RSS

Category Archives: expat

“Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time” Book Review by Brigid Schulte

A couple of weeks back, during my ‘usual morning routine at work’,  I stumbled upon a book review published on the Washington Post, under the ‘Parenting’ section, and found it so clear, so engaging, that I felt like ordering the book right then!

The review was written by Jennifer Howard, and today I received the ‘okay’ from the Washington Post editors to have it shared here – for the ones who didn’t have the same opportunity read it over there :o here is the link, and below, the full review. Enjoy as much as I did!

 


‘Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time’ by Brigid Schulte

By Jennifer Howard, Published: March 21
When did we get so busy? For many of us, life unspools as a never-ending to-do list. Wake up, pack lunches, get the kids to school, get ourselves to our jobs, work all day, collect the kids, make dinner, supervise homework, do the laundry, walk the dog, pay the bills, answer e-mail, crawl into bed for a few fitful hours of sleep, wake up already exhausted, then do it all over again. Weekends, which ought to be oases of leisure, have their own hectic rhythms: errands, chores, sports events, grocery shopping, exercise. Dispatch one task and six more take its place, a regenerating zombie army of obligations.

This brain-eating assault of to-dos leaves its victims wrung out, joyless, too tired to stop and smell the roses (which probably need pruning and mulching anyway — add that to the list). But “this is how it feels to live my life: scattered, fragmented, and exhausting,” Brigid Schulte writes early in “Overwhelmed,” her unexpectedly liberating investigation into the plague of busyness that afflicts us. “I am always doing more than one thing at a time and feel I never do any one particularly well. I am always behind and always late, with one more thing and one more thing and one more thing to do before rushing out the door.

She could be describing my days and probably yours, especially if you’re a working parent in the overcommitted middle part of life. Schulte, a longtime reporter for The Washington Post and the mother of two school-age kids, has a word for this shared unpleasantness: the Overwhelm. She takes her own harried-working-mom life as the jumping-off point for her research on where the Overwhelm comes from and what we can do about it.

Busyness has become so much the assumed default of many lives that it feels as elemental and uncontrollable as weather. So Schulte’s shocked when John Robinson, a University of Maryland sociologist known as Father Time, tells her that women have at least 30 hours of leisure a week, according to his time-use studies. She can’t reconcile that statistic with how her hours seem shredded into “time confetti — one big, chaotic burst of exploding slivers, bits, and scraps.” Nor does she believe it when Robinson tells her that we feel busy in part because we decide to feel busy.

Schulte quickly moves on to other researchers’ explorations of workplace culture, gender roles and time management, finding both reassurance and confirmation that she’s not making up the Overwhelm. She learns that the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that “acts like a patient yet controlling kindergarten teacher,” shrinks under the neurochemical onslaught of constant stress. That lets the amygdala, “the seat of negative emotions like fear, aggression, and anxiety,” take over. Anyone who has ever yelled at her kids while searching frantically for the car keys 10 minutes after the family should have left the house understands this.

If the neuroscience Schulte reports is right, feeling busy all the time shrinks the better part of our brains. But busyness also delivers cultural rewards. We feel important when we’re always booked, according to researchers such as Ann Burnett, who has studied thousands of the holiday letters people send to trumpet the year’s accomplishments.

Burnett’s collection of letters, which date back to the 1960s, make up “an archive of the rise of busyness” as something to aspire to. As Burnett tells Schulte: “People are competing about being busy. It’s about showing status. That if you’re busy, you’re important. You’re leading a full and worthy life.” The more you do, the more you matter, or so the reigning cultural script goes.

That script dictates how many offices and homes run. At work, the cult of the always-available “ideal worker” still “holds immense power,” Schulte writes, even as more people telecommute and work flexible hours. The technology that untethers workers from cubicles also makes it very hard to not be on call at all times. (I’d have liked to see Shulte spend more time on how technology fuels the cult of busyness.)

Those who escape the “time cages” of traditional workplaces confront what Schulte calls “a stalled gender revolution” at home, with consequences especially burdensome for women. She cites work by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on how women’s time is “contaminated” by “keeping in mind at all times all the moving parts of kids, house, work, errands, and family calendar.”

Only in Denmark does Schulte find a culture that appears to balance work, home and play in a truly egalitarian way. Because “Overwhelmed” sticks closest to the experience of working American parents, she goes after the shameful lack of affordable child care in this country. She even interviews Pat Buchanan, who in the 1970s helped sabotage a bill that would have created universal child care.

While that’s a useful bit of policy history to contemplate, and one that still affects us today, the most engaging sections of “Overwhelmed” stick to the here and now and how we let the cult of busyness lay waste to our hours. “Contaminated” time eats away at leisure, according to researcher Ben Hunnicutt, and by “leisure” he does not mean hours spent parked on the sofa in front of the telly. Leisure, to Hunnicutt, means experiencing “the miracle of now” or “simply being open to the wonder and marvel of the present” — the sense of being alive, which no to-do list will ever capture.

Although it illuminates a painfully familiar experience, “Overwhelmed” doesn’t speak for or about everyone. It lingers most on the conditions under which middle-class mothers and fathers labor, but the Overwhelm afflicts the child-free, too. The working poor are stretched even thinner. And how workers in China or Indonesia or India or South Africa feel about the balance of their lives is understandably beyond Schulte’s scope, although Europeans make a few appearances.

The question raised by “Father Time” John Robinson nags at this book like a forgotten homework assignment. The further I read, the more I began to wonder how much of the Overwhelm is at least partly self-inflicted and to see opportunities to reclaim time. Like Jacob Marley’s ghost, we’ve forged chains of obligation that we drag around with us. But if we made those chains, we can loosen them too, as Schulte has tried to do, with some success. In an appendix, “Do One Thing,” she offers useful starting points, such as learning not to give your time away and setting clear expectations about what really needs to be accomplished. Not every to-do item is created equal.

Do our employers really expect us to be on call 24/7, tethered to our smartphones as if they were oxygen tanks? Just because we can check e-mail at all hours, should we? Do our offspring really need to be hauled around to every soccer game and music lesson? Does every last piece of laundry have to be folded and put away before we can sit down with a cup of coffee, stare out the window and daydream? As a neighbor said to me not long ago, your work e-mail can wait. Your life can’t.

Jennifer Howard , a fiction writer and journalist, is a senior reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

About these ads
 
 

Tags: , , ,

Hot off the Press! Featured Expat: Interviewed by the ExpatsBlog.

Expat InterviewsAfter reading, if you have any comments about the interview, or any questions to ask, hop over to the ExpatsBlog and share your thoughts there! Thank you!

American Expat Living in Bolivia – Interview with Raquel

The mastermind behind 3rdCultureChildren Blog is a Foreign Service spouse, mother of 3 third-culture children aged 8 and under, with an endless passion for discovering and learning new languages, cultures, traveling and photography. Before joining the foreign service lifestyle, her background in Science and research took her to understand that world is much more than the geographic and physical boundaries may display it. Se enjoys teaching, talking, and, as an avid blogger, sharing hers and her family’s stories and lessons learned with other expat families. She’s contributed her experiences to the Foreign Service Journal, online publications and to a recent book on expat resilience. She initially began blogging to share impressions, observations and along-the-road experiences with families and friends, and later other expats experiencing similar challenges/adventures. So the blog morphed into more than just a quasi-travel and photo journal. Raquel’s expat blog is called 3rd Culture Children (see listing here)
Archipelago Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Archipelago Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Here’s the interview with Raquel…

Where are you originally from?
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In which country and city are you living now?
La Paz, Bolivia

How long have you lived in Bolivia and how long are you planning to stay?
Since August 2012. Planning to stay until June 2014.

Jericoacoara Beach, Brazil
Jericoacoara Beach, Brazil

Why did you move to Bolivia and what do you do?
Because of my husband’s assignment with the US Foreign Service. I also have a full-time job with the US Embassy La Paz, and have been working since March 2013.

Did you bring family with you?
Yes. The two of us and our three children, aged 8, 6 and 3.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Extremely easy, as a matter of fact. I grew up in Brazil, where my parents also worked for the Brazilian government. Our original family of 5 [my parents and my 2 brothers] were often requested to move to different cities, changing schools every couple of years. As an adult, working as a laboratory researcher, moving was also part of my normal routine. After marrying my husband, and due to his assignments with the State Department foreign service, the cycle ‘moving/adjusting/changing/re-inventing’ has become a regular task on our lives [smiles!].

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It’s never as easy as one expects. There are always challenges, being those related to language [although in our household we commonly switch between Portuguese-English-Spanish], culture, new schools, new jobs [for me, especially!]. Leaving old friends behind, and aiming to make new ones is never easy. I try to think of myself as a ‘serial-social being’. I’m always on-the-go, and throughout the years, I found myself displaying social skills I didn’t really know I had. I’m social because it’s a necessity. But I also enjoy the change, which tends to make the moves a bit easier. Especially on the family – it’s less difficult to face challenges when one has an idea what could be ahead of them, and has the time and the emotional support to deal with them…

Kruger Park, South Africa
Kruger Park, South Africa

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Bolivia is a country with beautiful landscapes. Any outdoors activities are highly recommended, if the basic precautions [with the high altitude, especially] are taken. The Bolivian people tend to be warm and welcoming. Shopping for arts and crafts should be included in any expats visiting list, as well as, reserving some time to enjoy the typical food, and the dancing and musical expressions, only found around the Andean region.

What do you enjoy most about living in Bolivia?
The climate is great – it feels like a nice Fall day all year around. We live surrounded by mountains, which offers us a very soothing scenario – if one likes to lounge around, reading a good book, or enjoying a glass of wine by the fireplace, that’s definitely a place to be. The crime rate [a crucial point for any expat list!] is very low, and La Paz is a friendly city for families – lots of parks and activities to do with/bring little kids along. Again: safety is key.

How does the cost of living in Bolivia compare to home?
Much less than in the USA, or even in Brazil.

