Crossing Cultures, A TCK Story: Ivan Ross

Ivan Ross Infog

I have known Ivan Ross for fifteen years; we grew up seemingly chasing each other around the world, starting in Malaysia, then to Egypt and crossing paths once again in Texas. This can happen quite a bit with TCKs, it seems that the more you travel, the smaller the world becomes.

Ivan is a multi-racial ATCK. His mother is originally from South Korea and his father is “Wonderbread White” from South Dakota. Coming from two culturally different families, Ivan has adopted different aspects of each. He is changing fluidly depending on whom he is with, so moving to different countries and experiencing other foreign cultures magnified this skill.

Ivan describes his Korean family as very loud and shows their love with food and laughter. He reflected that even though there is a large language barrier – he never learned to speak Korean – he knows that they would give the shirts off of their backs if ever he needed help. In contrast, his South Dakota family is very quiet and reserved. Their love is shown through advice and words of affirmation.

Like many ATCKs, staying in close contact with family has always been a challenge. It was always understood that when Ivan turned 18 and left for college, he would not get to see his family very frequently. His parents have continued to live overseas, and will continue to do so. Travel between Dallas, where he currently lives, and wherever his parents are has become increasingly difficult.

Through his transition into living and working in the United States, Ivan has had a few cultural revelations. In the U.S. he has been taken aback by the social obsession with political correctness and social justice.

“I don’t understand why it’s such a big thing here, people are just people,” he said.

Ivan said that because many Americans are afraid of being sexist, racist, politically incorrect, etc., they end up coming off as more stand-offish. “(I am) not sure if they weren’t interested, or too afraid to be interested.”

Ivan noticed that many Americans would say, “It was really nice to meet you, we should hang out again,” but they didn’t always mean it. During his overseas experience, when someone would say such things, they meant it.

As college graduation approached, Ivan began asking his fellow architectural engineers what they wanted to do. To his shock, many people replied that they simply wanted to work, earn money, and retire.

Given his background, this mentality is unfathomable to him. Traveling, exploring and living life to the fullest is what he wants to do. Ivan has chosen his career path not only because he loves it, but also because it will allow him to continue traveling.

Like many ATCK’s Ivan refuses to cease traveling in his adult life, for many of his choices have led him to continue traveling. Being an ATCK gives him advanced communication skills and allows him to become more comfortable talking to a diverse array of people.



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