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I am not an Army B.R.A.T. – A TCK Story

Katie performing in Romeo and Juliet
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Catching up with Katie Piner is always a privilege. I have known Katie for ten years, we met in Cairo, Egypt where we both went to the American school, and graduated beneath the Giza Pyramids.

 

Katie is a Third Culture Kid who has lived in six countries and three states (United States). Katie is an American citizen, but three months after she was born her family moved to Germany.

 

Although Katie’s Dad was in the army, Katie does not identify as an “Army BRAT.” I honestly had never really thought of her as one either.

 

Katie did not experience the Army BRAT culture. She said that, for the most part, Army BRATS often move around the U.S., or at least on a base. But she had spent her entire life overseas, living in towns and neighborhoods rather than a “Little America.”

 

During her stay in Egypt, Katie’s father renewed his contract so that her older brother could graduate from the same high school he started in. However, he could not renew his contract again for Katie to graduate.

 

Instead, he retired and took a contracting job in Egypt so that Katie could finish school as well. When asked about her family Katie said “they were always the constant.” She expressed that because of the way that her family moved around the world, she is closer to them than she would have been had they lived a sedentary life.

 

Katie is currently studying abroad at Oxford University, and will soon return to Massachusetts where she attends Wellesley College for girls. When she first arrived she was invited to the International Orientation where the classic TCK tale begins.

 

Everyone at orientation received a nametag with their passport country’s flag on it, so of course Katie was sporting the American flag. As an icebreaker everyone was asked to stand when their country was called.

 

When Egypt came along the list the orientation leader said “And this year we are lucky enough to be joined by a girl from Egypt.” Immediately Katie started looking around for a young Egyptian girl, hoping they didn’t mean her. But no one else stood.

 

After an awkward pause Katie stood, and everyone turned around, surprised to see the blonde girl with the American flag on her nametag. Classic.

 

“Where are you from?” is always the hardest and most anxiety-inducing question for a TCK. “I dread those words in a conversation!” Katie admitted, like many TCKs, the answer to this question is always fleeting.

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6 comments

  1. I think you did a really good job telling her story! I love the introduction where you say “we both graduated under the pyramids of Giza. ” I think that really sets the tone of the story and it caught my attention right away. Great pictures too!

  2. Reading articles like these really put things in perspective for me sometimes. What I mean by this is, I’ve grown up in Fort Collins, Colorado my entire life. I have lived house since I was 6 years old and know a lot more people in Fort Collins than most Colorado State University students. It’s really amazing to me how different people’s lives are. It’s eye opening that there are people who have never lived in the same place for an entire year in their lives. In a way I envy these people, because they get to see so much of the world…but as the saying goes “the grass is always greener.”

  3. Very well written article. Im a TCK and lived in 3 other place before. However, i can’t imagine making any more moves and getting used to a diffrent habitat.

  4. This is a really interesting profile story! It’s always cool to hear different stories from TCK’s perspectives and experiences. Great article!

  5. I love the long form articles that tell a story. I always enjoy reading your articles Lauren!

  6. Jealous that you graduated under the pyramids!! Great choice of photos in the gallery too!!

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