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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

Raising kids internationally is interesting

ASB middle school girls' volleyball 2008I had a fascinating afternoon with some girls from school yesterday. We are hosting a middle school volleyball tournament this weekend, and part of the activity schedule was to go to a mall and go bowling. When the big bus showed up to take everyone, there wasn’t enough room for all the players, so I took a small jeep-like private vehicle. Five girls came with me, 4 from a visiting school and 1 from our school.

The conversations on the way down were eye-opening, to say the least. While not really eavesdropping, I was listening in from time to time, and was surprised by the conversations that took place. They started off with the typical “Where are you from?” questions, with the girls coming from the USA and Korea. Things started to turn when one of them continued, “But my friends tell me I’m not really from the United States. I consider myself more of a world citizen.” That led them in to the “Where have you lived?” portion of the conversation, which is a very normal course of events when these kids have spent their lives living out of their home countries.

They talked volleyball for a little while (since they were, after all here for a volleyball tournament!), but then moved right back into descriptions of places they’d been, people they knew in various schools around the world (and finding they had some acquaintances in Egypt in common!), and weird experiences while traveling (riding on trains, sitting on tops of buses, life in an Asian mega-city).

What I found mesmerizing, listening in from afar, was the complete lack of discussion or seeming interest in those things that one would expect middle school students to talk about: music, movies, TV shows, actors, gossip, etc. The one time they mentioned movies was in the context of, “I was watching this movie, and even though my Hindi isn’t really all that good I could understand a lot of it.”

I know that I shouldn’t assign too much importance to a single conversation that I heard, but as a dad of children who are going to be brought up in this way, I was entranced. Here are 11 to 14 year olds who have very different perspective of ‘shared culture.’ They don’t have a common set of entertainment (music and video) experiences, and so they have to build their social engagements around what they have in common: the world. What a different way to build a middle school experience – instead of giggling over the latest celebrity gossip and pop music craze, the girls were laughing about the crazy places they’d seen around the world! Makes me pretty excited to be raising a couple of kids in this environment…

And by the way – our ASB teams took 2nd and 3rd in the tournament! Pretty great for a program in its second year!!

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One Comment

  1. I have thought about raising my kids in this international environment and that they might be missing something. Something important from my culture. But you know they are building their own type of culture, one of curiosity, acceptance and tolerance. I love that these girls see themselves as world citizens. Stories like this help me to justify this life that I have come to love. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Dianna on May 22nd, 2008 at 2:27 pm

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