Reed Dance in Swaziland
Reed Dance in Swaziland

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Bolivia?
It’s a landlocked territory – we’re far from the water. Also, the high altitude can play not-so-funny games with one’s health. Our family, so far, hasn’t suffered much from those effects, but we’ve heard others complain about getting sick all the time… Each one is different, and again, the regular, recommended medical/health advices should be taken very seriously.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Bolivia, what would it be?
Bring your best adventurous spirit – you’ll need it! Also, keep your expectations low: it’s the bet advice to a prospective expat or visiting fellow – expecting less, one may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The difficulties to fly out of Bolivia to other countries, presently. From previous posts, the physical distance between our family nucleus and our parents.

When you finally return home, how do you think you’ll cope with repatriation?
Communicating with others, we hope! We have a very good group of friends and former colleagues at home [it's Washington DC, and we all work for the government, so, it's pretty common to have people coming and going, all the time!] It’s all part of work: the moving, the paking-out…

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?

  1. Dream away. And dream big. Dream of traveling to unknown places, learning from new people, immersing into new cultures.
  2. Keep your expectations low. Many surprises should come your way if you’re not waiting for anything!
  3. Be social. Be friendly. Be smart. Street Smart! Be conscious and be aware of your surroundings, as well. Teaching lessons come in different envelopes, sometimes, in a not-so-nice ones!
  4. Try to learn a new language, try to communicate with the locals and understand their stories and their culture. Communicate. Listen and be heard.
  5. Attempt to comprehend the new country’s traditions, faith, and fears… The harmonious relationship between the local community and Mother Nature. Learn from their experiences and build your own story. It’s worthy every second in invest in!

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
As a traveling family, we’ve lived in Mozambique, South Africa, Brazil, Bolivia, and during our work assignments, we traveled to England, Chile, USA and Swaziland. I liked the idea of organizing not only our travel notes, but also providing resources for other parents, and encouraging an exchange of ideas through comments, questions and suggestions from viewers. The name for the blog came from the term itself: “Third Culture Children” are children whose parents come from distinct cultures, and grow up under a hybrid environment, experiencing diverse cultural growth. “The result of this transcontinental growth can never be taught or learned or fully understood by anyone who hasn’t actually experienced it. The developing child takes the culture of their parent’s passport country, or their first culture, to a foreign land. The result is that the child (and later on, the adult) adopts the qualities of the Second Culture into their preexisting First Culture, creating a unique cultural perspective known as the Third Culture”. As an expat who is now raising three children, all aged 8 and under, the titled seemed a natural fit! I’m so pleased to share with other expatriates, parents, and traveling families, not only the beauty and excitement of traveling, but also resources regarding languages, social and cultural adjustments, and our not-so-professional advice as “parents-on-the-go“.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Feel free to send me a note thru Twitter, or visit our expat blog, http://3rdculturechildren.com, sharing your comments on any recent post or pages – I’d love to hear from you!

 

http://www.expatsblog.com/articles/1722/american-expat-living-in-bolivia-interview-with-raquel

 

Tags: , , ,

What Drives Me Crazy?

Oh, boy!

If you asked my husband, he’ll clearly tell anyone, I don’t need any triggering reason to go insane… <3 He’d state that in a very loving way, and yet, he’d say it!

The ‘little voices in my head’ would likely echo his statement. But I firmly disagree: it’s hard for me to lose my cool, although, a few things would definitely make it to the list of ‘strong reasoning facts’ that drive me crazy… This morning I was cruising thru the WP ‘inspirational’ suggestions, and found Krista’s topic, on ‘She drives me crazy’. In my case, “She” has morphed into a  list of well-balanced reasons, which I should name ‘boiling point checklist’ :

  •  Somebody over here, another ‘inspired blogger’, came up with a masterpiece on how useless the so-called “inspirational images” from FB [and why not, from other social media channels?] are – I could not agree more with him. That said, thank you very much RichyDispatch for getting me all fired-up for this writing prompt! You’ve become my instant Monday Hero! :o

  • Still on the “social media” subject, another boiling point disclosure seems to be the way people describe themselves/their achievements/their fantastic lives on the ‘social scene’…. is it me, or, pretty much everyone else out there seems to have the smartest children, their overachiever spouses, the greatest and best paid jobs? Maybe it’s just me, but this constant display of ‘my grass is greener than yours’ gets old very quickly…

  • Leaving the social media aside, now let’s move to another common boiling point-trigger: The School Moms. Oh, my! This is for the many parents out there, especially the ones who try to get involved with their kiddo’s school activities. I’ve got a question for y’all: have you ever had any issues with [not of them, but they've got representatives all over the world] the PTA mafia? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, there’s no need to worry, and it also means you haven’t had any bad experiences with the before-mentioned group – for the ones who understand my pain, that’s enough said!

  • Different scenario, now: the work place/social gatherings:

I’m born and raised Latina, so I believe I’ve got a pass to share my two cents on this. In most of latino countries, people never miss an event; they’re also, never on time! I try my best to get all my household act together before heading out to work. I’m currently living and working at a latino country – the perception of regular/expected work hours seem to differ from one person to the other. And why? Latinos don’t believe in a set time, for anything! [again, I can speak out my thoughts 'cause I was born in Brazil, and when I last checked, it's part of the colorful/wonderful Latino community!]. 

You wanna plan a dinner starting at 8, remember to tell your guests dinner is scheduled for 6. Most people will be there at/around 8:30. It’s a good technique, and you don’t stress out.

You’re throwing a birthday party for your toddler, and it should run from 2-4, don’t expect the lovely little ones [and their respective families] to depart before dinner time. That said, get your post-birthday-dinner ready for the tardy ones – they’ll likely overstay, and they’ll surely be hungry!

 

Do these type of issues make my blood boil inside my veins? 

 Just a little bit… :o

 
 

Tags: , , ,

A Traveler In The Foreign Service: The Best Foreign Service Blogs, by Dave Seminara.

Guest Post by Dave Seminara

smoking huge joint womanThe World Wide Web is saturated with amateurish blogs created by people who’d be lucky to command the devoted readership of their immediate family members, let alone the wider public. There are scores of blogs managed by Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) and while many of them are worth reading, some aredownright bizarre. This post will steer you toward some Foreign Service related blogs that are well worth your time.
I started this series nine months ago to help people get a better understanding of what life in the U.S. Foreign Service is like. Many of the posts have been about my experiences but I’ve also introduced readers to an intrepid, single female diplomat fresh off of tours in Syria and Pakistan, a diplomatic courier, a USAID Foreign Service Officer currently serving in Afghanistan and others. But spend some time at the sites listed below to get a flavor of what it’s like to represent the U.S. Government in The Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Bolivia, Pakistan and dozens of other exotic locales.

One major caveat here is that FSOs have to be careful what they write because free speech only takes you so far in the precarious, uber-cautious world of government service. Most FSOs have disclaimers on their sites warning that the views expressed are their own, but many still tend to steer clear of tackling political issues or anything controversial.Peter Van Buren, a now retired diplomat who wrote “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People,” was effectively driven out of the Foreign Service partially because he posted a link to a cable on WikiLeaks and made some disparaging remarks, which he later apologized for, about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on his website.There’s no doubt that his experience has had a chilling effect across the board, so visit the sites below to get the low-down on the Foreign Service lifestyle and the travel opportunities, not the dirty underbelly of how diplomacy plays out overseas.Some of the blogs below contain little, if any biographical info, and I wasn’t able to read each one in its entirety, so my apologies in advance if my impressions of these blogs below miss the mark. That said, I would invite the authors of these fine sites to tell us more about themselves, if they dare, in the comments section.DiplodunitDomani Spero has no U.S. government connection and thus has the freedom to write about the world of diplomacy without having to worry about his career. Diplodunit is as close as you’ll find to one-stop shopping for a candid look at what’s going on in the Foreign Service community.

Adventures in Good Countries- Getting Along In The Foreign Service

I love this blog. The author, apparently a single female public diplomacy officer who, “doesn’t date outside the visa waiver program,” blogs with style and passion about life in Japan, Pakistan, Jordan and elsewhere, coping with Multiple Sclerosis and whatever else pops into her head. How can you not like a writer who offers advice to protesters on how to construct a good effigy? (“Don’t just throw something together with the rationale that you’re only going to burn it anyway – take some pride in your work.”)

We Meant Well

You might not agree with Peter Van Buren but you will want to read his blog, which is sometimes offensive but never boring.

Third Culture Children

This blog, which details the lives of a family of five living in Recife, Brazil, La Paz, Bolivia and elsewhere, is one of the very best Foreign Service related sites out there. It’s a particularly good resource for parents who are wondering what the overseas experience will be like for their children.

amy gottlieb usaidAmy Gottlieb’s Photography & Blog

Gottlieb is a doctor and a USAID FSO currently serving in Vietnam. Her portraits from Jamaica, Nepal, Vietnam, South America, Africa and beyond are as good as any you’ll find anywhere.

Adventures Around the World- A Foreign Service Officer’s Tales of Life Abroad

The author of this refreshingly candid and well-written blog is currently in Kabul and has previously served in Iraq and Nepal. Here’s how she described the “honeymoon” period at a new post: “The honeymoon period is the time frame after moving to a foreign country where the excitement of being somewhere new overshadows certain harsh realities of living in a foreign country. People burning piles of trash in the street give the place ‘character’ and bargaining with a taxi driver is part of the ‘adventure.’”

Worldwide Availability

This is a stunning photo blog from an American diplomat who was born on a farm in China and is currently serving in South Korea. Visiting this site is the next best thing to booking a ticket to Seoul. Also, for those who are curious to know how long it takes to join the Foreign Service, take a look at his instructive personal timeline for some clues.

Wanderings of a Cheerful Stoic

Anyone who features a photo of themselves (I presume) with a Gambian poached rat on their homepage is all right by me. This is a blog from a FSO posted in Conakry, Guinea, a place where “you tend to find yourself without a really specific reason.”

The Slow Move East- Thoughts on Being an Expatriate

Hannah Draper, a FSO currently serving in Libya, might be a “Type-A bureaucrat who professionally pushes papers in the Middle East,” but her writing is compulsively readable.

Where in the World am I? Notes from the Streets of Hyderabad, India

A FSO in Hyderabad who previously served in Burundi blogs about food and life overseas with gusto.

