To be (or not to be) a child-of-the-world?

Let’s make it funny. Come on, it’s summertime! Not another boring question. This one’s multi-level, like most video games! You can choose to stick to basic levels (1-3) or to load more ambition, time and resoluteness, and try to climb higher…

Level 1: to be a child-of-the-world is not a question worth posing! Hey, it’s just nonsense… First, only alien children aren’t children of the (this) world. But still they remain children of another world, even on they way to our planet. While dumb humans keep dreaming of exoplanets, they’ll never manage to reach them and settle there. But take it easy, we’re already far above level 1!!

Level 2: in 2014 and beyond, further into the 21st century, any child has to be, try to become a child-of-the-world. There was a time, during Renaissance, we had the feeling that the world was very big, not to mention that centuries before that era we had been naive enough to consider the world was flat!! Now it’s not only surely round and global shape, but it’s not that big, compared to other planets not to mention the Sun and giant stars.

The world isn’t that big and, what a scoop, it’s finite! So this is just the next logical step to learn, as soon as possible, to become a citizen of the world…

Or at least a promising budding one.

Earth is my friend

Level 3: there’s a growing pressure towards the « thing global, act local » way. It’s wrong, absolutely wrong, to think such a nice formula should be kept by some experts, some big power guys (or why not gods and superheroes?) We’re all heroes if we just want to! Unless being educated in a cave, in an isolated family, in an area or a country rejecting the rest of the world, it’s quite trendy (although often costly) to plan some time abroad. Especially during teenage. Some whole families with choose to expatriate for a short or long while. Others will multiply holidays abroad. Some will dare meeting true locals, wow! Some will need a proper pro and personal break and will make it happen. They’ll leave their home country, family and friends, and start they tour du monde.

Level 4: hardcore expat children. Or Third Culture Kids (TCK), as David C. Pollock named them. Hectic, intensely changing life abroad around the globe alters the identity (where do I belong?) and the development of a child, wherever he or she was born. One may expect such a childhood to end up like a win-lose game. 1-1 = 0. So what’s the point bothering with such a risky life? On the « win » side, TCKs are well « ahead of the game » in terms of communication skills, curiosity, intercultural matters. They do quickly build up a « broad base of knowledge and awareness ». A sens of global empathy, as Jeremy Rifkin would put it. They acquire a special maturity on many global issues, no need for them to wait for adulthood. They look like « mini-adults ». They also gain autonomy on their daily mobility between their home and school. Some, for security reasons more than show-off, learn to take a taxi cab as if they were a much older adult person.

But comes now the « lose » side of being a child-of-the-world:
– a relatively passive approach of life, due to frequent mobility, country and cultural changes, and the need to re-adapt to new local rules. While most children, way more static, have plenty of time in their childhood to internalize rules and step-by-step learn to make decisions of their own, their mobile counterparts struggle to follow this route. They often take a « wait and see » approach as a way to protect themselves. They lack the mental comfort of stability and predictability.They tend to miss some opportunities for real choices.
– a confused identity, as they build up several ones through their juvenile life, but may get disappointed at times of studies or professional choice, eventually finding out that the country or countries they thought as « theirs » do no longer look so easy to live in and welcoming as before…

So finally, better remain in one’s country quietly? Better not messing around the globe? We must admit our world is more changing and less predictable than ever. We may also find out that even apparently credible, professional experts and top rulers may get it wrong about tomorrow’s world. So experiencing some time abroad, out of the (home)-box, could be a nice bet for future adults. But still this is not a possible plan for all children of the world, and there are many reasons (economical, ecological, etc.) against any general trend that way.

The world seems to accelerate, and humans themselves, physically at least, seem to leave earlier childhood to turn into adolescence, as puberty comes earlier than ever. But here’s the paradox, as ironically the next passage, from adolescence to adulthood, as never been that slow and that late! And it’s not linear evolution guaranteed. Formerly adolescents, after experiencing independence for a few months or years, sometimes have to come back to their parents’ house, with or without smile on their face.

All in all, learning at an early stage that home can be at many different places, countries or continents, is a way to feel less confused when time for change comes back again. Eventually children-of-the-world or TCKs could represent a valuable group of people who can facilitate change, at both local and global scales. Ambassadors of change? Or paraphrasing Uncle Sam, let me just end up stating: TCKs, we want you!!

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