I happen to be a very lucky person because I get to work daily with an amazing group of parents. An increasing number of children are being raised in foreign countries as their parents are being sent abroad by their businesses or government agencies or they are people who want to see the world. These are the people I work with.
I get hired by schools, PTAs and organizations to talk about transitions, what we can do to help our children in this global lifestyle and how to work within a school system to get the best for everyone. Of course, each venue is different and the participants can vary a lot.
Number of Moves per Family
Here is a snapshot at one group at a presentation.
The majority of these parents were already on their 4th or 5th move. One family had already completed 7 moves. Two of the parents in this group were from the host country and had not moved, yet.
The Importance of the Host Country
When I conducted a small parent workshop in Indonesia, we had a very interesting group of parents. Many of them had lived in a variety of places. Here is that snap shot of what they said when I asked them to list the countries that they had lived in longer than four months. These countries came up, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Dubai, Egypt, France, Holland, India, Ireland, Libya, New Zealand, Oman, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, The Netherlands, the UAE, and Venezuela.
The following countries had 2 participants having lived in them, Australia, Azerbaijan, Japan, Kuwait, South Korea, USA, and Viet Nam. The only common countries with four people living in each country were England and Scotland. The only country with double digits was our host country of Indonesia with eighteen people in this group currently living here.
The Importance of Language Ability
I only conduct my talks in English but my parents in one presentation spoke these languages, Afrikaans, Dutch, English, French, Gaelic, Gujarati, Hindi, Indonesian, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese. It was an excellent time to stress the need for multiple languages.
Many TCKs also face challenges that unfortunately manifest themselves professionally. Many TCKs are schooled in educational systems that do not translate in their passport countries. A Korean student, who received her education in English while living in Malawi and Kenya, may not perform well at a university in Korea, where she needs to write papers and give oral presentations in Korean.
As a result, her professional opportunities in Korea will not be as wide as those for another Korean student who had been raised in the Korean educational system. This challenge is especially pronounced for TCKs who wish to pursue skilled professions such as medicine and law in their passport countries. Because of their highly specialized terminology, education and proficiency in the language of the passport country is essential for success. Unless TCKs receive supplemental education in these languages, they may miss out on opportunities in these areas.
When I do a workshop on transitions, I feel it is important to understand where the parents might be in their transition cycle. Here is a typical snapshot of length of time in a general location. Of course, certain companies use different guidelines on what is ‘normal’ for their employees. This holds true to missionaries, military and other global nomad norms.
About Julia –
As an educator, speaker, author and consultant, Julia has a gold-medal global perspective on children and parenting. Parents look to her for guidance because she has raised her own two children overseas while worrying about schools, medical conditions, friendships and loss of extended family contact. She and her family have navigated nine international relocations, which has provided her the opportunity to work with over 8,000 families on five continents. It’s helped her understand the similarities of emotions children share around the globe. She has personally gazed into the eyes of young children from around the world and helped them successfully transition into their new environment. She is the expert on emotional resilience and the expat child.