Third Culture Stories podcast

by TCKs of Asia

Third Culture Stories draws out the hidden voices among those who live in the liminal in-between spaces of the third culture. There are many ways that we experience the third culture: for some it is the result of growing up internationally, while others experience it through education, cross-cultural marriages of their parents, migration, international adoption and so on. We are here to uncover what we share despite our differences. Recordings from our open forums are available on the podcast.

My home is within myself

Aiko Minematsu shares her story of being a 'former returnee student' with on the 'TCK Podcast', which features TCKs with connections to Japan. 今は英語講師の「元帰国子女」峰松愛子さんが 初田美紀子さん主催のサード・カルチャー・キッズを巡る「TCK Podcast 」のゲストとして海外育ちのあるあるを語りました

February 2020

Hidden Hierarchies in International Schools

Danau Tanu on Hidden Hierarchies in International Schools also with Sundae Bean. Why are the Indonesian kids sitting together in the cafeteria? Why are the Korean kids 'self-segregating'?


Unconscious Bias

Isabelle Min on the Unconscious Bias with Sundae Bean. When it comes to Third Culture Kids, who gets to sit with the cool kids?


Grief & Guilt Raising TCKs

Ruth Van Reken on Grief and Guilt Raising TCKs with Sundae Bean on the Expat Happy Hour, the top-rated podcast on iTunes Travel & Places and Thought Catalogue. What does Ruth mean when she says, "unpack your bags, plant your trees"?


'TCK Podcast' of 育ちネット多文化CROSS

'TCK podcast' features interviews (in Japanese) with 'Third Culture Kids' who have connections to Japan. It is run by Mikiko Hatsuda of Sodachi-net Tabunka CROSS which provides therapy sessions in English, Japanese and Chinese (Mandarin) in Tokyo. 英日中の3カ国語でのカウンセリングを東京にて提供している初田美紀子さんが立ち上げた育ちネット多文化 CROSS の 「TCK podcast」では日本と繋がりを持つ「サード・カルチャー・キッズ」を対象としたインタビューを載せています

Aiko Minematsu (left) with Ruth E. Van Reken (right), co-author of 'Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds'.

'My home is within myself'

An interview with Aiko Minematsu on 'TCK Podcast'

written/translated by Danau Tanu

Aiko Minematsu enrolled in seven elementary schools in Japan and the USA. Since returning to Japan, she has taught English to 'returnee students (kikokushijo)' for over 10 years. Her life goal is to empower Third Culture Kids (TCKs) in Japan through education. Aiko shares her story of being a 'former returnee student' with Mikiko Hatsuda on 'TCK Podcast', which features TCKs with connections to Japan. The original interview is in Japanese. This is a summary of the interview in English.

今は英語講師の「元帰国子女」峰松愛子さんが 初田美紀子さん主催のサード・カルチャー・キッズを巡る「TCK Podcast 」のゲストとなりました。「えっ、帰国子女なの?」と聞かれた時、「帰国子女」のレッテルを捨て今ではれっきとした日本人になったんだと主張するかのように「元」を強調しながら自分のことを「元帰国子女」と名乗っていた時期もあったそうです。本帰国後の成り行きや日本人になり切ろうと力んでいた大学時代、海外育ちのあるあるを語る峰松愛子さんの心を込めた話を聞いてあげて下さい!日本語でインタビューを直にお聞きしたい方はこちらへどうぞ。以下は英語でインタビューをまとめたものです。

Aiko Minematsu was born in Kobe and moved around quite a bit within Japan when she was very young. In the interview, Aiko says that the first 'cross cultural experience' she can remember was when she moved from urban Tokyo to Gunma, a mountainous prefecture in Japan. She remembers being confused during physical education class because, instead of saying north, east, south and so on to indicate directions, they would say the name of the surrounding mountains.

When she was in 2nd grade, Aiko left Japan for the United States with her family. She remembers it being difficult because she had to learn a new language and move schools even within the US. But once she got the hang of the language, she began enjoying herself. Aiko now feels she has been left with only great memories from that time in her life.

After several years, she moved back as a ‘returnee student (kikokushijo)’ to middle school in Japan. While she had initially struggled to express herself in Japanese upon her return, Aiko felt that by the time she entered university she had sufficiently acculturated and had ‘graduated’ from being a ‘returnee student’. Aiko spent her undergraduate days believing that she was now ‘fully Japanese’.

As she pursued her career as an English teacher, however, Aiko found herself being drawn to the new returnee students whom she was teaching. It was as though they were pulling on her heartstrings—one string at a time. This puzzled her. Aiko thought to herself, ‘I am supposed to be fully Japanese now, so why are these returnee students resonating with me?’

In her early 30s, Aiko finally became aware that there was something there that required her attention. When she began talking to her close friends about the unexpected reactions that she was having towards the returnee students, one of her friends said to her, ‘Why are you so hung up on trying to be Japanese?’ It caught her off guard. Aiko then wondered out loud to her other friends, ‘It seems like I’ve been trying to be Japanese all this time.’ To this they responded, ‘What are you talking about? We’ve been telling you this for a very long time!’ But she had not been able to hear them. Aiko felt as though she had been the emperor with no clothes – everyone except her had known what was going on with her. The revelation came as a shock. Aiko claims that that was when her journey in search for her identity began.

Now, several years on, the interviewer asks a final, deliberate question in English: ‘Where is your home?’ Aiko—also in English—responds, ‘My home is within myself.’ Aiko confesses, in Japanese, that she used to envy those who had a place to call ‘home’ and people to call ‘childhood friends’. Once she began reflecting on her story, she came to the realization that she did indeed have friends from her childhood—in Chicago—with whom she had long kept in touch as pen pals before the internet came around. She also realized that she didn’t have one home, but she had many. The many moves had made Aiko feel as though she was rootless because nothing seemed to have remained constant in her life. Yet, all these homes had one thing in common: herself.

As the interview ends, the interviewer, Mikiko Hatsuda, confides to the listeners that she had to hold back tears as Aiko relayed that last part of her ongoing TCK journey.