Welcome to the first issue of Multicultureland—if you are reading this then we definitely already know each other and I really appreciate you. Thanks for subscribing and following my journey! This week I introduce 'modern identity' by sharing my background as a TCK. I hope this post will open up some thoughts, questions or curiosities in people. If you want to share yours reply to this email :)
Welcome on board, thank you for joining us on Flight 85244886 to Multicultureland and I am your pilot today. My name is Beccy Lee. Yin-Chou is my Chinese name. My parents are from Taiwan and I was born and raised in UK and HK.
I lived the first seven years of my life in leafy Surrey, England, and then we moved to the sprawling metropolis of Hong Kong where I spent my most formative years growing up as a teenage "rebel".
I attended an international school run by expats, speaking in English and learning the British school curriculum (i.e. GCSE, A-Level). My classmates came from all over the world: UK, HK, India, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Australia... and my family spent most summers travelling across Southeast Asia to China, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Korea etc. Most importantly, I witnessed a lot of poverty first-hand and this had a profound and humbling effect on my outlook of the world.
I was paradoxically raised in Western culture whilst living in Eastern culture due to being part of the 'expat bubble'. I grew up in a household where the preferred language was English and not Chinese. I learned enough Mandarin to respond to my Mother’s domestic instruction: kuai lai! gan ma? wei sheh meh? I learned enough Cantonese to get by with daily life in Hong Kong: mm gwy? doorh jeh! mo yee cee. And my distanced Taiwanese relatives are giants who speak native Hokkien*: dew ah, dew ah, ji neng saa shi. Sometimes people think I’m mixed-race because of my physical appearance and British accent.
I went to university in the UK and established my career in the West. By chance I found myself back in leafy Surrey not far from the house I grew up in as a child. I’ve had three British boyfriends of West Country, Egyptian and South African upbringing. My Mandarin has improved since spending a year working in China as an adult. I hold a mixture of Eastern and Western values, outwardly displayed as Western but my inner Eastern intuitions are held with reverence. I make fusion food. I choose sharing plates over individual plates. Strangers are welcome in my home but they are forbidden to wear shoes inside. Make of it what you will, I have three passports on paper but my real passport is invisible—
Welcome to Multicultureland.
Crew, seat belts fastened and ready for takeoff.
Beccy Lee xx
Third Culture Kid 🇭🇰 🇬🇧 🇹🇼
*In case you’re wondering, Cantonese (HK), Mandarin (China) and Hokkien (Taiwan) are all Chinese dialects. It’s written the same, but unlike UK and US English, spoken entirely differently.
Multicultureland is a weekly newsletter written by Beccy Lee about modern identities, dedicated to helping you become who you are. Beccy is a Third Culture Kid and Occupational Psychologist specialising in culture & personality.
“Who Am I?” is a deeply introspective question that we all ask at some point in our lives. This newsletter is for people like me who are keen to figure it out. I believe we all have hidden stories to uncover that have the power to transform us and our relationships.
Multicultureland aims to educate and entertain readers—Beccy writes personal stories, shares lessons and exercises that she has found helpful for self-discovery and personal development. Where social science meets wisdom, Beccy is a 'psychologist on a mission' to raise the collective unconscious in the modern world.