Eileen Gu — also known by her Chinese name as Gu Ailing 谷爱凌 — is a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
Gu was born and grew up in the United States. She often spent summers visiting the country where her mother is from, China.
Gu is fluent in English and Mandarin Chinese.
Due to her global background, Gu has stated “I definitely feel as though I am just as American as I am Chinese. I'm American when I'm in the U.S. and I'm Chinese when I'm in China.”
“I definitely feel as though I am just as American as I am Chinese. I'm American when I'm in the U.S. and I'm Chinese when I'm in China.”
- Eileen Gu
Moreover, because of her connection to the two countries, Gu often describes how she sees herself — and sports in general — as a bridge between different cultures.
“I have always said that sports are this unique avenue to global communication, to interconnection, and to kind of building those bridges, and it is this microcosm
that really gives me hope for society at large.”
In many ways, Gu exemplifies traits of Third Culture Kids. A TCK is a child whose identity is influenced by their parents' culture(s) and the culture in which they are raised.
Traits of TCKs include:
Being able to speak more than 1 language
Having a broader world view
Being more culturally aware
Feeling a sense of rootlessness and restlessness because home can be both everywhere and nowhere.
As the world becomes more and more globalized, expat adults who spend years abroad may define themselves as Third Culture Adults.
In general, Third Culture Individuals (ie. TCKs and TCAs) tend to develop “cultural homelessness” which is confusion over one’s identity.
Research indicates that most TCIs were not really taught how to deal with the grief and loss that inevitably comes with moving countries. Moreover, many TCIs feel they don’t have someone to confide in.
The good news is that nowadays, there are more resources than ever before for TCIs. According to the BBC, in the past 2 decades, “schools have beefed up counselling services and increasingly provide assistance to children from the time they arrive to the time they leave.”
As a TCI who has lived abroad for almost 10 years, I understand the challenges TCIs face. As a counsellor, I specialize in helping TCIs overcome their anxieties to thrive and fulfill their potential.
People with international backgrounds, like Eileen Gu, can learn to use their global skillsets to thrive and to foster greater connection.
If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.