November 07, 2017
Imagine being born in the United States, then moving to Africa before age 10 and living there until time to go to college. Imagine your parents are from the United States and then move to Africa where you are born. Which country and culture do you relate or belong to: the one that you claim on a passport or the one where you grew up playing with the neighborhood kids and riding bikes to the weekly market? This is the life of a third culture kid. TCKs are children who grow up in a country that is not their parents’ native land. Many TCK feel like they don’t fit in with their national country or the one they were raised in and frequently spend their adult life in another different country. TCK are usually children of military soldiers, refugees, or religious teachers.
Meet Tyler, the son of Danny and Frances. Tyler’s parents spent 15 years serving in Cameroon and work in the MCWA home office today.
Tyler was seven years old in 1992 when his family packed up and moved to Meskine. As a child, Tyler was content growing up and living in a different country, but there were things that he missed being a part of back home in Louisiana: things like sports teams, family gatherings, and school events. The hardest parts about living in Cameroon for him were the friendships that ended so quickly. When another field member’s family came to visit, when short termers came for a few-month stint, or when a doctor and family came for a nine month term, Tyler would quickly make friends with them only to miss them when their term was up.
The most memorable thing Tyler recalls about Cameroon was the freedom he had to take a horse and ride in any direction for miles. He enjoyed the relaxed, laid back nature of villagers and village life, things that many city residents may have never experienced.
(Tyler, Charlie, and Heidi in Cameroon)
As far as coming back to the United States, Tyler never felt like a foreigner, but he didn’t share about his upbringing very often. As a field worker’s kid, he had to adjust quickly to change. Before the age of seven he had moved from Louisiana to South Carolina back to Louisiana then to France and finally to Cameroon. Moving home to finish school and enter college was just another step, but an exciting one because it was something different.
Growing up in Africa has helped shape Tyler into the man he is today. He can still recall his French and Fulfulde languages and truly gained an ability to see things from a different perspective that has helped him understand the difference between important and necessary vs. fun and luxurious.
Tyler is originally from Baton Rouge, received a degree from LSU, and currently works as an investigator for the state. He and his wife Jenny, whom he met at LSU, celebrated their seventh anniversary this month.