Mixed Loyalties: When Choosing is Difficult – hosted by TCKs of Asia

Poster. Mixed Loyalties: When Choosing is Difficult

Recently, I told a group of educators that international schools often force their students to choose between either ‘being international’ or their home culture as though they cannot be both. When students choose to speak in a language other than English, they are criticised for not being international.

This approach seems to assume that there is only one way of being international. But … doesn’t that contradict the whole idea of inter-national? Why can’t students be both ‘international’ and Indonesian or Korean?

More importantly, how does this forced choice affect children at a deeper, emotional level?

What happens when a child feels as though they must choose between a more powerful identity (e.g. English-speaking, westernised version of being international) and a less powerful identity that connects them with people who mean the world to them, such as their parents? What happens when choosing a more powerful identity leaves a child feeling as though they are betraying their less powerful identity?

Join us for an open forum hosted by TCKs of Asia on Friday, July 2 to listen to a few international school alumni and other adult TCKs speak about their personal experience of facing these internal conflicts and to discuss its implications together.

Event details

Friday, 2 July 2021

6am Los Angeles – 9am New York & Santiago – 2pm Lagos & London – 4pm Beirut – 6pm Islamabad – 9pm Singapore & Perth – 10pm Seoul & Tokyo


Growing Up in Transit on Your Campus – Resources for the AIELOC Summer Institute

Main reading

Growing Up in Transit: The Politics of Belonging at an International School (Berghahn Books, 2020)

The Educator & Self-Reflexivity

Breakout Questions

Q1. Describe a time when you felt seen by a teacher or any adult. Why did you feel seen?

Q2. Describe a time when you did not feel seen by a teacher or any adult. Why did you not feel seen?

Q3. Describe the privileges that you have and don’t have. How might it impact your interaction with students?


Some of the design of this section (especially the active listening exercise in the breakout session) was inspired by Jessica Wei Huang‘s design of an Asian Pacific Islander (API) Educators Community Support meeting that she co-facilitated for AIELOC.

The School & The Narratives

Parker, Lyn. 2003. From Subjects to Citizens: Balinese Villagers in the Indonesian Nation-State. London: Routledge.

Anderson, Benedict. 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Verso Books.

Willis, Paul. 1977. Learning to Labor: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs. Columbia University Press.

Meyer, Heather. 2021. The Global Imaginary of International School Communities. Palgrave Macmillan.

Breakout Questions

Q1. a) Identify and describe an example of a negative narrative that is being told about students at your school. In what way are students being blamed for it? In what way are the staff contributing to the “problem” or acting as gatekeepers? 
b) Discuss with each other how teachers and administrators can model a solution for the students.

Q2. Have you ever experienced the type of intercultural discomfort that was mentioned in the presentation? Share an example and discuss what you or the school can do to address it. 

The Student & the Hidden Curriculum

Tanu, Danau. 2021. The Hidden Curriculum

Decolonising math by Ecolint (International School of Geneva)

Language & Power by TCKs of Asia – on structural racism in international schools & internalised racism. There is a link to the recording on the page.

The Strength of Weak Ties
Original study

Granovetter, Mark. 1973. “The Strength of Weak Ties,” American Journal of Sociology (78:6), 1360-1380.

For well-being

Gillian Sandstrom’s research

Leslie, Ian. 2020. “Why your ‘weak-tie’ friendships may mean more than you think.” In BBC (July 3).  

For recruitment

Weak Ties Matter

How the Best Bosses Interrupt Bias on Their Teams (via Joel Laban)

Breakout questions

Q1. Describe an example of a hidden curriculum or bias in the curriculum taught at your school. Discuss ways to address the bias or to decolonize it.  

Q2. Discuss ways you or your school can learn more about your students’ perspectives.

Q3. Discuss ways to engage parents.

Intergenerational Cultural Gap

Videos created by the International School of Dalat for parents to watch before they enrol their children at the school. See ‘School Culture Videos’ in the right hand column.

Third Culture Kids & Family Ties & A Foreigner in My Own Family: The Hidden Loss of Language & Intimacy by TCKs of Asia. There is a link to the recordings on the respective page.

Other resources

Japanese TCKs on their experiences of learning in a second language – A short video by two Japanese TCKs on what adults did to help them feel ‘seen’ even when they couldn’t speak English.

Third Culture Stories – a podcast by TCKs of Asia.

Identity-Centered Learning by Daniel Wickner

AIELOC Summer Institute – Growing Up in Transit on Your Campus & more

The AIELOC Summer Institute will be hosting 5 featured workshops in June & July 2021.

I will be running  a workshop on June 15 that builds on the book, Growing Up in Transit: The Politics of Belonging at an International School

Growing Up in Transit on Your Campus

How can international schools create a learning environment where students of all backgrounds can thrive? This workshop will equip educators and leaders with tools to better understand student perspectives of international educational spaces and how their students’ linguistic, cultural and racial backgrounds affect the social dynamics on campus and their experience of learning both inside and outside the classrooms. Read more … 

  • We Can’t Learn What We Already Know
    24 June with Darnell Fine (for BIPOC only and FREE)
  • Beyond Stereotypes
    13 July with Angeline Aow
  • Re-imagining Teaching and Learning through a BIPOC Lens
    22 July with Dr. MaryAnn DeRosa
  • Laboring Under the White Gaze
    31 July with Cynthia Roberson

Summer Institute

AIELOC Book Club 2021 – Reading Growing Up in Transit

The Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color is hosting a Book Club to read Growing Up in Transit: The Politics of Belonging at an International School.

All welcome.


30 January, 6pm EST
27 February, 8am EST
27 March, 6pm EST

How do I join?

Click here to email AIELOC or write to aieloc2019 [at] gmail [dot] com

Where can I get a copy of the book?

If you don’t already have a copy of Growing Up in Transit, click here to get the paperback.

Note from Danau:

Don’t worry, I won’t be joining – that way you can critique the book all you want! 🙂


大人になったTCK 帰国子女 ハーフ のクラブハウス・トーク 帰国子女 ハーフ のクラブハウス・トーク

Adult TCK Talks — A Spotlight on Career Paths
Episode #1: When a TCK becomes an Anthropologist
Event Language: Japanese




✴︎TCKs (Third Culture Kids) are people who grew up mobile between cultural worlds 🌏

Club Launch on Clubhouse! ✨
The popular “Adult Returnees” series has been relaunched as the new TCK Series ✨ From 9PM to 10PM JST/Tokyo time. Our chats will be spotlighting the speaker’s experience of international mobility and career development. We’ll be welcoming Danau Tanu, an anthropologist, as our first speaker.

Our goal is to reach across generations and career paths to put into words the experiences of “adult TCKs”—and all the ambivalent feels that come with the territory—for the next generation.