Cross Words- A Blog About Writing and Anything Else That Comes to Mind

Ted Cross, a FSO currently living in Budapest who apparently just signed up for Facebook last week (Friend him!), tells us on his homepage that his “dream is to be a published author.” I like someone who isn’t afraid to tell the world what he wants. He’s into fantasy and science fiction, neither of which interests me, but his blog is unique and his writing is lucid.

Four Globetrotters- The (Most Likely) Incoherent Ramblings of a Sleep-Deprived Single Mother Living Overseas with her Trio of Kiddos

Anyone who can pull off being a single mom in the Foreign Service is someone I want to meet. This blog, written by a former Foreign Service brat, isn’t nearly as incoherent as advertised.

Beau Geste, Mon Ami- The Chronicle of my Journey to and through The Foreign Service

Even a quick breeze through this visually appealing blog will give you an idea of how varied and interesting life in the Foreign Service can be. If nothing else, do not miss the photos of the tribal warriors in Papua New Guinea.

Zvirdins at Large- Jamie and Andrew’s Excellent Adventures

If you want a slice of life from the Marshall Islands, this is the place to go. I love this blog but I couldn’t bring myself to click into the video entitled “Pig Shooting” in a post on “Pig Butchering.” Yikes.

Let me know in the comments section if you think I’ve missed any great FSO-related blogs and if you’re the author of ones of the sites mentioned above, tell us a bit about yourself.

Read more from “A Traveler in the Foreign Service” here.

(Photos courtesy of Amy Gottlieb)

Read more from “A Traveler in the Foreign Service” here.

***************************************************************************************

This year’s April issue of the Foreign Service Journal (FSJ, April 2012) discussed the Family Member Employment, and the search for meaningful work overseas. Reading through the whole edition, you’ll find great stories about living and working as a Foreign Service spouse. Several FS spouses shared their experiences and impressions regarding working overseas. It’s an honor to be one of the contributors to this edition. Congratulations to all who contributed to that month’s issue. Here’s the link to another FS blogger, also sharing her impressions about family member employment.

Giving expats a hand

A Traveler In The Foreign Service: A ‘Trailing Spouse’ Speaks Out (gadling.com)

Career options overseas (anagentswife.wordpress.com)

 
7 Comments

Posted by on March 12, 2014 in expat, foreign service, TRAVEL

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The mysterious Calle Jaén in La Paz: a place for urban legends…

Calle Jaén

No ghosts were seen today at Calle Apolinar Jaén, in downtown La Paz… Despite the legends, myths, stories from long-time residents and local business owners… This morning, there were no wondering gnomes, nor widows, searching for lonely bachelors, too enebriated to find their own way… This morning, the bright and warm colors covering this street’s colonial houses offered nothing but a pleasant welcome to the two of us, on our last-minute decision on visiting one of the most famous streets in La Paz – la antigua Calle Kaura Kancha…

IMG_1629

Today, the street so used to host commercial exchanges, is now a hotspot for the bohemian crowd visiting La Paz – it’s a must-visit sight for expats in search of learning more about the Paceña culture, its stories, its fears…

We found Calle Jaén, just after a short walk from the city center and Plaza Murrllo, and we confirmed it’s one of most charming colonial streets in the city.Museo Murillo is on this street. This old mansion was once owned by Pedro Domingo Murillo, a hero of the Bolivian republic, and now houses furniture and items from colonial times. The buildings and cobblestoned street are preserved, without traffic, and attract visitors for the soothing atmosphere. This morning, husband and I had the opportunity to enjoy the peace and quietness from Calle Jaén – apparently, the ghostly tales do not come to life on Monday mornings… :o

While walking along Jaén, we visited the Museum of Musical Instruments, and an art gallery, displaying several pieces from the Mamani collection – the warm, earthy colors and textures, as well as the unique musical instruments inventions made up for a delightful beginning before we headed out to our other sights: the San Francisco Church and Plaza, its informal market [for some well-deserved craft shopping!], and a peek at the Mercado de Brujas [Witch Market]…

Definitely, one of the best ways to spend a morning off-work: learning, experiencing, living the Bolivian culture – a tale at a time… :o

And, little bit in Spanish:

El lugar más mágico de La Paz, la calle Jaén, ubicada en el casco antiguo de la capital, calle empedrada de misterios que se esconden detrás de las paredes de sus casas coloniales. Según cuenta la leyenda, en la calle, entonces llamada callejón Cabra – Cancha, se han venido produciendo fenómenos paranormales con los condenados desde tiempos coloniales.Los fantasmas, duendes, almas en pena, ruidos infernales de carruajes tirados por caballos y cadenas arrastradas por el suelo, sembraban el pánico en los habitantes.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 18, 2014 in ART, BOLIVIA, expat, foreign service, photography

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Gallery

Talent Show: “Thriller, by our Five-Year-Olds”.

IMG_1539

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

{Weekly Writing Challenge} Parenting as a Cliffhanger…

When being called “Incredibly Good” is really not good for children?

Great Wednesday, although it began with a not-so-welcoming weather in La Paz – the rainy season has arrived, and flooded streets displaying the hectic driving behavior are definitely not the best place to be! The inspiration for this ‘quasi-op-piece’ comes from the idea of leaving the readers ‘hanging’ [thanks, Michelle W., btw!]‘, while I freely start a discussion on possible strategies on parenting well-rounded children [or lack of thereof!].

Back to work, as expected, and having the opportunity to read the paper before the work day starts is key! The Washington Post column on ‘Parenting’ called my attention with an article on ‘Stop heaping praise on your kids’, by Amy Joyce, really brought some thoughts up, as well as, a few questions and concerns.

STOP PRAISING YOUR KIDS??

Not really, but let’s keep on moving on. Also, nobody should be telling us what to do regarding the way we bring our kids up, correct? :o

We’ve all done it, stated Amy Joyce. But I’m sure not all of us knew we might be hurting our kids by doing it… At least, I did not know. How could I? Simply trying to work my best magic tricks when it comes to parenting…

Why would we, parents, knowingly harm our children?

Let’s start thinking! Continue reading

 
19 Comments

Posted by on January 8, 2014 in children, expat, FAMILY, foreign service

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Blog Milestone: WP Follower #4,000. Thank You!

 

Screen shot 2014-01-05 at 10.26.02 PM

This travel/family blog just reached the mark of 4,000 WordPress followers…

Thank you for helping us keep on growing! Great way to begin 2014!

And a special thank you goes to ‘follower # 4,000′: MeralKathwari - hope you enjoy the journey with us!

 

 
15 Comments

Posted by on January 5, 2014 in expat, foreign service

 

Tags: , , , ,

[Photography] 65 ways of Sucre, Bolivia.

 

2013 was ending, and our traveling family was in deep need of a quick trip before the new year rang in…

…it had to be to a kid-friendly place, not too far from our home, La Paz, and yet, a place that offered great sights, tons of history, tales and stories to write home about… We were looking for a visiting site that wouldn’t break our end-of-the-year budget [between the Christmas holidays and the New Year’s!].

We found it – Bolivia’s historical capital, the [sweet!] city of Sucre, whose name, coincidently means ‘sugar’, in French [completely unrelated to this blogpost, but a nice send-back to my high school French lessons!] Again, nothing to do with our trip, so, forgetting now my long-lost French lessons, and back to our reality – family life, parenting & traveling!

All that said, our family of 5 headed out to Sucre, a comfortable, affordable short flight from La Paz, right after Christmas Day, for a long and well-deserved weekend.

This post showcases several images we were able to capture with our constantly-switching-hands camera. More yet to come: a visit to Sucre’s Dinosaur Park, the largest one in South America – but I’ll leave it for later… too many beautiful sites/snapshots to enjoy for now!

And, if curious about things to do in Sucre [according to the Lonely Planet http://www.lonelyplanet.com/bolivia/the-southwest/sucre/things-to-do, there are some 112 items to add to any expat visiting list!], feel free to hop over to another friendly site, from a Twitter follower, @SucreLife, and get insider tips, info and advice on traveling to the “White City”[www.sucrelife.com]

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/bolivia/the-southwest/sucre/things-to-do#ixzz2pRfOUGq5

 

 

Tags: ,

Bolivian New Year’s Tradition: Underwear for Good Luck!

This will be our family’s second New Year’s eve in Bolivia… and the last one, since next Summer we’re headed out to our next adventure! :o Life in the Foreign Service, baby!

Learning a bit more about the Bolivian culture is definitely part of my ‘unofficial duties‘ as an expat and a mother… We have lived in different places, and each country has its own way to greet the coming year… in Brazil, our previous post, the New Year is celebrated in white clothes, and at midnight, asking for blessings from Yemanjá, the protector of the waters.

Regarding the many different traditions for welcoming the New Year, the beautiful country of Bolivia couldn’t stay behind others, and for sure, brings out its very own expression of ‘luck’…

This time, I was quite surprised to find out how: WEARING YELLOW (AND/OR) RED UNDERWEAR! Similar to countries like Mexico, where colorful underwear is a ‘must-have’ for the New Year’s Eve, here in Bolivia, it’s important when the underwear is changed.

People have to buy some yellow [or red] underwear piece and wait for midnight… When it comes, they just run to a place to change it and believe that their luck will change as well! It’s also believed that this practice helps them find a loving mate. Red means an amorous love life ahead and yellow expresses the desire to gain money and wealth. The wishes of the locals are expressed via their underpants.

Think I’m just making it up? Take a look at the largest open market in Achumani, a residential area in La Paz, and tell me what you spot from the selling stands! ♥ The Cholitas selling their articles probably thought I was another ‘crazy foreigner‘ when asked them for permission to snap these shots… and they were a bit disappointed when learned I wasn’t gonna buy any pieces‘aren’t you concerned about your good fortune for next year?’ And with a smile, I just kindly thanked them for their time and help, and for explaining the meaning behind the colors; but told them I was happy with my present fortune… and that I’d be okay for the New Year’s, despite lacking a piece of undergarment displaying a money sign:o

Wishing all a very HAPPY, COLORFUL & LUCKY NEW YEAR! :o

[even if you could not get your red/yellow piece of underclothing for good luck!]

