Thriving Thursdays Third Culture Kids: Beyond and Between Borders with Annelie Wambeek

One of the biggest advantages of being a Third Culture Kid is having exposure to different cultures and people, which enhances your intercultural awareness, communication, adaptation, and language skills. Due to globalization, people become more interconnected, companies collaborate in trade and partnerships, and workforces become more diverse, which increases the demand for effective intercultural sensitivity training.

Managers face obstacles leading their diverse teams, and employees get into conflicts and misunderstandings due to cultural and language barriers. For such situations, an intercultural specialist and consultant are required to train and coach managers, employees, and companies who want to engage in cross-cultural exchange. Annelie Wambeek, an intercultural specialist, is determined to use her upbringing as a Third Culture Kid to support diverse and internationally facing companies.

From Gypsy, Global Citizen, and TCK to Intercultural Specialist

Annelie is part Sri Lankan and part English, but was born in Sweden. Due to her parents’ profession, her family moved around the world a lot when she was still young. She spent part of her life in Spain, Indian Kashmir, Sweden, and Sri Lanka, and now has settled down in Amsterdam. For Annelie, it was the norm to move places. Only when she attended an international school in Sri Lanka, did she realize that she was part of a community. Later in high school, she was introduced to the term TCK for the first. Yet, she was unsure if she also belonged to this unique group due to her race. For Annelie, it was uncommon for people of color to be part of Third Culture Kids. However, once she attended university, she realized how big and diverse this community was.

According to Annelie, no matter how foreign Third Culture Kids are, everyone shares the same experience and knowledge with which you build a connection and a strong bond. As an adult, she further honed her understanding of cultures through academic studies and sociology, cultural studies, international relations, as well as a career in the NGO sector and multinational corporations. Annelie decided to become an intercultural trainer and speaker when she realized that her upbringing as a TCK could benefit diverse and internationally facing companies. She has been called many things from gypsy, global citizen, TCK, and now to an intercultural specialist.

Path as a POC and TCK

When Annelie moved to Sri Lanka, she did not consider herself Sri Lankan nor being a part of people of colour due to her Swedish and English background. As a result, the intercultural specialist developed identity issues. She did not associate herself with the POC community until she was much older. When she got familiar with the term TCK, she believed that being part of this community is only something that a certain race is granted. She never heard of people of colour associating with this term, hence, her path to finding her identity as a TCK was very complicated. Later she discovered that TCK has no limitations. It is not limited to any race, ethnicity, or culture. It is a community that connects diverse people, who were fortunate to experience the beauty of different cultures from an early age. 

Burnout, Identity Issues, and Career Trajectory

Upon completing her studies in England, Annelie moved back to Sri Lanka at the age of 22 by herself, where she worked in a local organization. For the first time, she felt connected with the people who were born and raised there, which is how she got closer to the culture and its language. Her connection to Sri Lanka grew, but she never fully belonged there. She acknowledged that country as one of her homes, which is something that all TCKs relate to.

One downside, that many TCKs also greatly associate with is the identity issues. For Annelie, it is a very important topic that she dealt with in the last few years including with the support of professionals. Her turning point was two years ago when she was diagnosed with burnout. Due to this condition, she spent almost a year being off work. However, this period granted her the opportunity to reflect on her life choices, desires, and career. She realized throughout her professional path, whether it was in foreign policy, communication, or financial institutions, that she always worked with international networks as a bridge between cultures. Thus, she decided to establish her own company and apply her intercultural awareness skills for the benefit of organizations and people.

Conclusion

According to the intercultural specialist, it is a privilege to grow up as a TCK. It is an invaluable experience to travel the world, explore new places, and meet diverse people. Annelie turned her adventure as a TCK and her passion for cultures into a skill with which she can provide support to many others.

Cultural differences should not separate us from each other, but rather cultural diversity brings a collective strength that can benefit all of humanity. – Robert Alan

Final Words:

SIETAR Austria and Raw Culture greatly appreciate and want to express gratitude to Annelie Wambeek for participating in this journey of spreading awareness of TCK and sharing her personal experience which will greatly help other TCKs. 

You can find more information about Annelie Wambeek’s company at:

https://www.anneliewambeek.com/services

Furthermore, we are grateful to Weirong Li, founder, and CEO of Raw Culture, for working to increase the value of diverse cultures.


References and Sources:

YouTube Link to Expert Talk with Annelie Wambeek:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhmtccwf6E4

Information about Raw Culture’s Community for TCKs: 

https://links.geneva.com/invite/2b89c652-9173-4be3-9435-23db919da91c

Get early access to Raw Culture’s TCK job platform here:

https://bit.ly/3iImXXg

Link of cover image:

https://i0.wp.com/www.theoxfordblue.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/5007869_orig.png?resize=570%2C491&ssl=1

Zalina Alieva

Zalina Alieva

My diverse background, passion for unique cultures, and languages inspired me to become an international manager. Throughout my studies and work experience, I have obtained expertise in leading, collaborating and communicating across borders with intercultural and monocultural teams in various projects in person as well as within the virtual and blended environment.

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