How does working with TCKs apply to youth work “at home”?

17 Jun

Nathaniel is a youth worker from  Australia. In this guest post he compares working with TCKs in Cambodia with the work he does with 1st/2nd generation immigrant youth in Sydney.

A bit about me

I am an Australian-Born Chinese (ABC) living in Sydney, Australia. My parents migrated from Hong Kong, to England, then to Australia shortly before I was born.

A bit about my Youth Group

Two years ago, our youth group consisted of around 3 youth. Over the past two years, we have grown to a consistent 25-30. It is multi-ethnic, and a mix of Christian and non-christian (30-40%). The youth are a mix of migrant, first-generation and second-generation Australian youth. Our youth group is located in Sydney’s south, which is heavily dominated by immigrant families. The youth group is made up of youth from year 6-12, and they all get on extremely well – not often seen at many youth groups. They are an absolute joy to serve, lots of fun to hang out with, and I love them heaps and thank God for the amazing depth and rate of change in so many of their lives.

Cambodia vs Australia

I had the opportunity to spend two months in Cambodia doing a variety of work, which included working with the expat youth groups, Cross Culture and Solar. Tanya and Christina introduced me to the term “TCK”, and the awareness of their characteristics and needs has helped immensely due the cultural diversity present in my own youth group in Sydney.

Some differences I noticed between the two groups:

TCKs in Cambodia

  • Engaged much more readily i.e. were quite comfortable speaking to people older and in a different life stage to them.
  • Much more aware of cultural differences and how that made them different (whereas youth in Sydney would be aware of cultural differences, but less aware of how that affected how they interacted with the world around them)
  • Switch from acting very mature -> immature, extremely quickly
  • Friendships tend to develop much, much quicker
  • Quirkiness if accepted more readily, if not encouraged. Often helps groups to bond.
  • Greater appreciation and commitment to friendships

There was significant overlaps between the similarities. However, they were often more pronounced and noticeable in the TCKs in Cambodia, which made it helpful for me to identify and realise how important they were.

Similarities with Sydney youth:

  • Will open up to a leader if they know that leader cares and wants to invest in their lives
  • Looking for a place and people to belong to
  • Want someone who will accept them for who they are, but at the same time still encourage growth and development

Since coming back from Cambodia, I’ve really tried to be intentional about:

  • Spending as much informal time with the youth as you can. i.e. time where you both don’t have to be there, but choose to be. This can be the time before or after youth group/church, informal gatherings, optional events, lunch together, etc. Some of the most valuable conversations happen not during events such as talks etc, but the time before and after when they are processing ideas and issues.
  • Asking lots of questions – Find out about their friends, family, culture, country, what questions they have about anything at all. Connect them to places where they can start to address those concerns.
  • Investing in a few – The greater the diversity of the youth group, the more time and effort will be needed in getting to know individuals and how to help them grow. But the great thing is, that if you start to do that, then they start to invest in other youth as well.
  • Cultivating creativity and talents – Not just so they can go “serve” (though they might). Not just so they can play in church (even though that’s a great thing). But because God has made them in His Image and made them with interests, passions and talents and helping them to develop them because those things are good things in and of themselves and are ways for them to express themselves in a very positive way.

After meeting TCKs and TCK workers in Cambodia, it really became apparent to me that the TCK ministry is going to be increasingly important in the future due to the rapid pace of globalisation. So I’d like to say thankyou to all TCKs, people who work with TCKs, and networks such as YiA – it’s a tremendous resource and look into how the Church will continue to serve and reach global cities in the future with the good news of Jesus Christ.


1 Comment

Posted by on June 17, 2011 in Guest Posts, Leading Youth, TCKs


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One response to “How does working with TCKs apply to youth work “at home”?

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