Related articles

 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

This Blog won Top Tweets on ExpatsBlog! “Twenty reasons for adding Bolivia to your expat visiting list – and maybe sticking around for a while!”

Expat blogs in BoliviaExpat blogs in BoliviaThank you for all the comments, and shared tweets! Not only this blog is bringing home a sweet shopping voucher from Amazon, but the Silver Badge on the side – great way to begin this Christmas Week! :o

[Could not repeat the same feat as last year, when this blog was awarded Gold. Congratulations Jessica for representing so well this year the beautiful country of Bolivia with her 'Bohemian Diaries'! Keep on blogging!]

Expat Blog Awards 2013 Top List Contest Winners is pleased to announced to the winners of this year’s Expat Blog Awards! The standard was simply breathtaking, with such a diverse range of talented bloggers quite clearly pulling out all the stops to bring you the best they can! Without further ado, here are the Expat Blog Awards 2013 prize and award winners…

Our Top 3 Prize Winners

Overall Winner: Kathleen Siddell
Contest Entry: The Top 8 Ideas Worth Adopting From the Chinese

1st Runner Up: Becky the Great
Contest Entry: N is for Nomads

2nd runner Up: Emily Calle
Contest Entry: Top 50 Ways You Know You’re an Expat Living in Vienna

Our Fave Reader Comment: Mrs Partly Cloudy
Contest Entry: Welcome to Singapore:don’t look down
Blog Listing: Partly Cloudy

Top FB Likes: Paul Giles
Contest Entry: The Top Six Dangers You Face When Travelling to Colombia
Blog Listing: Colombia Travel Blog

Top Tweets: 3rd Culture Children
Contest Entry: Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List
Blog Listing: 3rd Culture Children

Random Winner: Christie Montague
Contest Entry: 6 Things You Should Know About the South of France if You Want to Blend in
Blog Listing: You can go your own way

Now, here is the Top Tweets Winner Post – with all its colorful images! Thanks again for all who read, commented, shared the link, and learned a bit about Bolivia – and maybe, the ones who are now considering adding the country to their Expat Visiting List! :o

unplugged4

From the ExpatsBlog team of editors: “After our hugely successful Expat Blog Awards 2012 last year, we thought we’d take a different spin on this year’s awards! Realising that last year’s scenario would be unfair to recently-joined newer bloggers, we’ve decided to combine the Expat Blog Awards 2013 with a big expat writing contest!
Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List !

Expat Blog Awards 2013 Contest Entry That said, here’s my pitch… If this blogpost here makes you a bit curious… hop over to ExpatBlogs and check out a list especially prepared for this year’s writing contest: Suggestions on why expats should add Bolivia to their visiting list… they’ll be so in love that may want to stick around for a while! And remember: your great comment will help this blog go for Gold… two years in a row… why not? :o

Bolivia is a culturally diverse, geographically unique and strange in so many other ways that it’s hard to find another place/country quite like it. And this statement is coming from a ‘serial expat’, a traveling mother of third-culture children, a trailing spouse married into the US Foreign Service, and a Latina-born woman.

Hummm… need more examples of the colors and textures? Take a look:

The worldly recognized, the Andean rugs…

bolivian-rugs

Also, here one may enjoy the  typical “salteñas“, recipes borrowed long ago from neighboring Argentina

saltenas

Craving for more? Let’s go on a quick trip towards this unique place on earth!

What you may find in Bolivia? Take a look at these images, and don’t forget: go visit the Expat Blogs and share your wonderful comment about this travel blog! [Thank you!!!]

dressed in patterns

dressed in patterns

Madre Luna, from the Moon Valley

What looks like a carpet of stalagmites canvassing a desert, Valle de la Luna, or “Valley of the Moon” is what is left of a mountain composed of clay and sandstone that has been battered by strong winds and time.

Here are more images of this unique country… looking for a bit more explanation? Check the full text prepared for this year’s contest

IMG_5671

death road bikers...

Mountain biking trip

Mountain biking trip

DSC_0006

comadres

Cotapata Park, Bolivia

Cotapata Park, Bolivia

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_0407

Kal7

bolivian unusual

unplugged2

IMG_0805

IMG-20130816-00021

Aguayo

Aguayo

IMG_4668

Laguna Verde ['Green Lagoon']

DSC_8066

Singani in Tarija

IMG_5777

IMG_5763

Pre-Inca Ruins

Pre-Inca Ruins

The Table of Sacrifices

The Table of Sacrifices

Pre-Inca Ruins

IMG_5708

Immerse into the local culture and traditions

IMG_5663

IMG_5669

IMG_5623

IMG_5622

IMG_5658

IMG_5562

Español: Alumnos del Colegio Padre Luis Gallar...

[Photo credit: Wikipedia.com]

IMG_4960

The famous “trufi”!

Connect with the past, experience the present and look into the future… Bolivia offers it all! ♥

muela del diablo

Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List !

 

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ExpatsBlog: What are people talking about our take on Bolivia?

This is the second part of the ‘contest post’ – the article published on ExpatsBlog about our ‘list on why expats should add Bolivia to their bucket list… and maybe sticking around for a while!’ is getting some feedback! See below what others are talking about the article, and don’t forget to hop on over to Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List!, leaving your comment about our take on Bolivia for expats.

Thank you! :o

Contest Comments »  

Reader 1 wrote 20 hours ago:
 
 I’m intrigued: I thought Lhasa was the highest capital in the world. I’ve been there, and the mountains and the light in your pictures, and the way the people look remind me of it a lot. I hope you have a wonderful two years.
 
 
Reader 2 wrote 18 hours ago:
 
 I love your writing style and your suggestions make me want to visit Bolivia now! Enjoy your tour
 
 
Reader 3 wrote 8 hours ago:
 
 Wow! What a delight to find out about your blog from this contest. Too bad your entry as posted here doesn’t show your wonderful photography. Best to you and your family as you travel across Bolivia and the world with you open loving hearts.
 
 
Reader 4 wrote 2 hours ago:
 
 ADOREI SEU BLOG!! Meu Deus…you made me cry, I MISS Bolivia like crazy, everything you posted is SO TRUE…I am glad that you guys are having a great time. Being in EUR its so different from Bolivia, 180 degree change for me…the culture, the people, the weather and the community- there are no comparison, I enjoyed my time there. I miss the warmth and kindness of the people, and that I was called “señorita” by everyone made me feel very special. Great photos, keep it up, GRACIAS! for sharing. Good luck to you! Beijos!
 

Expat Blog Awards 2013 Contest Entry Connect with the past, experience the present and look into the future… Bolivia offers it all! ♥

muela del diablo

Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List !

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Twenty reasons for adding Bolivia to your expat visiting list – and maybe sticking around for a while!

unplugged4

From the ExpatsBlog team of editors: “After our hugely successful Expat Blog Awards 2012 last year, we thought we’d take a different spin on this year’s awards! Realising that last year’s scenario would be unfair to recently-joined newer bloggers, we’ve decided to combine the Expat Blog Awards 2013 with a big expat writing contest!
                                           

Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List !

Expat Blog Awards 2013 Contest Entry That said, here’s my pitch… If this blogpost here makes you a bit curious… hop over to ExpatBlogs and check out a list especially prepared for this year’s writing contest: Suggestions on why expats should add Bolivia to their visiting list… they’ll be so in love that may want to stick around for a while! And remember: your great comment will help this blog go for Gold… two years in a row… why not? :o

Bolivia is a culturally diverse, geographically unique and strange in so many other ways that it’s hard to find another place/country quite like it. And this statement is coming from a ‘serial expat’, a traveling mother of third-culture children, a trailing spouse married into the US Foreign Service, and a Latina-born woman.

Hummm… need more examples of the colors and textures? Take a look:

The worldly recognized, the Andean rugs…

bolivian-rugs

Also, here one may enjoy the  typical “salteñas“, recipes borrowed long ago from neighboring Argentina

saltenas

Craving for more? Let’s go on a quick trip towards this unique place on earth!

What you may find in Bolivia? Take a look at these images, and don’t forget: go visit the Expat Blogs and share your wonderful comment about this travel blog! [Thank you!!!]

dressed in patterns

dressed in patterns

Madre Luna, from the Moon Valley

What looks like a carpet of stalagmites canvassing a desert, Valle de la Luna, or “Valley of the Moon” is what is left of a mountain composed of clay and sandstone that has been battered by strong winds and time.

Here are more images of this unique country… looking for a bit more explanation? Check the full text prepared for this year’s contest [shameless, right? :o]

IMG_5671

death road bikers...

Mountain biking trip

Mountain biking trip

DSC_0006

comadres

Cotapata Park, Bolivia

Cotapata Park, Bolivia

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_0407

Kal7

bolivian unusual

unplugged2

IMG_0805

IMG-20130816-00021

Aguayo

Aguayo

IMG_4668

Laguna Verde ['Green Lagoon']

DSC_8066

Singani in Tarija

IMG_5777

IMG_5763

Pre-Inca Ruins

Pre-Inca Ruins

The Table of Sacrifices

The Table of Sacrifices

Pre-Inca Ruins

IMG_5708

Immerse into the local culture and traditions

IMG_5663

IMG_5669

IMG_5623

IMG_5622

IMG_5658

IMG_5562

Español: Alumnos del Colegio Padre Luis Gallar...

[Photo credit: Wikipedia.com]

 

IMG_4960

The famous “trufi”!

 

Connect with the past, experience the present and look into the future… Bolivia offers it all! ♥

muela del diablo

Twenty Reasons for Adding Bolivia to Your Expat Visiting List !

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

‘What did you do last weekend?’ I know what THIS family did!

programa MUNDIALITO

 

 
 

Tags: , , , ,

Why expat life is not always a smooth ride: another infographic about expats

Originally posted on :

Expat Life: Not Always A Smooth Ride!

Expat Life: Not Always A Smooth Ride! – An infographic by the team at Overs

This is another infographic about expats (see the sources at the end of the infographic). I chose to post it here on my blog, right after the post about the Sea Change Mentoring symposium I attended last Saturday, because many issues listed in this infographic have a major impact on expact children, and Sea Change Mentoring is one place to contact when facing issues like these.

