Growing Up a TCK: Third Culture Kid
Naomi Wakiaga is a rising senior at the University of Delaware, majoring in Economics with a minor in Fashion History & Culture. Outside of the United States, she has lived in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, in addition to traveling to France, Spain, and Dubai. Naomi is currently in Kenya doing product development and marketing for an African-inspired women’s shoe brand. Upon graduation, she hopes to get a Master’s degree in Economics or Global Business. Thereafter, she endeavors to embark in a career in the luxury fashion industry or work in the United Nations Ethical Fashion Initiative.
Growing Up a TCK: Third Culture Kid
I grew up a TCK, a Third Culture Kid. A TCK is a child whose lives in and out of foreign countries around the world; we’re born in one culture but raised in different ones for a significant part of our lives. In my case, I was born in Kenya, but I grew up in the United States and in between I lived in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. I’ve also travelled to Paris, Barcelona, and Dubai. With a dad who works in an international organization, growing up meant traveling and living in different countries other than my country of birth. This has enriched my life experiences, posing both challenges and blessings, making me who I am.
With each new country I’ve had the honor to live in, I’ve faced moments of culture shock and loneliness. Having to learn the culture and make new friends can be difficult at times. However, I learned to constantly evolve and adjust no matter what new setting I’m in. This has given me a resilient spirit, and allowed me to boldly face challenges and embrace new experiences. I’m now more confident and fearless in any environment.
The young woman I am today has been shaped by all the travelling experiences I’ve had and the different cultures I’ve been exposed to. Everyday I draw upon my global experiences, especially now that I’m in college. I am a rising senior at the University of Delaware, majoring in Economics with a minor in Fashion History & Culture. My love for fashion and my experiences living abroad are what pushed me to do a fashion program in Paris this year (2015). I studied the luxury fashion market in France as a student and worked for various fashion designers during Paris Fashion Week. Once again I was outside my comfort zone, living in an apartment in a new city and having to find my way around. Even though I spoke French, I was an outsider in a culture that was new to me. In particular, I noticed there were not as many people who looked like me at Paris Fashion Week. Finding myself in this environment strengthened my resolve to do my best. I told myself I was as good if not better than anyone else there, and that I deserved to be there and had a contribution to make. I realized once again, I was able to adapt and grow. This experience pushed me to be more ambitious and not limit my potential. It also led to my current internship.
Currently, I’m in Kenya doing product development and marketing for an African-inspired women’s shoe brand that’s trying to expand globally. I’m contributing to the growth of the brand and establishing it as a sustainable brand. I’m also learning about a different fashion market and retail culture by studying the African fashion market.
I've been fortunate enough to have global experiences in my budding career that I don’t take for granted. I encourage everyone to experience life and work abroad. Do not be afraid to open yourself to the world because the opportunities are endless and the life lessons are priceless.
Looking forward, I want to get my Master’s in Economics or Global Business. I hope to have a career in the luxury fashion industry or work in the United Nations Ethical Fashion Initiative. Thus, I am developing my career from a global perspective- the influence of my international experiences as a TCK. Wherever my career and life experiences will take me, I am always ready.