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Meet some Third Culture Kids

At the International School of Curitiba in Brazil, we spoke to four young people about their experience of life and education all over the world.

Izzi Zigan, 16

How long have you been at ISC Brazil?

I have been at ISC for almost three years now.

Where are you from originally?

I was born in Auckland, New Zealand and am half German because of my dad. I carry both passports.

Have you attended other international schools, and if so, in which countries? 

I have attended three other international schools in Munich, Germany, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Atlanta, USA. 

Izzi Zigan, 16

Izzi Zigan, 16

How do you think you have benefitted from attending international schools?

From attending these international schools all over the world, I have become more culturally aware of my surroundings and the rest of the world. I have been able to communicate and interact with people whom I would have never met or experienced if I had not studied at these great international schools. This has been the most beneficial experience in my opinion.  

Where do you think you would like to bring up your own family?

If I ever have a family of my own, I think I would like them to be as fortunate as I have been with my childhood, that is, being able to travel the world and living in different cultures. This is what I want my family to grow up to be: culturally intellectual. 

Are you considering a university education, and if so, in which country would you like to go to university? 

I have chosen to go back to New Zealand to study in Auckland. 

Why have you made this choice?

I made this choice because it is first of all a much less stressful process to go through to get into New Zealand Universities since I am a NZ citizen. That means not too expensive, no special tests such as the SAT or ACT and good financial aid. Secondly, to me, NZ is my home, the place where all my family lives, my old school friends, good job opportunities and to some extent a comfort zone that I would like to go back to and re-experience. 

Do you feel ‘culturally different’ from your parents, or do you have a sense of being ‘from’ the same place as them?

Since my parents and I have travelled everywhere and experienced everything together, I do not feel culturally different from them. I identify myself in each of them. They are the reason that my brother and I have been blessed with this gift of cultural knowledge and I strongly feel that because of our experiences together, we are from the same place. 

"...attending international schools is a wonderful opportunity to broaden one's horizons..."

Is there anything else you’d like to add about attending an international school?

Attending international schools is a wonderful opportunity to broaden one's horizons quite literally when it comes to knowledge of different cultures and the people in this world. It is a fantastic experience.

Isabella Molano, 17

How long have you been at ISC Brazil?

I’m in the middle of completing my third year.

Where are you from originally?

Complicated question. Originally, I was born in the United States and I spent nine years there, growing up between Virginia and Florida. I’m half Brazilian, because my dad was born in Brazil, although he was born with both American and Brazilian nationalities as I was. My mom was born in Chile, but the rest of her family is Brazilian, and she spent most of her life in Brazil.

Have you attended other international schools, and if so, in which countries?

Yes, I attended the American School Foundation in Mexico City for five years.

Isabella Molano, 17

Isabella Molano, 17

How do you think you have benefitted from attending international schools?

I am so much more aware of different cultures now that I have experienced them first hand. I have lived abroad twice including now, and both times in developing countries, which really opened my eyes to a lot of struggles that we might have the privilege to not think about in our sheltered lives. I am also confident that speaking three languages will be extremely beneficial as I move forward in my life.

Are there any disadvantages?

You foster deep relationships with people in a short amount of time, because it’s easy to find common ground with people who have grown up in similar situations to you, only to watch these people move halfway across the world. Constantly having to say goodbye is difficult, but having friends around the world is in invaluable experience. 

Where do you think you would like to bring up your own family?

I often go back and forth in my mind; some days I’m confident I’d like to stay in one place with my family, though without a doubt somewhere with an international community and environment. Other days I think staying in one place for more than a few years would grow tiresome, and I’d like to continue my experience of changing scenery every so often, because change always leads to growth, and has shaped who I am, which is something I would like my children to experience.

"...I’ve learned the value of being able to adapt to any environment..."

Do you feel ‘culturally different’ from your parents, or do you have a sense of being ‘from’ the same place as them?

My parents struggle with the same feeling as I do of not technically having a ‘home’. They lived outside of their birth countries for so long, they no longer felt as if they had any connection to those places. Now we are in a complicated situation, because although both my parents are Brazilian, they often feel like foreigners in their own country. I experience a similar feeling when I visit the United States, but I also don’t feel Brazilian. We always say home is where we are, but since as far back as I can remember I’ve been torn between these two cultures, not having enough characteristics from either to be completely ‘American’ or completely ‘Brazilian’.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about attending an international school?