Expat life is not as easy and smooth as many people think. Especially the different stages of expatriate adjustment should be taken seriously. These stages affect parents and children, and often not simultaneously. This is exactly why parents and children should reach out for help.

Another point seems very important to me: that expats or people who envisage this kind of life, should consider longer stays in a new…

View original 463 more words

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 16, 2013 in expat, foreign service, TCKs

 

Tags: , , , ,

Expatriation and Relationships — Intercultural Blog Carnival

3rdCultureChildren:

 “Moving on to relationships with children, Reflections on the Expat Life by 3rdCultureChildren touches upon the difficulties that children experience when following their parents around the world — and the approach that parents can take to make those moves easier.”

Great collection of posts – thanks Margarita for the inclusion!

Originally posted on "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...":

by Margarita

The fourth Intercultural Blog Carnival is finally here and today we will be focusing on ExpatRelationshipsExpatriation and Relationships. A huge topic for sure since it can include relationships with just about anyone (and anything!) — and luckily for our readers, today’s collection does. So without further ado, here are our participants:

Learning a language for love — Cat Gaa starts us off with a personal story of how learning the intricacies of a foreign language can make your romantic relationship evolve and flourish while also saving you from those awkward moments when you think they said/meant something that they actually didn’t.

In an appropriately titled Expatriation and Relationships, Susan Cross explores what it’s like to make a friend while an expat, then say good-bye to that friend, and then have to make friends again. A regular expatriate conundrum, isn’t it?

The topic of friends — and…

View original 326 more words

 

Tags: , , , , ,

I’m a Mix Tape Masterpiece!

mixtape

Click here for image source – gotta be true to the sources, right? :o

You may think it’s because I’m different… I know I’m not from here… but who is? We’re all from somewhere else…

 

 

Born in the sunny city of Rio de Janeiro… likely born to be wild… a restless, yet love-searching, soul…

 

Because of my parents line of work, moved from place to place quite often, growing up in the capital of the country… an intriguing city, sharing love-and-hate relationships with its citizens…

 

I’m a nomad, a traveler. A verb, rather than a noun…

 

But one day, met my better half… the day had come for love… and again, a foreigner to me, but one who changed my life completely…

 

And the rest… is pretty much history! A story we’ve been writing together… :o

 

Making a mix tape [remember that?!]: (or playlist, for the younger folks) that tells them who you are through song.

Acknolegdment: original inspiration coming from http://likereadingontrains.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/23-about-me-daily-prompt-mix-tape-masterpiece/

 
7 Comments

Posted by on October 6, 2013 in ART, expat, FAMILY, humor, music

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Violence-induced media and third-culture children.

PhotoFunia-742c03

I’ve been away from blogging a bit too long, and now, the opportunitiy to bring up my random thoughts on a very intriguing social issue, has arisen. The suggestion for this personal op-piece comes out as Michael Pick pokes us all this week, with the question: “Does watching violent movies inspire violence in the real world? “.  In his own words, “When tragedies happen in the real world because of the violent deeds of a particular individual, the shock and horror that this happened very soon leads to trying to unravel the reason behind how it came to pass.

For some, the violence seen in films is taken as a catalyst or the inspiration for disturbing acts of violence in the real world. For others, blaming film violence for real life tragedies is cutting corners at best and “scapegoating” at worst — an effort to pin complex social or psychological issues on an enemy that can’t fight back…

Violent? :o these are Super-Heroes, embedded with super-dupper powers, and any little boy's dream!  Image downloaded from the site http://abduzeedo.com

Violent? These are Super-Heroes, embedded with super-dupper powers, and any husband’s  little boy’s dream!
Image downloaded from the site http://abduzeedo.com

 

As a parent, a traveler, a ‘serial expat’, and mother of 3 growing TCKs, I believe there are so many factors responsible for shaping up a child’s future – and this is especially true when we’re talking about raising well-adjusted, worldly citizens, well-rounded children, as products of hybrid cultures.

Some of these factors are culture, socialization and the own child’s experience; its perception of the world, and the child’s feelings and frustrations. Unfortunately, due to being exposed to a myriad of social situations and contexts, a so-called ‘third culture child‘ is also more vulnerable to external influences. One of the strongest influences relates to the common day-to-day aspects of life: the innocent act ofabsorbing‘ images and concepts brought home through movies, TV shows, streamed videos, all the so-handy resources offered by the internet! And why not say, through the apparently harmless violence-based children’s video games… :o

Oh, well… so then, what should we do, as parents? Others here already expressed their opinion that simply forbidding the child from watching potentially violent programs/movies, is not the solution, but it does have an impact on the developing mind – and the impact is unlikely positive, unfortunately…

Third culture children are in continuous need to understand the true origins of caring, the need to help others, and the strategies to display a nonaggressive behavior. The key players in order to achieve that level of self-knowledge, comes from parental socialization, the family system, schools and cultural influence. Currently, the easiest and quickest [albeit, not fully harmless!] avenues are the social media tools, television and movies. For younger kids, especially, the last two ‘avenues’ mentioned before, have both a fast and deep impact on the children’s minds, and the way they begin developing their own concepts, affirmations and perceptions about their surroundings.

Children who are growing up under this modern ‘violence-influenced’ scenario, will likely tend to develop the understanding that violence is a regular [and maybe necessary] part of life, which could be extremely dangerous for our future generations.

Again, as a parent, I’m concerned with the loss of sensitivity when it comes to publicly offering free violence viewing to our kids, as if it were part of a healthy environment.

Is reality really as cruel as it’s perceived through the movies? Is it all necessary? What good is it bringing to the upcoming generations?

Too many questions, and not on single answer – at least, not from my parental and confused mind.

We’re all just trying to get by surviving one day at a time, and hoping that our children will turn out to be well-balanced, responsible and loving adults. That’s simply my hope; as much as I’d like to, I don’t have control over my children’s future. I can offer them advice and love, but can’t hide them inside a bubble, making sure they won’t get hurt or even hurt others. This ‘motherly bubble’ doesn’t exist, thankfully… Kids need to be kids and yet, need to experience life. Life as it is. Holywoodian life is not life, it’s not real. The ‘reality’ portrait by movies is not, in fact, real. And the violence offered by movies should always be perceived as what it really is: fiction… :o

 
16 Comments

Posted by on September 13, 2013 in children, expat, FAMILY, TCKs, technology

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

La Paz celebrates the Pedestrian Day – “Dia del Peatón”.

What a fantastic way to spend a Sunday. September 1st marked the Pedestrian Day, for the City of La Paz.

Families and their children, bikes, tricycles, scooters, skates took over the streets. No cars – and lots of healthy and peaceful fun! ♥ Below here, images from our [otherwise very busy on Sundays!] neighborhood:

LA PAZ SE PARALIZA DOMINGO PARA CELEBRAR EL DÍA DEL PEATÓN

Sólo podrán circular las movilidades autorizadas por el municipio, pero a una velocidad de 20 kilómetros por hora. Asimismo, está prohibida la venta y consumo de bebidas alcohólicas en espacios y vía pública desde las 00:00 horas del sábado hasta las 00:00 horas del domingo.

La Paz se paraliza este domingo para celebrar el Día del Peatón

El día del peatón/Foto ANF.
 
6 Comments

Posted by on September 8, 2013 in BOLIVIA, ecology, expat, FAMILY, photography

 

Tags: , , , ,

Guest Post: Island Life and the Pursuit of Diversity.

by Jessica Girard

Everybody deserves respect. As families this should be a value high up on our priority list as embracing diversity is not only important for helping children to respect other people, it also helps them to accept themselves and celebrate the variety of people the world has to offer.

Exposing ourselves to diversity not only widens our worldview it helps us better understand our connections to each other, helping us to become more globally aware.

The challenges of diversity

Opportunities to experience different cultures and embrace diversity can be somewhat limited when living within a small town, particularly when that small town is on an island, physically detached from the rest of the world.

This would be my experience of living in Guernsey, a small British island located in the English Channel, only 30 miles away from the coast of France. Now, when I say small, I actually mean tiny. The total area of the island is almost 25 square miles, which means you can drive around the entire island in about an hour!

[Image Credit] Wikipedia

I kind of have a love-hate relationship with the island. I love the beautiful scenery and the fact that the beach and the countryside are only a mere fifteen minute walk from my doorstep. 

I do however, hate the smallness of Guernsey, not only in size but sometimes in thinking. Small towns can have rather insular mindsets as there is often a (physical and mental) disconnection from life elsewhere. It would be fair to say that this can be true for Guernsey. Living here at times can feel like living in a bubble, there is limited choice and a lack of variety and this can be stifling (to me).

You could not describe the island as a culturally rich environment. Guernsey has a very homogenous population. The vast majority being white, middle class, Brits who, if they profess to any faith it would likely be Christianity as you will find over 50 churches on the island but not one mosque, synagogue or temple.

If variety is the spice of life, then Guernsey is lacking in flavor. 

There are expat professionals working on the island, however they tend to be on short-term licence (the Guernsey version of a visa) and stand little chance of gaining permanent residency. We do however, have a small but established Portuguese community on the island and a growing number of Eastern Europeans, mainly from Latvia and Poland which adds to the cultural mix. This growing cultural diversity is not welcomed by all and unfortunately these communities are often stereotyped, surrounded by stigma and alienated from mainstream life.

(Town Centre, Guernsey. Photo Credit: Visit Guernsey)

If not careful, the disconnection that many small towns like Guernsey have with the outside world and even the cultures within it, can lead to insular thinking and an ignorance of other world cultures. This in turn can lead to a lack of understanding and disrespect of diversity.

I have found that within the small town context the point is not only a matter of embracing diversity, but rather the fact that we need to pursue it in the first place. 

Foundations for pursuing diversity

Even in cosmopolitan cities people tend to gravitate towards homogenous communities. Small town dwellers therefore, have to be all the more intentional about pursuing diversity when there is less of it to go round.

Opportunities to immerse ourselves and our children in different cultural experiences may be rare but are worth pursuing, if we want to help our children grow to be compassionate global citizens.

As a family we have created five foundations that will hopefully help our family, and yours, in the pursuit of diversity.

