Kira Gregory grew up in the culturally rich environment of Hong Kong thinking she understood United States culture. That is, until she decided to attend Colorado State University (CSU) and experienced a dramatic contrast to her preconceived ideas. The third and final part of this three part series will be discussing where Gregory is today and her acceptance of her third culture identity in the U.S.
Finding an incredibly close knit group of friends at CSU, Gregory was starting to see that she is going to be set for the rest of her college career. Especially in terms of the abundance of support surrounding her. She knew that she would still face battles meeting new people. Gregory also knew it would continue to be a struggle relating to peers with conversations surrounding upbringing or U.S. commonalities. However, having a support system of people around her that embraced every aspect of her identity was empowering for Gregory.
Gregory also started to embrace her identity growing up as a Third Culture Kid. She even began connecting with other TCKs at CSU. She started to cultivate a community within those connections as well. To Gregory, it is freeing to meet others who share similar struggles growing up as a TCK then attending Colorado State and continuing to live in a foreign culture. Dealing with adversity that comes along with the differences as well as cultural shock that she and many others experience was a commonality.
Gregory felt like she finally met others who knew exactly what she went through in her transition to college. With this group, she started finding the terms to use when describing her experiences. “It’s empowering. I felt like it gave me the support and tools I needed to move forward and be able to share my unique experiences. On top of this, I could better explain the thoughts and feelings that went with them.”
Gregory’s Empowerment in Being a TCK
On top of finding friends who accepted her and a community of those sharing a similar experience, she also began to realize the many strengths that come along with being a TCK. Gregory now realizes that her transition with coming to America by herself was a huge “power move.” She has begun to discover that her life experiences prompted her to become fiercely independent and not afraid to take on any challenges that may come her way. She is accustomed to change, not being settled in one place and many times, being uncomfortable. This adaptability and independence gave her an edge. This proved to be true in her schoolwork, social situations as well as in the workplace. This is something she will be able to utilize for the rest of her life.
Embracing the Differences
Gregory understands she will never be an “average all-American girl,” but she does not try to be anymore. She recognizes that her uniqueness is something she either can choose to separate herself from and constantly feel that she does not measure up, or she can embrace the differences in her background and use it to her advantage. She also explains she wants to be a positive role model for other TCKs that have endured the same feelings and challenges that she did.
At the end of the interview, Gregory concluded with this beautiful sentiment: “I think I am fearless. I think I can handle a lot of adversity and change because I know a lot of cultures and have experienced so many different types of people and backgrounds. I would not change being a TCK for anything, nothing. It has made me more independent. I know that no matter how crazy or depressing things get, there are so many more roads to roam. My mom always says that. I know there are so many different roads I can take to ensure I am happy.”