The following blog post comes to us from one of our TCK advisors. Many thanks to SW for her review of this great resource and some lessons learned by her own MK.
Michèle Phoenix – an advocate and friend of MKs and their parents
I think two things hit me when I first encountered Michele Phoenix’s writing about MKs*.
First, she shoots straight. She knows the MK world inside-out as well as outside-in, and she says it like it is. She doesn’t mince words. As an MK herself that now reaches out to MKs, I can trust her to know what she’s talking about.
Second, although she doesn’t mince them, she does craft them – words, that is. And as she writes, she draws us in to that sense of belonging that MKs look for. She doesn’t assume that everything she shares about MKs – their world, their perspectives, their tendencies, their idiosyncrasies – will apply equally to every MK. She invites MKs and those that care about them to ponder a great variety of topics.
Our oldest daughter (H.A., now 26) encountered Michele’s earlier articles when she was transitioning to Canada, our passport country, from Russia, her growing-up country, and seeking help in the inevitable search for identity that comes with such MK major life transitions.
While living in a bible college dorm across the ocean from parents, H.A. had questions like—
- Why do I loudly cheer for the Russian Olympic hockey team in a room full of Canadians cheering for the Canadian team?
- Why are team sports so important to these people? Why should I care about that?
- What TV show?!? Which pop star?!? How am I supposed to know that’s a brand name?
- Why did that guy get the impression I was interested in him? I just like discussing deep topics!
Michele had some great articles that helped H.A. feel like she wasn’t alone. Reading the lists of shared MK characteristics gave a good laugh and even some specifics to relate with – i.e. We may try on clothes while standing in the middle of the store. (Changing rooms? Really?). More serious topics like “MKs and Relationships” brought clarity to some of those relationship questions.
As Michele says,
“To the mono-cultural person who craves time to slowly move from depth to depth, the MK appears way too intense. To the TCK who values speedy self-revelation, the mono-cultural’s emphasis on time feels shallow and pointless. As a result, we (stupidly) reach the conclusion that an entire people-group is relationally flimsy and we write them off with an arrogant generalization.” http://michelephoenix.com/2014/09/mks-and-relationships/
No, Michele wasn’t H.A.’s savior during that tough transition time. Jesus still had that covered. But Michele was someone else to “go to” for sanity and perspective. H.A. eventually concluded that embracing Canadian culture wasn’t a betrayal of her “other” self. She eventually chose to share parts of herself that might not be understood in order to invite mono-cultural friends into her multi-cultural brain space. Michele has a great article about this, too, called “MKs and Belonging” http://michelephoenix.com/2011/02/the-lies-mks-believe-ill-never-belong/.
Our youngest daughter also describes Michele’s website as a place of understanding — a place of familiarity. Of course not “home.” We all know how tricky “home” is for MKs!
So . . . I would highly recommend her MK articles for your college or high school-age MK!
*Missionary Kids – now more often lumped with TCKs (Third Culture Kids) because of shared characteristics. Michele tends to address MKs most specifically as a sub-set of that group.