A Land Down Under and A Life in Tahiti: Part 2 of 3

Moorea (Image via Pixabay)

Rachel Ehredt and Kainoa Smith have had completely different experiences in life. One grew up to be a Third Culture Adult (TCA) and the other grew up as a Third Culture Kid (TCK). In this three-part series, we take a look at both of their experiences.

From Hawaii to Tahiti and finally to Huntington Beach, California, Kainoa Smith has kept two things close to her heart to remember where she came from and where she is going: surfing and hula dancing.

Smith, a junior at Huntington High School, is not your ordinary high school student. Unlike Rachel Ehredt, Smith is a Third Culture Kid (TCK). A TCK is someone “who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parent’s culture.”

Born in Hawaii on the island of O’ahu to U.S.-born and -raised parents, Smith’s family packed up and moved to Tahiti when she was five years old.

Her experience in Tahiti

When Smith started school in Tahiti, everything was in French, therefore her first language is French. She had to learn how to read and write in French before she even learned English in order to keep up with schoolwork.

“Everything was very very old school, basically third world.”

(Image by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay)

Smith’s family lived off their own land. They farmed for food and had no access to hot water, unless they wanted to pay an outrageous amount of money for it.

“Everyone mostly built their own houses and owned their own land.”

She lived with her family in Tahiti for eight years. All of the friends she made during her time there are still in contact with her. She explains that even though they can’t see each other everyday like they once did, they are still as close as they were before.

What helps her remember

Smith’s family had always loved to surf. She started surfing when she was young and has continued to do so now. She is currently on the Huntington High School Surf Team. 

“Surfing is the thing that I could always do, whether I was in Hawaii, Tahiti or California. I always had access to the beach, and that is something that makes me thankful for the places I have been able to live in.”

Image via @kainoa.smith

Smith has found a community in surfing, where she can meet people just like her who have always looked to the sport as a part of themselves. Surfing to her is just as important as eating and sleeping. Every morning she wakes up at sunrise to go out and surf in Huntington Beach, just like she did in Tahiti when she was younger.

Surfing, however, doesn’t reming her of her time spent in Hawaii. Since she was too young to go out surfing when she lived there, she has found other ways to keep that part of her alive: That activity is dancing. Hula dancing is something that Smith does to keep Hawaii alive in her heart.

(Image by SusuMa from Pixabay)

“Just like surfing does with Tahiti, Hula dancing does with Hawaii. I am able to keep those places and my experiences there alive in my heart when I participate in these activities.”

(Image via @kainoa.smith)

Kainoa Smith has found great ways to keep her passport countries in her heart. She is excited to see what there is to come in her multicultural life, and where her next destination will be.


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Celebrating Cross-Cultural TCK Identity
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