Panel Highlight: The Zig-Zag Path of a Third Culture Kid (TCK)

02 Mar 2017 12:12 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

The Families In Global Transition (FIGT) 2017 Conference in The Hague has various sessions and activities throughout the event that caters to all types of learning styles. From keynote speakers, to panels, to Ignite sessions, to networking in the hallways — there is a little bit of something for everyone. Panels are great because you get multiple experts in one room, at one time, talking about a large encompassing topic. Tapping into various perspectives helps to see different sides of a topic or issue. Panels tend to be thought-provoking and also provide a wonderful chance to pose questions to many experts at once. 

The FIGT Annual Conference Saturday Panel - Finding Your Niche: Connecting a Multicultural Past to a Meaningful Present includes TCKs from Education, Humanitarian Aid, Health Care, and Communications disciplines. Please join Marilyn Gardner, Kilian Kröll, and Cliff Gardner for their panel as they share about their zig-zag journeys to finding their niche. Learn more about the panel and the presenters below. 

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SATURDAY PANEL - March 25, 2017 | 3:10-4:10 pm

Finding Your Niche: Connecting a Multicultural Past to a Meaningful Present Led by Marilyn Gardner, Kilian Kröll, and Cliff Gardner

It has long been understood that third culture kids develop invisible skills in their multicultural habitats. When TCKs become adults they face the challenge of connecting those invisible skills to a visible occupation. This becomes their journeying reality and each journey is unique. While one TCK may end up a diplomat, another may live on a farm in Germany milking goats and living off the land. Both have found their niche. 

In this session, we will listen to a panel of adult third culture kids as they recount how they found meaningful jobs and vocations that connected their past to their present. The two panelists and facilitator represent distinct disciplines – Education, Humanitarian Aid, Communications, and Health Care. While the session will begin with our panelists responding to specific questions, we will leave time for participants to both ask and respond to questions.


Marilyn Gardner is an adult third culture kid who grew up in Pakistan, then lived as an adult in Pakistan and Egypt. She birthed five kids on three continents, and went on to raise them in Pakistan and Egypt before moving to the United States. She currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts working as a Public Health Nurse with underserved populations. Her first book, Between Worlds: Essays on Culture & Belonging, came out in July 2014. Her writing also appears in the book What a Woman is Worth, Among Worlds Magazine, and A Life Overseas.


The idea for the panel originated with a blog series that Marilyn did on her personal blog called "Finding Your Niche." Marilyn invited Adult TCKs to send in essays on how they found their niche in whatever sphere they were working. The result was a great set of essays from ATCKs who were in education, health care, writers, paralegals, and a number of other areas.  

The original post is here:

Here is one of Marilyn's favorite from the series — but they are all good and different. 

Finding my Niche - An Oxymoron by Cindy Brandt:

Here is a re-cap on the "Finding you Niche" Series:


Kilian Kröll comes from a multicultural family of artists and teachers in four countries, who inspire him to use his cross-cultural understanding to help others grow and succeed. He received a BA in English & Queer Studies from Haverford College and an MA in Cultural Studies from the University of East London. He is an iPEC-accredited Certified Professional Coach as well as an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner. Lilian was President of Families in Global Transition from 2014 - 2016.


Killian’s current place of work, The American International School Vienna.

Killian’s  #FIGT16NL opening & closing remarks on the FIGT blog.


Cliff Gardner is currently the Senior Administrative Manager of Research in the Division of Nephrology at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Prior to this position, he was the Administrative Officer for the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University from 2007-2011. He has over thirty years of experience living, working and traveling throughout the Middle East and South Asia. He and his wife, Marilyn, have five children born on three continents. 


Thanks Marilyn, Killian, and Cliff for all your contributions to the community. We look forward to meeting you and hearing your panel presentation in March! 

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