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Former/Current Expats Make Great Hires

November 25th, 2009 by Liesl received 4 Comments »

Here’s a great article on how former/recovering/current expats or Third Culture Kids can be great additions to your team.

Just try explaining that to the dude who looks at your CV, raises an eyebrow and says “Ethiopia, huh?” or, my personal favourite, “Where do you FEEL like you’re from?”

Cultural relativism can be a powerful force for good in the right hands, but it can take a while to learn to see past the frustrations. It has certainly taken me many years to understand that the limitations of a society are part of a greater package, and that appreciating the possibilities is more important than identifying what is better elsewhere.

The true TCK learns that many of those amazing things we appreciate about a place or a cultural are not wholly transposable to another. But elements of them are, and as our Global Village grows, the ability to appreciate multiple approaches to the same problem or grasp conflicting points of view for all their worth will become more and more important.

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Posted under: Career, Expats, World Wide Wonder


4 Responses to “Former/Current Expats Make Great Hires”

  1. Kerith says:

    Wait a second, people raise their eyebrows when they see your experience in Ethiopia and think it’s a bad thing? Third Culture Kids and people who have spent time living in other cultures (and not just visiting for a semester and hanging out with friends from university back home) bring an important perspective to any workplace. Okay, maybe that perspective wouldn’t have been welcomed in the W. Bush Administration, but other businesses, organizations, governments, and schools should be jumping to have Third Culture Kids working for them. An organization that has any contact with a different culture needs people who can navigate and recognize diverse cultural viewpoints and who better than someone who has grown up doing just that?

  2. admin says:

    Kerith: I think certain people, particularly those who have lived very static lives, are concerned with either:

    a) “Strangeness” – Not just that it’s foreign to them, but a pre-conceived notion that growing up around the world must make a person odd, different or maladjusted because that’s “no way to raise a family”

    b) Wanderlust – Some people assume an expat life growing up = the desire to perpetuate it as an adult. I personally think all of us (recovering expats, current expats and born-and-bred folk) fight itchy feet vs. setting up roots: we just articulate it differently. For some it’s played out over “Should we get married?” for others it’s “Should I run off and join the circus or backpack around China for a year?” I’ve met people who grew up in the same town their whole life only to choose to join the international ESL teaching circuit in fun places like Taiwan, and I’ve met people who moved around every 6 months – 2 years as kids/teenagers who choose to live in the same place for the rest of their lives as adults.

    All to say, TCKs may be more aware of their options, both locally and globally, but it doesn’t necessarily make us flighty, inattentive, distracted or non-commital (which is what some assume). It makes us more likely to choose the right path, however winding it may be.

  3. Kerith says:

    Or maybe it’s the unplaceable accent that disturbs them. Hey, did you know you have an accent? Where’s it from? 😉

  4. admin says:

    My accent was forged in the sands of vagrancy, whittled by the winds of change, and eroded by the high seas of diaspora.

    My purple prose, on the other hand, is purely genetic :)