Cross-Cultural Kids – Part 5

What is a Cross-Cultural Kid?

A Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK) is someone who has been significantly influenced by two or more cultural environments during their developmental years. The CCK Model is the work and research of Ruth Van Reken.

Exploring 3 famous examples with their respective CCK types

Welcome to part 5 of the CULTURAL MOSAICS series where we closely look at the Cross-Cultural Kids (CCK) Model by Ruth Van Reken, analyzing each category more in depth, going well beyond the realm of Third Culture Kids, where it originated.

This CULTURAL MOSAICS series on Cross-Cultural Kids (CCKs) was originally posted on Instagram in September 2023 as a collaborative project by Beatriz Nour @inbetweenish.pod and myself, Wiebke Homborg @chameleon_coaching. If you have Instagram, we encourage you to check out the original posts for its great visuals, audios, reels and storytelling.

Cross-Cultural Kids

Did you know you can identify with several CCK types at once?

For example, an immigrant child whose parents are of different ethnicities, or a traditional TCK who later becomes a domestic TCK and an educational CCK. These examples reflect the growing complexities of our world, and we believe the CCK’s unique perspectives play an important role in solving the burning issues of our times.

For a general introduction to CCKs, check out part 1 of this blog post series.

For more details on each of the 12 CCK types, go to part 2, part 3 and part 4.

Unique experiences, benefits and challenges

Belonging to multiple categories of the CCK model offers many benefits. These CCKs often possess a cultural richness that stems from exposure to diverse customs and traditions, fostering cultural knowledge and sensitivity. Their adaptability shines as they comfortably navigate new cultural environments and quickly adjust to varying social norms. Proficiency in multiple languages also opens doors to international opportunities, and their well-rounded global perspective promotes open-mindedness and better cross-cultural relationships. The challenges they’ve faced contribute to resilience and problem-solving skills, both valuable assets in personal and professional life alike.

However, there are significant difficulties that come with this unique background. The complexity of identity formation is a common issue, as CCKs grapple with questions about where they truly belong and how to reconcile their multifaceted identity. Navigating multiple cultural contexts can lead to confusion and conflicts in values and behaviors, while full social integration can be elusive, causing feelings of detachment and sometimes loneliness. The pressure to conform to various expectations can be emotionally taxing, as can maintaining proficiency in multiple languages. Some CCKs may also struggle with feelings of rootlessness as a result of balancing different cultural contexts.

Identifying as a CCK offers a rich cultural experience but presents challenges in terms of identity, social integration, and cultural adaptation. Support and understanding from family, friends, and educators play a vital role in helping CCKs navigate and embrace the unique opportunities and complexities of their diverse cultural backgrounds.

Barack Hussein Obama, Former US President

  • Traditional TCK
  • Domestic TCK,
  • Educational CCK
  • Child of Mixed Heritage
  • Multicultural Child
  • Child of Marginalized Minorities


Barack Obama’s father was an exchange student from Kenya and his American mother was from Kansas. He was born in Hawaii and spent most of his childhood between Hawaii and Chicago. At some point he lived in Jakarta, Indonesia with his mother and Indonesian stepfather. He has an Indonesian/American half-sister. Later he moved back to Hawaii to live with his American grandparents.

Esther Perel, Psychotherapist

  • Child of Immigrants
  • Child of Marginalized Minorities
  • Child of Refugees

Esther Perel was born and raised in Antwerp, in the Flemish part of Belgium. She is the daughter of two Polish, Jewish Holocaust survivors. Given her diverse cultural upbringing she started juggling 5 languages at home: Polish, Yiddish, German, Dutch, and French. Today she speaks 9 languages.

Keanu Reeves, Actor and Musician

  • Traditional TCK
  • Domestic TCK
  • Child of Immigrants
  • Child of Mixed Heritage
  • Bicultural Child
  • Child of Marginalized Minorities

Keanu Reeves was born in Beirut, Lebanon. His mother is English, and his American father is from Hawaii. His father is of native Hawaiian, Chinese, English, Irish, and Portuguese descent. His paternal grandmother is Chinese Hawaiian. After his parents divorced, his mother moved the family to Sydney, Australia. Followed by a move to New York, USA, where she married Paul Aaron. Later the couple and family moved to Toronto, Canada.

There are so many ways someone can exist across different cultures.

In our Cultural Mosaics series, we outlined 12 CCK types.

One of the reasons it can be so hard to navigate different contexts as a cross-cultural kid, is because often times we don’t even realize we’re doing it, we don’t always have the language for it, and we have very little resources to help us understand our complex and evolving identities.

It’s fair to say most, if not all, CCKs have struggle with questions of belonging, finding home, understanding their roots and where you come from.

Certain life experiences tend to catapult us into identity crisis: losing a loved one, becoming a parent, ceremonies around marriage or divorce. Just so many big life moments.

Being a CCK is beautifully complex, you’re building cultural bridges, understanding how nuanced things can be, but also being more comfortable with ambiguousness, and dealing with hidden losses, often times on your own.

🌎💙 It has been a labor of love to research, discuss, design, write, post, laugh and cry together. Our collaboration across cultures was so inspiring and fruitful that we feel empowered to bring our work to the next level. We hope you learned something new, and that this series helped you make sense of the unique cultural mosaics that you embody. 

We leave you with this message, talk about your experience. With others who may relate, with family, with friends, with a coach. Talking it out helps us makes sense of the unique cultural mosaics that we embody. 

Hi, I’m Beatriz, the host of the inbetweenish pod, where I invite others to reflect on the meaning of belonging, the feeling of home, and I ask questions like, do you ever feel stuck between worlds?

And I’m Wiebke, from Chameleon Coaching. As an intercultural trainer and coach, I am passionate about supporting and empowering individuals on their journeys across cultures.

Stories of Belonging

Tune into Beatriz’ podcast where she invites inspiring and diverse CCKs to a deep and heartfelt conversation. Discover new perspectives and learn from their stories around identity struggles as well as their quest for belonging and defining where home is.

Explore your multicultural identity with me

I have supported many CCKs and global nomads on their inner journey to more clarity about their multicultural identity. Let me help you embrace your inner diversity and find true belonging within yourself and with others.

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