Where do you belong? Where is home? What country or culture do you identify most with? These may seem like simple enough questions for most people, but not for Abeer Yusuf. Born in India and raised in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia, Yusuf had to grapple with the definition of identity and belonging from an early age.
“I struggled with not knowing my place in the world for the longest time – I still struggle with it sometimes, and I know lots of other people do too,” says Yusuf.
Indeed, it was this that led her to explore the question of identity, particularly, having multiple identities or lack thereof in a globalized context. Drawing from her personal story, she wanted to examine the advantages and the disadvantages of this experience.
“It’s easy enough when you have one culture only to identify with vis-à-vis national values and ideas, but more difficult when you feel your allegiance to two or more countries, or neither,” says Yusuf.
A 2nd-year Journalism student at the UBC School of Journalism, Yusuf stumbled upon the definition of “TCK” – or “Third Culture Kid,” a few years ago while researching for her master’s thesis on Cultural Studies. Suddenly, she had a term and community that identified with her feeling of not belonging and conforming to conventional definitions of identity.
“There are an estimated 4 million TCKs in this world—because they’re such a mobile group, we don’t really know how many of them are out there—so chances are you probably know one.”
Through her talk, she hopes to both raise awareness about the existence of ‘Third Culture Kids’ and engage the TEDx Terry Talks audience in a broader conversation about identity and their own definitions of “home.”
“I know that lots of TCKs don’t even know that they’re part of this community. I want to make people aware of this, what it means to feel like this, and whether identity has become redundant or if it is still important,” says Yusuf.
When not researching on TCKs and watching Sesame Street re-runs, Abeer Yusuf also writes on cultural integration for the Guidebook magazine. Read her column “Abeer Untapped” here.
Be sure to check out Abeer’s talk at the TEDx Terry Talks on October 25th at the Life Sciences Centre. Click here for ticket information.