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.