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ByMORE Network on Monday, August 14, 2023

Adult Third Culture Kid Research: The Heart Behind the Research

MORE Network By MORE Network on Monday, August 14, 2023

 

This summer, we had the privilege of connecting with Shelly Lyons about her research on Adult Third Culture Kids. Listen in to hear more about the “heart” behind the research and her big picture dreams for how it will be used!

Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCK) are adults whose lives were shaped by mobility and cross-cultural experiences during their childhood. According to Merriam Webster, a “Third Culture Kid (TCK)” refers to "a child who grows up in a culture different from the one in which his or her parents grew up ... The 'third culture' to which the term refers is the mixed identity that a child assumes, influenced both by their parents' culture and the culture in which they are raised."

What is the “heart” behind your research?

To put it simply, I love TCKs! Although I am not a TCK myself, I am privileged to have many friends who are TCKs or have TCK children. I am excited to be partnering with MORE Network to do this research focusing on such an amazing group of people!

My passion began while I was working with a mission organization, meeting families who have served internationally or cross-culturally or both. As I listened to their stories, I realized that there was so much I could learn from them, particularly from their times of transition. I started on this path of research for my Master’s degree, as well as developing and facilitating programs for families transitioning back to Canada. 

Along the way, I met some amazing TCKs whose stories inspired me, while at the same time, broke my heart. I recognized the potential that TCKs have for impact in their homes, workplaces, communities, and beyond! The knowledge and skills they have gained through living cross-culturally are sorely needed, particularly as our country continues to become so richly diverse. However, I also realized that many TCKs are hurting, struggling with creating their identity and their feelings of not fully belonging anywhere, a result of their years of mobility and unresolved, and often accumulated, grief from saying goodbye too many times. I love that there are organizations like MORE Network who are offering transition retreats, resources, and support to TCKs. I also know that there is much we can learn from TCKs on how to do these things more effectively. 

What are some of the specific things you are exploring in this research?

The focus of our research is the Adult TCK’s experience.  We are exploring the broad themes of career, faith and spirituality, mental and emotional well-being, and relationships.  We have also added some demographic questions to better understand what experiences have impacted these themes.

Is there a specific question on the survey that you are especially excited to see the results?

I don’t know if there is a specific question I am most excited about as they are all such important subjects in themselves! I am interested to see how many of the themes may connect to the TCK experience. I believe the findings are what I am most excited about and seeing the impact of those findings on the practice of caring for ATCKs, as well as for ATCKs themselves!

In addition to this research project, I am also working on my doctoral dissertation research which focuses on how spiritual self-leadership can foster identity development and sense of belonging in ATCKs in order for them to elevate their potential and value contribution in the workplace. Many of the themes and questions in this survey flow into my dissertation research, so I am very excited to see how the answers may intersect. 

When you think “big picture”, how do you hope the findings from this research are used?

Wow … big picture … I am dreaming big for the impact of this research, as well as for my doctoral dissertation research!

First, and foremost, I hope the findings will have an impact on the lives of ATCKs. If even one person finds a nugget that they find useful in their journey, I will feel as though the research was worth it!  However, I hope it doesn’t stop there! 

I would also like to see the findings inform how we care and support ATCKs.  I want this information to be helpful to individuals and organizations who develop materials and programs for ATCKs. I would also love to have these findings be included in the academic literature and highlighted at academic conferences. I believe that the findings can have applicability beyond ATCKs to include others with cross-cultural experience.

Doing this research has been a desire of mine for many years and the primary reason for beginning my doctoral journey. I believe in the importance of this research and am confident that is why God has opened these doors, both for my doctoral studies and my partnership with MORE.

This is why I am dreaming big … I know God has a purpose and a plan in all of this and I am excited to join His plan in whatever way He sees fit.


If you are an ATCK (Adult Third Culture Kid), we are looking for participants from all backgrounds, all age groups (18+), from anywhere in the world. You can take the survey here: Adult Third Culture Kid Survey 

If you’d like more details on this research, check out this article: Adult Third Culture Kid Research 


Shelly Lyons and her husband Shane live in Oxford, Nova Scotia. She is Assistant Professor of Organizational Management at Crandall University and a Doctor of Business Administration candidate at Royal Roads University. She also serves on two teams at Outreach Canada. Shelly is the National Trainer and on the National Coordination Team for Simply Mobilizing Canada. She is also part of the MORE Network, where she has served as the Director for Classic ReBoot, a transition retreat for Missionary Kids transitioning back to Canada. If Shelly had a free afternoon, you'd probably find her either reading, or spending time with her husband & her dog!



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Did you miss our past blogs? Check them out below!

