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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Hartman's idea helps students bond

Monday, October 1, 2007  
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By Jeremy Schofield

Several students attending Oklahoma Christian University look and talk like Americans but actually grew up in another country. These students are commonly referred to as Third Culture Kids or TCKs.

Missionary in Residence, Nancy Hartman, is the founder of this organization. She noticed a need for it when she moved back to America from Australia with her husband, Kent, and their three children in 2002.

In January of 2003 she started TCK for students that have grown up in a different country and are now living in America.

TCKs do not necessarily have to be missionary kids, but that is usually the case at Oklahoma Christian.

“In their home country they are considered the American kid, but in America they are considered the foreign kid,” TCK member, Les Milan, said.

Their parents are American, and since they make a few trips back to the states while growing up they think they understand the culture. Then, when they return from the mission field, they experience intense culture shock.

They do not truly blend in with the culture in their home country, and they are not familiar with American culture.

They are a culture all their own, which is how the term Third Culture Kids comes into play.

The group began with seven or eight students but now includes more than 50. The students meet at the Hartman’s home for meals and discussions twice a month in the fall and once a month in the spring. They gather to share advice and funny faux pas about American culture.

Despite previous speculation, it is rare to find members of TCK secluding themselves from other students. They are successful in integrating themselves into a new culture.

“Christians meet on Sunday, not to seclude themselves from the world, but to get tools for how to deal with the culture they live in,” Hartman said.

Now that the group is so large, it is too much for Hartman to facilitate and fund alone. The TCK group manages to find funding in other places such as the SGA.

The TCK group is trying to become more student led by forming a steering committee. Each student on the committee has a different job such as planning events and finding TCKs on campus.

The group is participating in new activities and events this year. Someone cooks a meal from their home country to share with the rest of the group during every gathering.

They are also planning on making trips to high schools in the area to mentor other TCKs.

By doing this they hope to assure the high school students that they are not alone and give them helpful tips.

The students help run a camp in the summer for TCKs ages 14 to 20.

“TCK is great because I can find older people and ask them questions about the culture that other people would see as stupid,” sophomore, Candy Hart, said.

Hart, a student raised in South Africa, is on the steering committee for finding TCKs on campus that may not be aware of the existence of the group. She can be reached at www.oc.edu/tck.



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