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Celebrating Cross-cultural Perspectives

When I discovered the term TCK in high school, I couldn’t be happier to find this group that I could call home. Right about this time, I had just moved back to the States from Spain, where I had lived for the past three years. It was the longest I had ever been at the same school or lived in the same house. I attended an American international school and when Spanish kids asked where I was from I could answer easily: I was Jamaican-American. Years later, however, when I landed back in the States, I observed that what had once seemed an easy answer was only an illusion.

Fast forward, four years later, to yet another series of moves and another school; this time it was college. (I somehow managed to end up in a weird place where I lived in one state but went to college in another?)

The university I attended in New York was one of the most culturally diverse in the country, but the field I had majored in — graphic design — was otherwise. For the second time, I understood what it was like to feel culturally alienated. To cope, I tried hard to observe and blend in — a trick that had helped me to adapt well overseas but seemed to have the opposite effect in my own country. It took until nearly the end of four years before I found the term TCK again in my senior design class. For the first time, we as students were given the opportunity to research a topic of our interest and design a semester project around it. Reconnecting with TCK issues, I knew I wanted to create a series of illustrations that would better illustrate our narratives.

The load of research terms and academic essays simply weren’t enough. Much to my surprise, the illustrations were instrumental in getting my fellow (non-TCK) classmates to understand the experience — it even made it exciting!

Photo by Aliyah N. Campbell

Two years later, I have adapted my initial designs into an artist zine that I have begun selling in stores and to libraries. No more blending in. It’s about time we start celebrating cross-cultural perspectives!

By Aliyah N. Campbell

Visit to learn more. Additionally, Aliyah is happy to share her illustrations for educational use — just ask!

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