I’ve learned the value of being able to adapt to any environment, I’ve met people from all over the world, and I have experienced an identity crisis at seventeen or younger, spouting from growing up in between countries. It hasn’t always been easy, but I wouldn’t change my experiences for the world.

 

Ana Gabriela Schupp, 17

How long have you been at ISC Brazil?

I have been attending ISC since January of 2014, I came in the middle of 9th grade.

Where are you from originally?

My father is German and my mother is from El Salvador. I was born in Darmstadt, Germany.

Have you attended other international schools, and if so, in which countries?

My first experience with international schools was in pre-school, in Russia. The next was at CAISL (Carlucci American International School Lisbon) located in Portugal, where I attended from kindergarten to 3rd grade. From 3rd grade to 9th grade I attended the International School of Basel, Switzerland. Now I study at the International School in Curitiba, Brazil.  

Ana Gabriela Schupp, 17, with two of her friends

Ana Gabriela Schupp, 17, with two of her friends

How do you think you have benefitted from attending international schools?

I am truly lucky to have been exposed to international school education since a young age and can with certainty say that it has shaped the person I have become. I feel that the education has prepared me to endeavour successfully into a life after school and branch out into the world with an appreciation of different cultures. Also, the friendships that I have formed with people from all over the world have introduced me to the importance of open-mindedness and have fostered strong communication skills.

 Are there any disadvantages?

The only disadvantage I can think off is the fact that there is never a constant in an international student's life. Most of the people you meet will always be on the move, from country to country. In a way it's valuable because you always meet new people and there is never a set circle of friends, but on the other hand you tend to become distant knowing that you shouldn't get too close to someone because either one of you will probably leave soon.

Where do you think you would like to bring up your own family?

There is no specific place in the world that I favour. Each place has its perks. What I do want to do is offer my family the international lifestyle that my parents have offered me. I hope to be able to raise my family in different regions of the world, in order to expose them to different cultural backgrounds and have the same opportunities that I am having.

"...international schools truly foster a world of open-minded individuals..."

Are you considering a university education, and if so, in which country would you like to go to university? Why have you made this choice?

With an international school education, I feel that I'm prepared to go anywhere in the world. For the moment, I want to keep my options open and especially consider both the US and Europe. Where I go will be dependent on which university program is more appealing in terms of what I wish to study, which is marketing.

Do you feel ‘culturally different’ from your parents, or do you have a sense of being ‘from’ the same place as them?

When people ask me where I am from I never know what to answer. For my parents it is easy, they were born and raised in one country. But apart from the two years after my birth, I have never lived in Germany, so although I was born there I don't truly identify as being 100% German. So yes, I guess I am culturally different and have a bit of many cultures in me.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about attending an international school?

I think the biggest thing I cherish about international schools is the opportunities that are presented to us. Whether it is the challenging curriculum designed to make us lifelong learners, the opportunity to make friends from all over the world or the ability to adapt to any place in the world, international schools truly foster a world of open-minded individuals.

 

Celeste Mora, 17 (pictured at the top of this article)

How long have you been at ISC Brazil?

Since 9th grade.

Where are you from originally/where are your parents from?

My mom's Argentinian and my dad's Italian.

Have you attended other international schools, and if so, in which countries?

I've attended the international school in Sankt Gallen, Switzerland and Rome, Italy and Ankara, Turkey.

How do you think you have benefitted from attending international schools?

I know I've benefitted from attending international school because I've come to acknowledge diversity and accept other people's views. Also, it is amazing to meet someone that shares your nationality and get to bond with that person.

Are there any disadvantages?

The only disadvantage to attending international schools is that you usually move a lot, from country to country, because of your parents' jobs. It gets hard saying goodbye to friends.

"...it gets hard saying goodbye to friends..."

Where do you think you would like to bring up your own family?

I would like to bring up my family in the United States because that's where most of my family already is. 

Are you considering a university education, and if so, in which country would you like to go to university? Why have you made this choice?

I have decided to pursue a university education in the United States, preferably Los Angeles, because I find it really important to be close to family. I want my parents to be able to visit me and my brother, who lives in LA, at the same time. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add about attending an international school?

I think attending international schools has really shaped me and made me who I am today.

You can read more about TCKs in the article Third Culture Kids

 

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