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Summer Connections are Priceless – Expats thrive with connections

Summer time is always fun!  Who can pass up the newest Disney princess? When we were going on our southern California college tour, we ended up in Disneyland. Until you go on a road trip with me, you do not know what this type of travel involves. I often say “We may never be this close again”….and away we go. Remember, I am usually living in places like Thailand, Nigeria or Australia and getting to our USA home is ‘an awful long trip’. My USA travel is often ….. 7,900 miles Bangkok to Reno – Lagos to Reno is 7,600 miles and Perth to Reno is 9,300 miles.

What I am trying to say when I get behind the wheel of a car…any road trip under four digits for travel seems short. The worse thing is I ‘agree’ to go and think it is a good idea. I fact I encourage it! You will hear me say ” You may never know when we will get this close again.”

I did have to wonder why Grant and I stood in line for a while in Disneyland. We thought we were in the “pizza line” but we were on the line to get our photo and autograph with Rapunzel. “What!” I said after a few minutes and the reality of where we were standing sunk in…I don’t think Grant would stand in line for Mandy Moore let alone a dressed-up Rapunzel to get her autograph. I knew I didn’t want either one.  We moved on to the food line.

Summertime has always been a time to connect with my family. We connect back to Incline Village as “home”. We connect back to Kansas as “home”. We connect back to extended family. We become part of a greater community.

Are you connected?

I hope all expats connect this summer. I hope all people connect…we just need to try harder. Sometimes it takes a long trip to connect!

Speaking of a long trip, years and years ago, I would spend summer time in Russell Springs, Kansas. My next door neighbor was an old lady that had a grandson my age. All summer long, Dwayne and I would play, eat ice-pops and keep each other busy.

julia and dink
We even celebrated a birthday party together!

One day my dad came home from work and asked Dwayne how the day had been. All day long, Dwayne and I had been using the propane tank as if it was a horse taking us to a far away land. I still remember Dwayne responding “It was a long, long trip”.

Our Traveling Horse - Kansas SummerMy Dad laughed for hours.

This summer I was lucky enough to go to my High School reunion (40th) and yes!  I did run into Dwayne.  I think I traveled the longest distance to get there.  Borneo to Winona, Kansas! (8,900 miles)  I am always amazed how sometimes the people who live the closest can’t seem to make a reunion but the ones far away – can.

Raising global nomads brings a new twist into this story. Will our children travel again back to their High Schools?  Will they look forward to going back to the location that was there “home” for a few years?  My children were able to spend all four years of high school in their same location. These high schools were 5,600 miles apart from each other and yet I felt a part of each of their High School years.  Moving with kids is always interesting, and that is why it is important for global families to be actively involved in each and every location.

Take the time to make connections. Help your children build connections to the community. Help them want to return to the location forty years later.

40th reunion Dwayne and Julia

Dwayne and Julia at 40th Reunion

As an expat mom, you might spend time waiting around the school while your child attends events or practices.  Here are a list of some of my favorite stories to read as you are waiting. They also make a great summer reading list for expats:

  • To the Lighthouse, By Virginia Woolf

    The children, husband, and guests are all effortlessly entertained by Mrs. Ramsay. Time passes, and we revisit the house, but it’s empty and left open to the elements. Losses have been suffered that could not have been foreseen in the idyllic days documented in the first section. To the Lighthouse captures the agony of loss contained in growing up, and reminds us all, hopefully, to be grateful for the blessings we may often overlook when we’re feeling young and invincible.

  • White Teeth, By Zadie Smith

    Jones’ biracial, brilliant daughter and Iqbal’s rebellious sons form close friendships and blossom in different strengths, but their paths to adulthood are strewn with pitfalls — like a profound longing for acceptance that any young person, and any immigrant, can likely relate to. Adolescence is awkward and Smith takes the fumbling insecurity, physical self-consciousness and shifting identity and unflinchingly lays it all on the page.

  • Americanah, By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Americanah is a love story, following two teenagers in Nigeria as they grow up and leave their country of origin. But more importantly, it’s a sharp and raw portrait of contemporary race relations, depicting just how different an experience it is to be African in America and to be an African-American.

  • Housekeeping, By Marilynne Robinson

    The tale is narrated by Ruthie, a young girl who, along with her sister Lucille, is left with an itinerant aunt after their mother takes her own life. An aura of the uncanny hovers over the lives of the threesome, as their aunt struggles to stay in town to care for the girls despite her wanderlust and obvious disconnect from society. Housekeeping makes vivid a sense of displacement and identity confusion that will cut right to your soul.

Notes: Book reviews by Claire Fallon and Priscilla Frank

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