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Les enfants expatriés ont un parcours hors du commun: une enfance jalonnée de changements, d’adaptations, de découvertes et d’expériences atypiques. Ils vont se forger une culture qui ne sera ni vraiment celle de leurs parents ni vraiment celle des pays dans lesquels ils vivent : ils vont devenir Enfants de la Troisième Culture puis, plus tard, Adultes de la Troisième Culture. Ils seront émotionnellement, psychologiquement et affectivement différents des personnes ayant vécu leur enfance dans un seul pays.
Pour leur permettre de s’épanouir en tant qu’enfants puis en tant qu’adultes, le rôle des parents est primordial puisqu’ils sont le seul point de repère fixe dans cette vie si riche mais si complexe. Leur connaissance de la Troisième Culture sera la clé d’un accompagnement réussi.
Ce livre s’adresse à tous ceux qui souhaitent comprendre les fondements de cette Troisième Culture soit pour accompagner leur enfant en expatriation soit pour mieux se connaitre soi-même s’ils ont vécu cette enfance exceptionnelle.
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28 avril 2020

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1

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9782312024684

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Les enfants expatriés : Enfants de la Troisième Culture
Cécile Gylbert
Les enfants expatriés : Enfants de la Troisième Culture
Édition 2020
LES ÉDITIONS DU NET
126, rue du Landy 93400 St Ouen
© Les Éditions du Net, 2020
ISBN : 978-2-312-02468-4
Préface
By Ruth E. Van Reken
Co-author of Third Culture Kids : Growing Up Among Worlds, 3 rd ed 1 .
Since the day of my birth 74 years ago in Kano, Nigeria, I have been a third culture kid (TCK)… now an Adult TCK. My parents were both USAmerican citizens, but working overseas. That meant I grew up between the cultural worlds of my USA passport land and the dominant Nigerian culture surrounding me daily. It was a neither/nor world. I did not grow up as others did who were living in the USA – my first, or « home », culture. The sports I played, my ways of shopping, and language I spoke to those around me were different than if I had been in Chicago where my mother grew up. At the same time, I did not share many cultural practices with my Nigerian friends in my second, or « host », culture. In my home we spoke English, not Hausa. To my disappointment, my mother insisted that I eat my mostly Western based cuisine with a fork rather than using my fingers as my friends did when eating their tuo-da-mia.
What I didn’t realize in growing up, however, was that I also lived in a third, or « interstitial » culture… a way of life shared by others whose parents, like mine, had taken them to new cultures not as immigrants but to pursue their careers or sense of calling in life. In my era some who shared this life in the third culture were colonialists’ children, international business kids, missionary kids, or those working for governments of NGOs.
We all knew what it was like to live with high mobility – ours or others. All of us in this third culture community frequently travelled back and forth between our passport and host country as our parents took leave to go see their nuclear families at « home » and then returned to the occupation which had brought them to a new land. It was a back and forth life of frequent goodbyes because if we were not going ourselves, our friends often were. When it was our turn, we said goodbye to the world in which we lived and hello to the next world when we arrived. In a few months or years, however, we reversed the process and said goodbye to those we had been with and hello to our other world and sometimes, to a totally new one.
But not only were the chronic cycles of farewells and new beginnings that mobility created a routine part of our lives, these moves were also between places and countries where the cultural norms could be vastly different. As children learning how the world operated and where we belonged in it, we were constantly needing to adjust our interactions and relationships to each community while figuring out how life worked in that place. While this process created some challenges at the time, it was also teaching us many gifts for later living in a rapidly globalizing world. « Code switching » wasn’t a topic we knew by name, but we did it unconsciously as we interacted with our various cultural communities.
Although I experienced this lifestyle from the moment of birth, I never had a name for it until I was 39 years old. In fact, I realized after my father’s death that he had lived and died never knowing his childhood as a USAmerican born and raised in then Persia (now Iran) had vocabulary to explain this type of experience. Yet, looking back I realize how much he understood both the challenges and the gifts of growing up as a TCK that were only later given language. He once said to me, « I never feel like I completely fit in anywhere. » I was shocked as I saw him as a well-respected leader in our third culture community. I immediately remonstrated with him by explaining all the places I saw others honouring his ideas and leadership. He replied, « Yes, I know, but the problem is when I am working in meetings where there are misunderstandings between the expats and local leadership, I can always see both sides… and each side wants me to see only theirs ». Years later, I realized he was explaining both the common challenge many TCKs feel of « belonging everywhere and nowhere », but also exhibiting one of the great gifts of such a childhood which is to be a cultural bridge !
