Andrew Youssef ’09: Exploring his third culture

“So what are your plans after graduation?”

In today’s environment that is more of a joke than an actual question. For the Class of 2009 it has been a tough job hunting season as many companies are trying to be lean and conservative. So the idea of adding new talent to their already fragile payrolls was the last thing on their mind.

Up until about 3 weeks ago, I had a great plan. I had interned with a large international investment bank the previous summer and this past fall they extended me an offer, amidst the economic turmoil that was happening in the financial markets. I was cruising through senior year, while others were stressing about their future. Even with my job security, I still wanted to interview with other companies, just to be safe. I did not want to graduate without having a plan or a place to go.

Andrew Youssef '09, picture 2May 23, 2009 marked the end of my college career. Four years at Elon also marked the longest place I had ever lived in my life. Until Elon, my lifestyle could have been characterized as nomadic. Before enrolling into the “Bubble” in the fall of 2005, I lived 9 different places and never lived in a place longer than 4 years.

Mission Viejo, California (2 years); Houston, Texas (1 year); Anaheim, California (2 years); The Woodlands, Texas (K-2nd Grade); Memphis, Tennessee (3rd -5th grade); Greensboro, North Carolina (1st semester 6th grade); Florence, Italy (Middle School); Waterloo, Belgium (High School); Dubai, United Arab Emirates (My family currently lives there); and Elon, North Carolina (College).

Unlike most International Students that enter Elon University with a thick accent and possessing a foreign passport, I was, what is now popularly known as, a “Third Culture Kid.” The phrase actually has its own Wikipedia page and has been studied by numerous sociologists. I didn’t even realize that this was a real thing until freshmen year and had a free writing session in my College Writing class with English Professor Anne Cassebaum. This idea was first introduced by sociologist Ruth Hill Useem in the 1960s. She described TCKs as someone who, as a child, has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture.” She goes on to say that, TCKs tend to have more in common with one another, regardless of nationality, than they do with non-TCKs from their own country. She made one conclusion that TCKs are unlikely to work for big business, government, or follow their parents’ career choices.  I was curious to see if I would end up like the typical TCK, if there was such a thing.

Andrew Youssef '09, picture 1So thus begs the question… “What will I do now that I have graduated from college?”


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