Third Culture Kids

Building Relationships to All Cultures

Mercy Ships acknowledges that the children who live on our ships become Third Culture Kids (TCKs). The expert on TCKs is American sociologist David Pollock, who says that a TCK is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture.

The TCK builds relationships to all cultures, while not having full ownership of any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, they feel a sense of belonging to others with the same background. Mercy Ships is committed to helping support our TCKs with their unique gifts and challenges.

Common TCK Strengths:

Versatile in languages

More mature than their peers

Excellent observers

Open to learning

Adaptive in any location

Valuable in multinational situations


Have typically seen God at work in special ways

Common TCK Challenges:

Adjustment, frustration, and loneliness

Confused sense of belonging

Confused loyalties

Painful awareness of reality

Ignorance of home culture

Difficulty dealing with people