Fast forward from those days of my childhood in the mid-20 th century to today’s world of the 21 st century. By now this experience of growing up cross-culturally which I never knew had a name, or that anyone else in the world shared the common feelings this lifestyle generated for me (such as not fitting in at all during a painful re-entry to my passport culture at age 13 !), has become the new normal for many in our globalizing world.
When I first learned there was language with which to discuss my cross-cultural childhood at age 39, it changed everything for me. Rather than secretly wondering what was « wrong » with me, I could begin to understand where some feelings and reactions of myself and others had come from. I learned to look at the paradox of the many losses AND gains such a life had given me. It opened countless doors to finding deep relationships with others who had shared a similar experience. I no longer felt alone in the deep places of my heart. I knew I did have a place to belong after all… not so much in a geographical place, but in one of shared experience.
Through the years since I had my own « Aha ! » moment, I have watched countless other adult TCKs experience a similar awakening. But most of the work in this topic has been done in English even though globalization means families from almost every country in the world are raising children in cross-culturally mobile lifestyles.
This is why I am so pleased Cécile Gylbert has written this wonderful work to spread a much needed awareness to a wider world about this important topic. It is critical for TCKs, ATCKs, their parents and others who work with them to normalize the common benefits and challenges that come from this type of upbringing so they can deal well with the challenges and help strengthen the gifts. I am sure Cécile Gylbert’s first edition of this TCK book has already changed and encouraged countless lives. This second edition will continue to do the same as it offers insights and practical strategies for how to be resilient, or raise resilient children, in our changing world. I am sure many of you who read this will find your story or that of someone you love reflected here. Enjoy !
Avant-propos
Après plusieurs années d’expatriation avec nos trois enfants, je me suis aperçue qu’ils ne ressemblaient ni aux enfants français qu’ils étaient par leur passeport ni aux enfants des pays dans lesquels nous vivions. On aurait dit qu’ils développaient leur propre culture, leur propre mode de fonctionnement. Par curiosité, j’ai commencé à m’intéresser à la personnalité des enfants expatriés, à leur façon de s’approprier les différentes cultures qu’ils traversent, à leur développement personnel et à leur identité. J’ai trouvé beaucoup de recherches sur le sujet, beaucoup de rapports et d’ouvrages passionnants, la plupart en anglais. J’ai commencé à prendre des notes pour vérifier les hypothèses sur mes enfants. Ils ont tous les trois des personnalités éminemment différentes et je trouvais intéressant de voir dans quelle mesure leur vie à l’étranger avait un impact sur leur développement personnel et culturel. J’ai ainsi découvert la notion de Troisième Culture. Tout au long de ces années, dans mon « laboratoire personnel », j’ai pu reconnaitre à quel point cette Troisième Culture était la leur : ni la nôtre (française), ni celles des pays dans lesquels nous vivions mais bien une synthèse culturelle qui leur est propre. Ils ne sont ni français, ni espagnols, ni chinois, ni mexicains, ni brésiliens… Ils sont ETC, Enfants de la Troisième Culture avec leurs forces et leurs fragilités.
Comprendre cette situation a beaucoup aidé notre famille dans ses choix de vie, dans ses relations et dans l’acceptation mutuelle. J’ai donc souhaité partager cette connaissance de la Troisième Culture pour que d’autres familles francophones puissent tirer le meilleur de cette aventure extraordinaire qui est de vivre et d’élever des enfants à l’étranger.
La première version de cet ouvrage a été publiée en 2014. Il était nécessaire de le mettre à jour et c’est donc une édition actualisée que je vous propose aujourd’hui.
Introduction
Bienvenue dans le monde
de la Troisième Culture !
On les appelle enfants nomades, enfants multiculturels, enfants transculturels, citoyens du monde. Ils ont passé leur enfance dans 3, 4 voire 6 pays. Ils ont des amis sur les cinq continents mais ne les voient que rarement. Ils regardent les films en VO mais n’écrivent pas très bien en français. Le monde est leur maison mais ils ne savent pas répondre à la question « d’où es-tu ? ».
Qui sont vraiment ces enfants d’expatriés qui ont grandi dans une ou plusieurs culture(s) différente(s) de leur culture d’origine ?
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