 

5 Ways to Pray for MORE Network in 2024

At the MORE Network, the key verse we’ve chosen for 2024 is Exodus 33:14: “The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 (NIV)

Prior to this verse, God had told Moses to lead the Israelites to a land flowing with milk and honey but that He would not go with them. In response Moses says in verse 15, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.”

Just as Moses did not want to go forward without God, neither do we in the MORE Network. Not only do we want God to direct us in the way we should go in 2024, but we also want His presence to go with us.

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How long, Lord, will I miss our former HOME where I sobbed in frustration and prayed, pounding on heaven’s door to learn language(s) & culture, and how to buy food and learn to survive, let alone thrive? ...

 

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While there, I had the honour of hearing the stories of missionaries who have worked in the overseas ministry context for many years. And boy, did I feel inadequate for the task as some of them had faithfully served a lifetime, having much more cross-cultural experience than I have and the wisdom that accompanies such incredible life experiences.

But what struck me the most and motivated me all the more to listen, was that many of these seasoned missionaries never had the opportunity to actually share their full stories with anyone – that is their deeply personal and valuable stories, the good, the bad and the ugly. And that’s really a reflection and a limitation of our modern missionary movement; missionaries often feel obligated to share only the positive experiences and their successes, lest they be judged or misunderstood, or worse, lose vital financial or personal support...

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Each year, the MORE Network runs Classic ReBoot, a re-entry retreat for missionaries’ kids (MKs) aged 17-20 returning to life in Canada. This is a crucial time in the lives of these young adults, many of whom are not only adjusting to a new culture, but also to new schools, jobs, relationships, and living situations.

In this article, Malik, shares about his own experience at Classic ReBoot, as well as an inside scoop from attendees of the most recent Classic ReBoot!

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Adult Third Culture Kid Research: The Heart Behind the Research

This summer, we had the privilege of connecting with Shelly Lyons about her research on Adult Third Culture Kids. Listen in to hear more about the “heart” behind the research and her big picture dreams for how it will be used! 

Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCK) are adults whose lives were shaped by mobility and cross-cultural experiences during their childhood. According to Merriam Webster, a “Third Culture Kid (TCK)” refers to "a child who grows up in a culture different from the one in which his or her parents grew up ... The 'third culture' to which the term refers is the mixed identity that a child assumes, influenced both by their parents' culture and the culture in which they are raised."

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I was well positioned to pursue the American Dream and succeed at it, and denying myself in any way was not really part of the plan. So tangibly struck, I fumbled to respond to those words within our group, finally landing on, “I don’t think I’m doing that”. 

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” -Mark 8:35

Oh boy, somehow denying myself was connected to losing my life and that was not anywhere on my to-do list. I was on track for a comfortable life, full of all the perks of a first-world society, with no regard for the reality that no one avoids suffering anyway...

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At the MORE Network, the key verse we’ve chosen for 2024 is Exodus 33:14: “The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 (NIV) Prior to this verse, God had told Moses to l...
Read more...
Lament of a Returning Missionary
Loosely based on Psalm 13, here is a prayer of lament of a returning missionary.  How long, Lord, will I miss our former HOME where I sobbed in frustration and prayed, pounding on heaven’s door to learn language(s...
Read more...
Christmas Memories from Around the World
Watermelon, Handprints and Fireworks ... What do they all have in common? They are all elements of favourite Christmas memories and traditions from our MORE Network staff, from around the world! 
Read more...
Deeply Rooted
We invite you to join us during this season of generosity so that, together, we can give Missionary Kids and their families the opportunities to experience a richer soil in Christ and broader branches in community. 
Read more...
The Eternal Benefits of Debriefing
I recently returned from RE-VIEW, a week-long family debriefing retreat, where I served as an adult facilitator and debriefer. While there, I had the honour of hearing the stories of missionaries who have worked in...
Read more...
Bonds Beyond Borders: The Impact of ReBoot on MKs
There is something so beautiful about the quick bonds that form between MKs (Missionary Kids), who understand each other despite having drastically different life experiences. It’s like a breath of fresh air to be surro...
Read more...
Adult Third Culture Kid Research: The Heart Behind the Research
This summer, we had the privilege of connecting with Shelly Lyons about her research on Adult Third Culture Kids. Listen in to hear more about the “heart” behind the research and her big picture dreams for how it will b...
Read more...
Is Competition a Biblical Value?
One Sunday morning in the church where I pastored, a family came to me and shared how some of their friends had left our church to go to another church: a "competitor church". They were completely distracted by their ne...
Read more...
Deny Yourself: My Story of Self-Denial & Abundant Life
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” -Mark 8:34 I still remember the moment I heard the words of Mark 8, grasping their significance for the first time. Si...
Read more...
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Building relationships is the first and foremost thing we should be about - everything else comes out of relationships. Building relationships with people from other cultures is so important, as humor; lifestyle; values...
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