One of my favorite things to do is to share TCK stories. Another is letting TCKs that had no idea that they were TCKs know who they are. One of our co-founders Sasha Reed had such an experience with an Uber driver a couple of weeks ago. She truck up a conversation and to his great surprise he found out that he was a TCK. He was so elated that he shared the response below with her. Now he wants to share his experience with the world. Remember it’s never too late to embrace your global identity.
This is Gary Omura, the Uber TCK driver. Thanks for texting the info. I went to the TCK websites and found all of it to be fascinating. I just wish this kind of a thing was available when I was younger. But its never too late and as soon as you told me in my car about it, I have declared myself as a TCK. That’s significant for me because I had always labeled myself as “bi-cultural” knowing that the term really never fit what I felt. I will certainly pass it on to my 27 year old son who, to some extent, is a Millennial TCK himself.
I am far from being millennial, but the following is an account of my knowledge and experiences of myself and family on the TCK identity.
My family has always been involved in TCK activities in many ways. My father (deceased) was born a 2nd generation Japanese-American in Hawaii, the son of an immigrant Japanese couple. He was in the U.S. Army during WW2 on a naval ship in the Pacific Ocean and because he spoke as well as understood some Japanese, worked with U.S. military intelligence listening to radio transmissions between Japanese naval vessels. I guess using his TCKness for military purposes, right or wrong aside, is an aspect of “Using Your Difference.” After the war, he was stationed in Japan (Tokyo) where he met my mother, then a Japanese national. They got married. My brother and I were born there and my father decided to stay in Japan to work for the U.S Government in Japan.
Although we lived in a Japanese neighborhood, my brother and I attended American schools where probably 95% of the students and 100% of the teachers were Caucasian Westerners. I was one of the 5% who was not.
The story of my mother’s side of the family may be of special interest to TCKs. My grandfather, a samurai descendent, became very oriented in Western culture, having been an Olympic athlete and a manager of Western style hotels, a skill he acquired by his association with American businesses. His wife, my grandmother, was a teacher of American cooking. She also learning it from the American community in Japan before WW2.
However, when the war started, they had the shock of their lives. Because of my grandparent’s many American associations, the Japanese government, deemed that they may have a threatening affect to the Japanese public and so they were arrested and incarcerated. My mother, then 13 years old, was left to be taken care of by relatives. However, this was Tokyo in the middle of a war and she was never in a stable situation, being moved from household to household amidst daily bombings by American warplanes. In 1969, my mother wrote a book in the form of a historical novel, entitled “Interrogating My Mother” about her experiences during WW2 from the eyes of a 13 year old girl. That year, the book won an award for her in Japan as best new writer of the year.
She later became the first Japanese radio disc jockey. I remember listening to her on the radio playing American music when I was a young child. She’s 85 now and lives in L.A. in a Japanese-American retirement community.
My story, part of which I told you in my car, is not as fascinating. I always had an identity issue because I was always unique but on the plus side, I used my TCK abilities to have a rewarding career in the U.S.-Japan film and advertising field, which I am now semi-retired from.
However, I think the most meaningful revelation that I experienced from being a TCK can be termed as “spiritual.” I am not a religious person, but I can honestly say that my concepts of what is right and what is wrong on a spiritual level was developed by being a TCK, and not from being American or Japanese. UYD endorses the concept that TCKs can bring a unique dimension to all aspects of culture in society. Since there is nothing more meaningful than what a culture represents on a spiritual level, TCKs who possess abilities to develop unique spiritual concepts may be invaluable. Historically, so much of the world’s conflicts arose from polarized religious/spiritual differences, currently exemplified by extremist Muslims. If, in the near future, anyone is going to come up with a neutral solution to this age old problem, it makes sense that the person be someone with the ability to develop unique spiritual concepts – a Millennial TCK.
Thanks for allowing me to express something I never had the opportunity to.