1. Model relationships across cultures/religions/genders/abilities etc

One of the most important ways of promoting a culture of diversity is to show your comfort in relating with people of a different race, faith, culture, gender, age, ability and sexual preference. Children mimic their parents’ behaviour and if they can see you confidently interacting with people and celebrating your differences, they are much more likely to do likewise.

This also means not shying away from talking about differences, even in public. Children are naturally inquisitive and yes, their questions are sometimes poorly timed! Try to see these (awkward) situations as an opportunity for discussing and celebrating differences with your children. Shushing or distracting your child can actually make you appear unwilling to discuss these differences and can lead to your child thinking it is wrong to do so.

2. Be aware of your own ”diversity deficits”

It is important to be aware of what Christopher Metzler, Ph.D describes as, “diversity deficits”. No one is immune to making judgements and/or holding negative feelings about people who are different from ourselves. Whether it be a negative stereotype, judgemental attitude or apprehension of a particular country or people group, children can easily pick up on these. It is therefore even more crucial that we understand where these feelings may stem from so that we can avoid passing the “deficits” on to our children.

3. Breakdown stereotypes

Stereotypes are dangerous things. They label people unnecessarily and lead to people making judgements about entire countries, cultures, races and genders that can often be offensive and misleading.

It is important to work to breakdown these stereotypes, especially for children who are impressionable and still trying to understand the world around them. Removing books and toys that promote stereotypes is a good place to begin. Model positive language and listen to the words your children use and if necessary, discuss how their language could be hurtful.

4. Get out of your comfort zone

When living in a homogenous society it is important to try and get out your comfort zone and intentionally explore diversity.

There are many ways of doing this, most of which can be done in your hometown, here are some of the ways we have gotten out of our comfort zones:

  • Eat ethnic foods (preferably with people from that country) – we’ve eaten nsima (maize), the Malawian staple with Malawians living on island
  • Celebrate cultural events and religious festivals - We have joined our Chinese friends in celebrating Chinese New Year
  • Read multi-cultural books - We’ve gathered a small collection of books to read with our daughter that explore different countries, races, religions, genders and abilities.
  • Befriend and learn from expats in your community - We’ve made friends with some wonderful expats. The bonus being that we get to sample their cultures and challenge our own way of doing things, on a regular basis.

5. Create opportunities for discussion in the everyday

Gear your home up in a way that it naturally creates opportunities for discussions on diversity. Our daughter is only a baby so discussions are a little way off yet, but by bringing a little bit of the world inside our home we are developing a more culturally rich environment that will, in time, generate more questions.

In our home we create opportunities by having piles of travel books, maps and globes readily available to research countries, people groups and religions. We also have lots of hand crafted items on display, including handmade toys for our daughter to play with.

 
 [Photo Credit] Diversity MBA Magazine

 

The important thing to remember is that whether we live in a small town or multi-cultural city, when it comes to pursuing diversity, reading books and eating ethnic food, simply is not enough. Our attitude is what is important. We need to show our children (and communities) that we are intentionally trying to engage with people and promote social inclusion.

 

Have you experienced similar challenges of small town living? 

In what ways have you pursued opportunities for diversity?

Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Related articles

Bio:

Jessica Girard is currently a full-time mother and spare-time blogger over at The Open Home, where she writes about faith, mission, travel, world culture, simple living and getting back to nature.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on September 1, 2013 in children, expat, FAMILY, TCKs, TRAVEL

 

Tags: , ,

The emotionally resilient expat [by Linda Janssen].

Oh, well, why not mention here a great book that just came out [July 2013], by the author Linda Janssen?

And the reason for that? Linda interviewed several expats, families, collected their experiences, challenges, suggestions, stories and tales. All together, bound in one book – and I’m happy to say I’m one of the proud contributors to her compendium…

[insert a shameless smile here! :o]

My little 2 cents: lessons learned from our ‘nomadic life’ with the US Foreign Service – as a professional, a around-the-clock mother, a traveler, an FSO spouse… a serial expat… ♥

Happy reading!

Linda A Janssen, The Emotionally Resilient Expat

The Emotionally Resilient Expat: Engage, Adapt and Thrive Across Cultures

Living abroad offers enriching experiences of growth, broadened perspective, enhanced cultural understanding. Yet its transition-rich, change-driven, cross-cultural nature can place considerable demands, leaving us stressed, disconnected, our identity in flux. Building on existing literature and benefitting from recent developments in psychology and brain-body connections, The Emotionally Resilient Expat: Engage, Adapt and Thrive Across Cultures shows the key to successful transitions and beyond lies in emotional resilience to adapt, adjust or simply accept. Linda A. Janssen combines candid personal stories from experienced expats and cross-culturals, with a wealth of practical tools, techniques and best practices from emotional, social and cultural intelligence, positive psychology, mindfulness, stress management, self-care and related areas. FACTORS™ offers a way to live a healthier, more positive, emotionally engaged, culturally connected global life.

Curious to learn more about the book? Follow this link:

www.theemotionallyresilientexpat.com

REVIEWS

“Using personal story and solid theory in her groundbreaking book on emotional resilience, Linda A. Janssen guides those facing the challenges of cross-cultural living to dig under the initial rocky surfaces of overseas life to discover – and use – the rich gold of their own experience. A great resource for expats of all backgrounds.” Ruth E. Van Reken, Author, Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds

“Janssen’s work is sure to be a stand out in any expatriate or cross-cultural arena. She eloquently, articulately and incisively delves into areas previously considered taboo in order to highlight how we can all gain mastery over whatever life throws our way. I will definitely be referencing Janssen’s material when working with TCKs, expat parents and international students.” Tina L Quick, Author, The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition,www.internationalfamilytransitions.com

“A practical guide in the art of managing the risks of overseas life in ways that will promote endurance and effectiveness. Full of honest and hope-filled stories from the lived experience and life-long learning of Janssen and her dozens of expatriate contributors. An invaluable companion for expats who want to know that they are not alone.” Duncan P. Westwood, PhD, (C)OACCPP Clinical Director of Expatriate Care & Development, International Health Management

“As with any food rich in nutrition, this book is best sampled regularly and digested slowly.” Drs. Douglas W. Ota, NIP Psychologist, NMI Mediator, Family Therapist, www.dougota.nl

 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

Always in good company! 3rdCultureChildren among Multicultural Bloggers!

Image

Check the directory out at: http://www.multiculturalbloggers.com/

Multicultural Bloggers

 

Tags: , , ,

Blogpost ‘Place Holder’: Hiking through the ‘Muela del Diablo’, Bolivia.

muela del diablo

I know, I know…. Procrastination seems to be word of the moment… :o

Evnetually, I’ve gotta get the images from our recent hiking adventure out, the drive to the Muela del Diablo ["Devil's Molar", and its 150 meters, on a 3,800m of altitude]; but feel like we’re always caught up, keeping ourselves afloat while cruising through daily homework [kids], attending to the demanding toddler and obviously, going to work [outside the house, for the grown-ups!]

This wild rock ["Muela"] can be seen from almost every where in the southern part of La Paz. The giant appears steep und unapproachable right within its bizarrely shaped erosion landscape and green lands.

Muela del Diablo, Bolivia

For the time being, I’m leaving here a little ‘place holder’ for what’s to come. Hopefully, very soon. :o

And, as a bit of a spoiler [text borrowed from The Gadling], “Devil’s Tooth is an inactive volcano that is approximately 492 feet high. According to our guide, it got its name because indigenous people believed it looked like the tooth of Satan.

The command for our past Sunday was: “are you ready?” I’m sure these ones here were!

Muela del Diablo

More images to come in the near future… stay tuned!
Related:

http://strollingsouthamerica.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/hiking-la-muela-del-diablo/

http://en.wordpress.com/#!/read/topic/muela-del-diablo

http://triptobolivia.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/muela-del-diablo-y-valle-de-la-luna/

http://icsboliviavolunteers.wordpress.com/tag/muela-del-diablo/

http://hakanronnblad.com/2012/01/12/la-muela-del-diablo/

 

Tags: , , , ,

An open letter to my nomad children.

         Dear children of mine,

         I recognize you may be still too young to understand many of the things that go around in your life.

        I’m also aware that you may feel confused at times, when your mother and father come forward telling you we will have to move, once more.

       I feel and I know your pain, and your disbelief. I myself felt the same when back in Brazil – your grandparents would come to me and to your uncles, letting us know we would again, have to change schools, due to new job assignments and/or the economic situation.

       One day you will begin hearing and understanding a very powerful word – ‘Economy’. It has the ability to change scenarios, to split families up, and to alter planning. Times were different when your mother was growing up, than it is now for the three of you. Back then, your mother, the oldest of 3 children, learned to cook, clean and take care of your uncles, way before she was ready to begin middle school. 

        You, my children, will not have to face any of this.I was a nomad child without the realization of it. I learned to cope with family moves before having to deal with any ‘high school drama’, so familiar  to any teenager. There was no time, nor space for ‘teen drama’. Childhood is a very special place in time, and should be lived through. Hopefully, it will not happen to the three of you, my children.

       You will be presented with the opportunity to experience life on its fullest. You’ll have the chance to choose your paths, making your own mistakes and learning from them…

       Life’s been laid out in front of you, and despite also living a ‘nomad life’ because of your mother and father’s work style, you’ll confidently be shielded from most of the difficulties.

       Your father and I are cautious and attentive to any signs of distress – please come to us with your questions, your concerns, your troubles. We’ll try to help you, and offer advice, as much as we’re capable of. Please let us know when you’re sad, when you’ve been hurt, when your heart is unsettled…

       We’ll be there for you. We’ll offer you comfort and our arms. We’ll talk together, and if needed, we’ll cry together.

        I’m very happy for you, my children. This nomad life has taught me a great deal, and I feel capable of transferring some resilience to you. I’m not passing on any resentment, any sadness or hard feelings… I’m thankful with what life has offered me, and my gratitude will show itself on the way we’re raising the three of you. I’m grateful life has given me the opportunity to become your mother, your guide, your safe haven. I sincerely hope you’re not disappointed on me…

        You will grow to become worldly citizens, grounded and compassionate. That would definitely be the best reward to me, still working on my parenting skills, but trying my best not to fail…

                                                        With all my love,

                                                          Your mother.

my branching tree...

