world. And we can have this inner confidence that wherever we are,
we could survive and create home. So I would like to send this message to
all TCKs around the world, that our home might be nowhere,
but it could be everywhere. Thank you. (Applause)

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