In a three-part series of interviews with third-culture kids (TCKs) and cross-culture kids (CCKs), we will learn about the upbringing of TCKs, making a life after many cultural experiences and raising of mixed-race children. In part one of our series, we will hear Adele Johnson’s story.
Born in Canada to two Caribbean parents from Trinidad and Tobago, Adele Johnson is the definition of a TCK. She grew up in a small, quiet town. It was the kind of town that was two miles from the nearest grocery store. The houses’ windows were open, more than they were closed, to let in the outdoor sounds. Roosters woke you up at sunrise.
From a very young age, Johnson traveled to and from Trinidad to visit extended family. Her family began to travel elsewhere around the world every summer as Johnson grew older. She had many opportunities to experience new cultures for extended amounts of time.
New York became one of her family’s most popular destinations once her grandma moved there. Shortly after, her grandma moved to Baltimore, Maryland. At this time, Johnson made her first move away from home. She received her 10-year green card into the United States in 1993 and gained citizenship in 2004. Now, Johnson lives happily in Atlanta, Georgia.
Her two younger sisters — five and seven years younger than her — were hard to relate to growing up with due to the age difference. She spent most of her time with friends her own age, which opened the door to a whole new world of culture.
She could easily eat spaghetti at a friend’s house. However, if she were at her own house, the same dish would be served with more flavor that set off fireworks in your mouth.
In our interview, she discussed the difference in food more than anything else. She found it upsetting how bland and simple food from Canada and the United States can be.
Her family cooks traditional Caribbean foods that are heavily coated with hot spices and sauces. Of course, today she doesn’t take well to spice anymore after a scaring incident. Once, she got her hand stuck in a hot pepper jar — “never again” she said with a laugh.
These cultural experiences have molded her into who she is today. Though, at one point in her life, her mother looked at her and told her,
“[it’s] because you’re black that you’re going to have to work harder…to stand out.”
At first, hearing this from her loving mother shocked her. However, she became aware of how true this statement was once she took her first step into the real world.
Because Johnson now can see other sides of cultures and respects them, she is more open to differences, Consequentially, she can be upset with those who don’t have it in them to see the beauty in a person’s unique differences. This helps her realize the good in life and all that it offers us.