The 5 Worst Questions to Ask a TCK: Featuring Saja Kamal

Curtesy of Saja Kamal's Instagram account.


Picture of Saja Kamal in a conference. Courtesy of Jajozz (Saja Kamal’s Instagram)

Saja Kamal is an insta-famous activist and feminist engaged in many global platforms. Apart from her public life, Kamal grew up with a twist. She is from a Saudi Arabian father, Rami Kamal, and a Palestinian mother, Fatin Lababidi. She was born in England and lived much of her childhood in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Now, she works in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She identifies as Saudi Arabian.

As a third-culture kid (TCK), Kamal is well-versed in probing and inappropriate questions. Thus, in a FaceTime interview, she dictated a list of the five worst questions to ask TCKs.

  1. Where are your parents from?

Saja: “It implies that my answer as to where I am from wasn’t good enough or honest enough of a response. It implies that I don’t ‘look’ like where I said I’m from.”

  1. Since you were born somewhere and raised somewhere else and your parents are from different countries and cultures, do you feel lost? Where do you belong?

Saja: “Not knowing the root of where I’m really from shouldn’t be the deciding factor of an identity crisis. I have my own origin and it makes me who I am without giving it one classification or label. I am all those places at once.”

  1. Where do you feel the most from?

Saja: “As a third-culture kid, you’re not supposed to decide which place you prefer most, I am a product of all of them at once and it makes me unique.”

  1. If you marry someone from another culture, will they be one-eighth of everything? (asked negatively)

Saja: “Who said I wanted to get married, who said I wanted children indefinitely, and who said asking people such personal question with a negative connotation is okay? We are all rooted from somewhere and it doesn’t matter because there is not one culture that is better than the other, or one that is wrong or right.”

  1. Do you have a sense of belonging?

Saja: “A sense of belonging is good, but also not belonging keeps you liberated and free from cultural boundaries and societal pressures. It means were the most cultured, most traveled, most open-minded thinkers and least racist.”

Suhair AlMuradi, a mother figure to Kamal, had this to say about Saja: 

“Saja reminds me of myself in terms of personality. She always stood out and never felt like she fully belonged in the Saudi society, however I think this makes Saja who she is. Which is someone who loves to travel, and is comfortable in being in any culture in the world. She is always pushing herself to do more and accomplish what she believes in, rather than what society and the status quo expect of her. Saja is very exciting and lively as a person and I love her for that.”

The quote above was translated from Arabic to English.


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