 
13 Comments

Posted by on August 14, 2013 in expat, FAMILY, LOVE

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Black & White to celebrate our friends’ second decade of ‘togetherness’!

Quite an accomplishment, I’d say. Especially in our present time, where marriages come and go with the wind… :o

Castillos Anniversary

Our proud friends were happy to celebrate their 20th Wedding Anniversary – in a fantastic style – Red for the Victorious Couple, and black & white for the guests!

My hope is that one day, husband and I will be repeating this… for our own anniversary. But for now, still looking forward to celebrate our first decade together – just a few months ahead of us! :o

 
 

Tags: ,

Reflections on the expat life, inspired by Buckminster Fuller: “I am not a noun, I seem to be a verb…”

IMG_5308

This is a third post on my ‘random thoughts‘ about bringing our children up into this ‘nomad world’ [first one discussed multilingualism and its approach as parents], especially when it comes to the diverse society they [children] are about to face…. any moment from now… the second post presented a discussion on the misperceptions on being a ‘serial expat‘; a nomad, a ‘rolling stone…. I’m sure there’ll be more posts to come – thank you all for reading, and for the continuous feedback on this [and other!] topics – the suggestions, comments and shared stories from other parents/travelers/expats have made this ‘blogging experience’ much richer. And I’m very grateful for all that.

The discussion on social diversity is not only part of our family’s daily life, but it also tailors the way we are raising our children, and the way we would like them to understand and perceive their surroundings.

Buckminster Fuller

Geodesic Dome, by Buckminster Fuller  (credit: Wikipedia)

For many children, expat life is an enriching, wonderful experience, but for many others, it is an unbelievably difficult time. Much is gained — language, travel, worldview, diversity – but there are very real losses — extended family, longtime friends, a sense of belonging. Some of the losses are unrecognized and unacknowledged until later in life…

As parents of TCKs, my husband and I try to be sensitive to their particular situation. Each child is different, and reacts to the uprootedness differently. Some are more sensitive, and others relish in it.

English: Cropped and flipped photo of young Bu...

Buckminster Fuller (credit: Wikipedia)

One thing we have always tried to be, however, is their anchor. Since their external life is in constant flux, we try to keep our family life constant and stable. We try to have our own habits and traditions, which, as it turns out, are a bit of a blend between the countries we inhabit. Yes, they [our kids] may be exotic to the kids around them, and again, each handles that differently. One thrives on that, another cringes, but it is what it is. We know that they would have a different perspective than we do as their parents…

Perhaps, the best way of handling the identity issue is to adopt the dictum of the late Buckminster Fuller: “I am not a noun, I seem to be a verb…”

Related articles

 
 

Tags: , , , ,

Raising Multilingual Kids Blogging Carnival: Hidden Opportunities

Originally posted on The Head of the Heard:

Welcome to the July edition of The Raising Multilingual Children’s Blogging Carnival.  This month’s theme was Hidden Opportunities where I asked people to submit blogs based on the unexpected occurrences of bringing up multilingual children.

Opportunities for the Kids

Spanish Playground opens up this month’s carnival with some encouraging news for anyone still struggling to teach two or more languages: she has been there and done that and now has three grown kids.  In her post Teaching my Children Spanish – A Few Observations Now that they Are Older she identifies the advantages they now have, some of which she never ever dreamed of when she started out on the road to bilingual education.

Came to Find – Vim Encontrar is nowadays a grown up bilingual English and Portuguese speaker.  She writes about the day that changed her life and all of the opportunities she has now…

View original 1,192 more words

 
3 Comments

Posted by on July 31, 2013 in expat, children, LANGUAGE, TCKs

 

Tags: , , ,

When you end up talking another language with your kids…

3rdCultureChildren:

Great reading about raising multilingual children!
Our community keeps on growing!

Originally posted on :

When you are multilingual and start having kids, you have to choose which language you’ll talk to your children. Linguists always recommend to talk your “mothertongue” to you children. But which is the mothertongue if you are perfectly bilingual? In my case: should I talk Italian or German to my kids?

When our son was born, we lived in Italy and as Italian is one of my mother tongues, it was very natural for me to talk Italian to him from the beginning. Our home languages were Italian (me and my son), Swissgerman (my husband and my son) and German (my husband and me) and we were convinced that he would pick up German automatically too.

When we moved to the Netherlands our son was 2.5 years old and he went to a dutch daycare twice a week since almost immediately. After two months he started to talk less and…

View original 596 more words

 
 

Tags: , ,

Raising children in the Foreign Service – a brief talk about diversity.

FSJOriginally published as a Letter to Editors [The Foreign Service Journal, March 2013].

Diversity at State: Helping our Children.

The value of diversity promotion in the State Department was well emphasized by EEO Counselor Krishna Das (Letters to the Editor, January issue). As a parent, I see the discussion regarding how we bring up our children within the diverse Foreign Service lifestyle as equal parts interesting, challenging, and crucial. It is, of course, necessary to serve as role models for our children right from the start, particularly in teaching the lesson that everyone, despite appearances or stereotypes, deserves respect.

As noted, State Department children are highly exposed to diverse cultures, and we as parents should demonstrate why this is such an advantage to their own growth as human beings.

Building a culture of diversity starts at home, a literal reality for many State Department families. We speak different languages, come from distinct cultural backgrounds, and practice different religions. And yet in most cases, our children are growing up in a culturally richer environment than we (parents) were brought up. Children in the Foreign Service live the concept of diversity and its social implications – on a daily basis.

Seal of the United States Department of State.

Seal of the United States Department of State. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That said, it is often necessary for us to question what is our role as parents in this process? How can we assist our children regarding the issue of diversity? It would appear as far as diversity is concerned, we need to be extra involved in their lives: listening to their stories, learning about their ventures and challenges adjusting to new, countries, discussing their questions and social frustrations, establishing a healthy communication channel, building positive identities and respect for differences. Further, we should seek ways to insert these concepts into the routines of our children’s everyday lives and help convince them through our actions that a society without discrimination is possible. It is critical for us parents and caretakers to develop ‘cultural sensitivity’ regarding our surroundings; otherwise, without specific cultural information, we may inadvertently promote practices and approaches that could counter other parents’ efforts.

One great piece of advice I once received was to “encourage your child’s friendships with others across race, ethnicity, class, religious practices, background and ability.”

The more personal experiences children have with other groups, the easier it will be to dismiss stereotypes and misperceptions.

******

Want to add to the discussion? Please feel free to share your comments/opinions/suggestions here!

 
 

Tags: ,

{Guest Post} Exploring Popular Perceptions about the “Serial Expat”.

by Chloe Trogden

In the Midst of This

In the Midst of This (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though more people are starting to travel for their job, and more people are embracing the idea of “lifestyle design,” the serial expat is still a relatively rare creature. Maybe you know someone who taught English in Asia for a year – I’m one of them – but few of us know people who spend their whole lives living abroad, maybe even bouncing from country to country, seeing the world while they work.

Perhaps because so few people actually know a serial expat, there are a lot of misconceptions about what serial expats are like and what their lives are like. Many of them are negative, though a couple are positive. Either way, they all miss the mark in some way. Here are a few of the myths about the serial expat compared to the reality of the expat lifestyle:

They Don’t Want to Grow Up

One of the most common perceptions about the serial expat is that they are Peter Pan types who don’t want to grow up. They party all the time, and they hold down a job only long enough to finance their next trip to some tropical beach where they can party the days and nights away. The perception is that serial expats can’t face the reality of a job and a mortgage and a family, so they defer the inevitable by literally dropping out and moving to another country.

The reality is that – just like with any group of people – this is true for some expats, but it is not true of them as a group. Many serial expats are working in serious jobs that are a part of achieving their long-term career goals. They are working in senior positions or working their way up to them. They are living the same kind of lives that anyone else lives – except they’re doing it in another country. In many cases, they may even be buying real estate or raising families.

They Can’t Commit

Serial expats are often thought of as serial bachelors. Many people think that they don’t want to commit to a partner, to get married, or to raise a family. The logic is that if they were settled down with a spouse and children, they wouldn’t be moving around to other countries – they’d be saddled with a mortgage State-side near their extended families.

However, the reality is that many serial expats are traveling with their partners and their spouses and that many of them have children. There are expats taking round-the-world trips as they homeschool their children. There are expats who are pursuing career opportunities as they put their children in English-speaking schools.

They Can’t Get “Real” Jobs

Going overseas to teach English is a popular choice for recent college grads who can’t find work in their home state – or who aren’t quite sure what they want to do for a career. Yet many people think that serial expats – especially teachers – decided to go overseas because they couldn’t or didn’t want to get “real” jobs.

The truth is that there are expats working in all types of jobs overseas. There are some working in NGOs, working as reporters at English daily newspapers, working as business leaders and so on. Even those working as teachers are working “real” jobs – many are committed to careers teaching ESL and developing curriculum.

They’re Adventurers

Expats are seen as adventurers who are traveling the world, learning about new cultures, tasting new cuisine, and meeting new people. Many people think that every day for them will bring something new and exciting. They may look to the lives of serial expats with envy.

There is some truth to this perception, as expats do get to experience many adventures and learn about new cultures and new people. However, every day doesn’t bring something new and exciting. Many expats are living the same kind of lives as their friends and family back home – going to work, paying bills, keeping doctors’ appointments and so on.

They’re Risk Takers

Many people think that moving to another country is a big risk and that only those who are spontaneous and used to taking risks will make that choice. While moving to another country may be a big risk for some, it’s not for others. There are many expats who consider the move to be on par with moving to another state for a job. They may be comfortable making the move yet be risk averse in other areas of their life.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for the expat lifestyle. There’s as much diversity in the expat community as there is in any other community. Perceptions are just that: Perceptions, not necessarily reality. The truth is that serial expats are living the same kind of lifestyles as any other group of people – just in a different location.

Bio:

Chloe Trogden is a seasoned financial aid writer who covers specific opportunities such as grants for school. Her leisure activities include camping, swimming and volunteer work.

