Religion Magazine

Amphibians, Chameleons, and Cross Cultural Kids

By Marilyngardner5 @marilyngard
Amphibians, Chameleons, and Cross Cultural Kids

"But those people who are fishes out of water were often the most vibrant ones in the room. I've begun to recognize a social type, the Amphibians - people who can thrive in radically different environments." David Brooks "The Rise of the Amphibians"

In a recent article in the New York Times, David Brooks writes about interviewing millennials. In all of the interviews he conducted there seemed to emerge a certain type of millennial, one that he calls the "amphibian". According to him, these amphibians look beyond surface labels and across cultural identities. They seek to understand those who think differently. Their goal is not necessarily to agree, but to find common ground in disagreement.

As I was reading I realized that this is the concept of the cross cultural kid or CCK that Ruth Van Reken and Michael Pollock talk about in the 3rd edition of the TCK book.

Cross cultural kids don't necessarily grow up in a different country. Rather, they are often raised in a subculture of their passport country. So it could be the southern kid who moves to the East coast and navigates the north-south cultural tension. Or it could be the kid from Navajo nation who is daily bussed to a school off the reservation in a suburban area. It could also be a kid who is raised in a faith-based subculture and homeschooled but navigates cultural differences between her home and life in a non faith-based university. There are many examples of kids who grow up understanding and navigating cultural differences. To be sure, third culture kids are a strong subset of cross cultural kids, and the literature and research on them is invaluable, but they aren't the only ones who navigate cultural differences.

Cross cultural kids naturally seek to see beyond divisive labels. They seek common ground and try to understand the other side, no matter what that side is. They understand that each of us has a story, and that those stories have shaped us.

They are often called chameleons and accused of not knowing who they are. But knowing who you are and obnoxiously making sure your values and views are the loudest in the room are vastly different. Living and navigating effectively across cultures takes cultural humility and the ability to listen well, something that cross cultural kids have to learn early in life.

Cross cultural kids can be active negotiators - taking both sides of a story and finding space for agreement. It can be a lonely space, but it's a vital one.

As I think about our world today, I feel tired. The level of incivility in Western societies and the amount of cyber bullying by grown ups is appalling. If you disagree with someone who is conservative, you're quickly termed a liberal. If you disagree with someone who is liberal, you are emphatically called intolerant. I know- because I've been called both. We are desperately in need of of amphibians, chameleons, and cross cultural kids. Without them, we're in deep trouble.

"The Amphibians' lives teach us that backgrounds are more complicated than simple class- or race-conflict stories. Their lives demonstrate that society is not a battlefield but a jungle with unexpected connections and migrations. Their lives teach that what matters is what you do with your background, the viewpoints you construct by combining viewpoints. Their lives are examples of the power of love to slice through tribal identity."

The Rise of the Amphibians

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Practicing Empathy

    Embed from Getty ImagesBrené Brown is a researcher who has specialized in studying shame for most of her career. Her recent book, I Thought It Was Just Me (but... Read more

    9 hours, 16 minutes ago by   Candacemoody
  • Chilli Update

    Chilli Update

    You might recall that about a month ago I sowed seeds of 20 different varieties of chilli. They germinated at different rates, keeping me guessing (and... Read more

    10 hours, 7 minutes ago by   Mwillis
  • Sophie & Scotts Wedding at Athelhampton House

    Sophie Scotts Wedding Athelhampton House

    Athelhampton House Wedding Athelhampton House weddings are regular features scattered throughout our diary. A familiar venue that keeps giving fresh imagery as ... Read more

    10 hours, 17 minutes ago by   Linusm
  • "I Am Worth More Than My Self Doubt"

    Worth More Than Self Doubt"

    Top of the Monday morning to you! We're finally back in Atlanta today after getting in early yesterday, grabbing the kids and then running home, unpacking, had ... Read more

    10 hours, 24 minutes ago by   Cait
  • Signs of the Times

    Signs Times

    America’s phallic affair with guns should give us pause to wonder what the true motivation is. My wife sent me an NPR story on the World Peace and Unification... Read more

    13 hours, 1 minute ago by   Steveawiggins
  • Heart Valve Replacement: How to Prepare

    Heart Valve Replacement: Prepare

    Overview Before you undergoe the heart replacement surgery to replace a heart valve, you will need to prepare for your hospital stay. Read more

    13 hours, 33 minutes ago by   Allyson3james
  • Blood and Tourism in Kashmir

    The previous summer, amid an overnight transport trip from New Delhi to Srinagar—the mid-year capital of the Indian-controlled condition of Jammu and Kashmir—I... Read more

    13 hours, 40 minutes ago by   Amar Rana