Accepted Papers:

The international school community and TCK mobility: a case study from Germany  


Heather Meyer (University of Southampton)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper uses an international school in Germany as an ethnographic case study to address the extent to which Third Culture Kids attending international schools experience mobility within their new host country of residence.

Paper long abstract:

The global network of international schools is set up to offer a support system to internationally-mobile families as they transition from one national context to the next. Third Culture Kids in attendance at such institutions are oftentimes branded as young 'Global Nomads' - suggesting an acquired chameleon-like ability to navigate foreign environments with relative ease and flexibility.

I examine the extent to which expatriate families within international school communities experience mobility within their new (host) country of residence. I argue that tensions emerge between the global orientation of the international school and its practice within its community of TCKs. Similar to other expatriate enclaves located across the globe, international schools tend to operate in relative isolation- establishing boundaries which are produced and reproduced to regulate the cultural influences stemming from the local environment of the host nation. While international schools have been known to generate cultures of their own, to which TCKs are encouraged to adjust post-relocation, it is worth questioning the extent to which these students have opportunities to establish social and emotional connections to the local environment outside of the institution and its community.

This paper uses an international school in Germany as an ethnographic case study to address these questions. The school facilitates a number of institutionalized intercultural excursions designed to expose its internationally-mobile community members to their host culture and society. However, the cultivation of dependency on the international school network for such exchanges can lead to hypomobility within the elite migratory experience.

Panel P096
Child migrants or 'third culture kids'? Approaches to children and privileged mobility (ANTHROMOB)