The duty of Third Culture Kids to be Globalists

One of the biggest factors that involved my decision to become a Globalist wasn’t just the sad state of the world due to globalization, but because of my experience as a Third Culture Kid. To give a little background, Globalism can be seen as a counter to globalization. Globalism is both the awareness of the interconnected reality we share in the 21st century, whereas Globalization is the speed of which these connections increase and decrease.

Globalization, a process of connecting the world, has the effect of creating winners and losers. A good example is the free market creating the situation where one country excels at manufacturing or producing something in exchange for what another country offers, such as cacao beans (what chocolate is made of) from Cotre d’Ivoire being traded to France, as it is the biggest producer of cacao. This specialization in trade might seem like it allows for each country to get on equal footing, but more often than not, it’s an unfair trade. When you look at Cotre d’Ivoire, it isn’t getting the country richer at all: the wealth doesn’t spread or benefit everyone, the government is unstable, and the country is in a state of turmoil, all while only a small handful benefits, namely the cacao traders and the ignorant consumers unaware of the true cost of chocolate paid in blood and slavery.

Other examples of globalization are immigration, exchange of technology, spread of information, and homogenization into a sort of global culture. So it’s international business and trade, science and technology, and governmental cooperation primarily.  One problem is, it’s the winners, particularly the wealthy western countries, who are having a dominant influence over others who are unable to play catch-up. In spite of the fact that we are trying to make more connections, other barriers come up unintentionally due to the “me-first” attitude that makes individuals enjoy the benefits of Mongolian cashmere and Ivorian cacao, but not care about the human cost and consequences for allowing a chaotic system to remain unchecked.

So globalization isn’t inherently bad, but that’s one example of how the process allows for conditions that are unfair to others. Globalism isn’t meant to stop globalization, but is an attitude and a movement to put the needs of the world before a country, of the world community before the individual, for our choices shape not only our reality, but affect others as well. In essence, it allows us to be more responsible and in control of the chaos in globalization. It’s this awareness that every choice we make must be informed and consider how it affects others, whether it is buying Fair Trade-certified goods to make sure slaves didn’t harvest the cacao beans, or calling upon world leaders in governments and businesses to be accountable for the environment such as with the BP Gulf oil spill in 2010.

With these conditions alone, nobody has to be a Third Culture Kid to be a Globalist. However, it is precisely because of our experience as Third Culture Kids, we should be more inclined to be Globalists.

I lost a friend in Pakistan who died in a church bombing in 2002, I lived amongst sex slaves and internationally trafficked victims in the Philippines, I’ve seen the increase in Korean migrants in Manila create an influential business community and some of the sweatshops people run to in order to avoid digging through rubbish heaps for goods to recycle or re-use,  and I’ve seen tourists come through Bangkok with an arrogant sense of impunity disregarding how they treat locals.

These memories of experiencing this and knowing that I belong to no country makes me unable to turn a blind eye and focus on myself and the small bubble I live in, whether it is my neighborhood, my town, my province, or my country. I am not the person who lives in Los Angeles who doesn’t care about what happens in Fukushima when a nuclear plant explodes, nor am I a person who leaves Fukushima behind and focuses on a new life in another city or country. I am the person who knows that the displacement of thousands of people forced out of their homes creates a refugee crisis, the environmental damage from the radiation makes a portion of the land unlivable and affects the food supply in the ocean driving up food prices.

But most of all, I am affected, because I have friends there, even those whom I’ve never met in real life but know through our interaction in the online Third Culture Kid community, living in Japan. And I have friends whom I have yet to meet because I can find myself living there or wherever I choose to go, thousands of people whom I can’t ignore because they are separated by culture, race, religion, language, oceans, and continents.

Being a Third Culture Kid is a result of a unique experience, being a Globalist is a conscious choice. In having friends around the world, multiple places I can call a home without belonging to any one of them, and knowing that our friends are all races, religions, and nationalities, I find it difficult to not be a Globalist, because it is a duty I owe to my friends, my multiple hometowns, and to the planet.

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One response to “The duty of Third Culture Kids to be Globalists

  1. I’ve always felt that the real gift that TCKs have, and that they can pass onto the world, is to make the most of their experience in whatever way they excel in. There are endless talents in the world made richer by having grown up internationally.

    One of the original goals of TCKid.com when we originally conceived it was to help TCKs with issues handle them, and then encourage them to use the most of their experiences, rather than repress them, to enrich their own careers.

    Encouraging a little more globalism wherever they go.

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