What perceptions have you encountered about serial expats? Share your thoughts on them in the comments!

 
19 Comments

Posted by on July 24, 2013 in expat, foreign service, TRAVEL

 

Tags: ,

Identity, Tradition & Folklore in Bolivia: The Challa Ceremony honoring Pachamama and blessing a new home.

Learning a bit more about the Bolivian culture – part of my ‘unofficial duties’ as an expat and a mother… The harmonious relationship between the Indian population and the Mother Nature is very present in the handycraft industry, the musical folklore, and the religion. The worship dedicated to the natural divinities influences the daily life of the Indian community on the altiplano. Bolivians have a great respect and veneration of Pachamama, the goddess of the Earth. In her honor, offerings (challa) of small object with symbolic value are deposited or burned in the medium of incantations and prayers. There are lots of rituals dedicated to Pachamama, as for example, the construction of a new house must be preceded by a small blessing ceremony; another common ritual is before swallowing a glass of beer or liquor, one must honor Pachamama, while pouring a few drops on the ground.
A few months ago, family was invited to a friend’s house warming. The original couple has moved to Bolivia over a decade ago, and are strengthening their roots with this beautiful country, in more ways than one… They’re a loving, caring family, who has elected Bolivia as their home, and the home for their children.

As part of the ‘open house’ celebrations, the guests could appreciate a Challa Celebration, in honor of the new house, a new home for years to come. Sharing here are a few snapshots of this folkloric celebration, and wishing our friends and their family many years of happiness at their new home! ♥

Guests and their family members were invited to participate in the ceremony.

 
17 Comments

Posted by on July 16, 2013 in BOLIVIA, expat, photography

 

Tags: , , , , ,

{Updated} Raising Resilient Children.

Mother's Day Montesori School (6)diversity & resilience

Here’s a brief update on this blogpost – a book that just came out, from the author Linda Janssen, and from which I’ve learned a lot during this journey of ‘raising expat children’:

The Emotionally Resilient Expat – Engage, Adapt and Thrive Across Cultures 

**********************************************************************

I feel like I began this year on a very ‘introspective mode‘, rethinking life, our lifestyle, and the way we plan on leading it forward…

This is a third post on my ‘random thoughts‘ about bringing our children out [first one discussed multilingualism and its approach as parents; and the second one dealt with 'how to approach' diversity issues], especially when it comes to the heterogeneous society they [children] are about to face…. any moment from now… [find all interesting links to great discussions at the bottom of this post!]

For a child, especially the young ones, parents are their strongest link to the concepts of ‘reality‘ and ‘normalcy‘.
DSC_6128
 
That said, I recently found from Expat Child, a fantastic site for inspirations for any parent out there, even if they’re not ‘serial expats’ like our family:
[and my deepest appreciation to the site authors for bringing out such an interesting discussion!]
 

Five Quotes On Resilience

Picture of the Galapagos Marine Iguana with a Darwin quote on survival of the species

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. – Charles Darwin

Resilient children tend to have parents who are concerned with their children’s education, who participate in that education, who direct their children everyday task, and who are aware of their children interests and goals. Another important characteristic of resilient children is having at least one significant adult in their lives. – Linda F. Winfield

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. – Mark Twain

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: one is roots, the other is wings. – Hodding Carter

Self-esteem is the real magic wand that can form a child’s future. A child’s self-esteem affects every area of her existence, from friends she chooses, to how well she does academically in school, to what kind of job she gets, to even the person she chooses to marry. – Stephanie Martson

 
I don’t have answers for these questions, and maybe, secretly, would hope to find a few over here… from other expat/parents out there... I’m aware that we [parents] are all seeking answers, suggestions, so, I’ll echo my voice with many more… who knows? Comments/messages are very much appreciated, and more than welcome! “How are we [parents] working on raising more [socially] resilient children?”
Thank you!
 
 

Tags: ,

3rdCultureChildren:

I’m back. Back on blogging, back from a restful family R&R and just found this great piece. Loved her final comment, and felt so related to it, that decided to share it over here, with my dear readers/expats/travelers/nomad parents in the Foreign Service! And how cool is that we [the author and myself] share the same name - granted: my version is in Portuguese, a proud devotion to my roots – thanks, mom! ♥ 

Family life is important. More important than your/our [original] career decisions… once one’s got a family, decisions and changes in life need to take that into consideration! :o I remember myself being so afraid/concern to tell my [then] Post-Doctorate advisor on my [first] pregnancy, back in 2005, and fearing for his reactions… today, several years later, 3 kids and changing jobs at every post we’ve been assigned to live/work, there are no regrets. My career did change, and I believe, for better. I’ve become more adaptable, more adjustable, and with the always-needed flexibility, I’m more patient with myself, with my husband, and more understanding about his career. I believe we [as a family] have evolved, which is great. :o After that, life has taken us to many different places, and for sure, my career has changed. Quite a bit, I’d say. And I’m happy with that. I’m satisfied with the decisions we’ve made for our growing children, under the circumstances of being a ‘nomad couple’ with the Foreign Service.

Definitely, it’s worth a read – my favorite part, the original author’s [another mother/career/academic woman!] wrap-up comment: “I am not sure if I have been “parent tracked” but I do know that my family is important to me, and decisions about my or my husband’s professional lives will always take the well-being of our family and our marriage into account. We would not choose to have jobs that forced us apart, we want to remain close to our extended family if we can, and we want our children to have both of us present in their everyday lives. If that means that I make deliberate professional choices and pursue non-tenure-track or alternative-academic opportunities, I feel comfortable with that arrangement”…

Originally posted on rogue cheerios:

My husband bought me Mama, PhD as a graduation gift. He thought I would appreciate the stories about “motherhood and academic life.”  In under a week, I tore through the anthology.  Divided into four sections, the editors captured women’s stories about “The Conversation” whether to start a family, “That Mommy Thing” that competes with more scholarly pursuits, how “Recovering Academic[s]” fare after becoming parents, and the “Momifesto” that women create for themselves to guide their own professional and personal lives.

I felt comforted to read memoirs of women’s lives as they described their worry in revealing their pregnancy to their advisory committee, the schlepping and physical challenges of being pregnant on a big college campus, the swell of support or the lack thereof from different significant others in their lives, and the realization that life would never be the same after becoming a mother.  Each vignette was short…

View original 952 more words

 

Why I write? Why I share? [My personal Space]

Today’s Daily Prompt is Personal Space.

When I stop to think, ‘why do I blog?’ or ‘why do we share stories about your family experiences, our travels, our difficulties and joys while raising kids?’, I come back to the same answers:

I blog because, to me, it’s a personal experience. I have no ambitions to use the blog as some sort of ‘marketing springboard’, although, since along the years, it has become quite a forum for other expatriates, traveling families, members of the foreign service community… a safe place where I can express my views and takes on life, share our questions, seeking for answers and/or advice from others facing similar situations…

I’m a parent, and with my husband, we’ve built an interesting lifestyle for ourselves and for our growing children. We are diverse. We share different backgrounds, cultures, knowledges and lessons learned. We share our learnings with our kids. We speak different languages in our household… and everyone has to try all the different types of food mom and dad were brought up with! :o

We share the joy, the sad moments, the adventurous decisions… We share the concerns and we look for solutions. Among ourselves, within the expat community. We look for input from other families in the foreign service. We try to enjoy life, snapping shots along the way, and sharing those beautiful and unique images here. Hopefully, this ‘live journal’ will one day be useful to our kids, our worldly citizens, growing up as products of hybrid cultures – and if that happens, I’ll be very proud! ♥

That’s why I blog. I makes me happy to share, and at the same time, it keeps me going. It helps me cope with difficult situations, it helps me assist other families, and it gives me the so much needed reassurance that, despite all challenges, we are not alone. And we’ll never be alone… that’s one of the beauties and positive sides of the cybersphere! :o

And you, why do write, blog, share your very own ‘personal space’ with other bloggers, keeping the ‘blogsphere’ active and spinning? :o Some others have done their part, and, as expected, given away their reasons [see below]… thank you all for sharing!http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/daily-prompt-personal-space/

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Snapshots of Artistic Expressions in La Paz. Part III: Mujeres Artistas.

Sharing here a few images from the exhibit, at the Galeria de Arte Alternativa – by the neighborhood of San Miguel, La Paz – with art pieces [paintings and photography], courtesy of one of the participants, Mrs Susan Scanlon – my deepest appreciation to her as a wife, committed mother, artist and friend – thank you! ♥

Con un total de 40 obras realizadas en diferentes formatos, técnicas y con una amplia variedad de temática, esta muestra estará abierta al público paceño hasta el 22 de marzo.

 

Tags: , , , ,

‘Hardship Homemaking’: contributing to the collaborative blog…

Post originally prepared as a contribution to the Hardship Homemaking collaborative blog, which is a back to basics blog for recipes, tricks, and tips to make life overseas at hardship posts easier”. The blog is a collaborative effort, with several authors, each one sharing unique experiences and life backgrounds, most of them, with real examples of life in the Foreign Service, its implications, challenges and strategies to overcome them.

“Handling Fruits and Vegetables: Sanitary Tips

Living at hardship posts offers more than challenges to all ‘household managers’ out there. If offers us the opportunity to learn – through advice from our peers, through our own research, through experience and why not say, through mistakes – ours or someone else’s – while facing similar situations. A common concern among families living at hardship posts is ‘how to offer the best, healthiest diet to my family?’- and that includes not only how to “optimize” your grocery shopping budget, but how to ensure those beautiful fruits and veggies will be safe for consumption, even before they’re tossed in the fridge, or beautifully displayed on a fruit bowl!…” [continue reading]

Curious to learn more tips on this and other topics? Hope over to the Hardship Homemaking collaborative blog! Thank you for the interest…

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 6, 2013 in expat, FAMILY, FOOD, foreign service

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Raising children in the Foreign Service – a brief talk about diversity.

Screen shot 2013-03-03 at 6.53.28 PMOriginally published as a Letter to Editors [The Foreign Service Journal, March 2013].

Diversity at State: Helping our Children.

The value of diversity promotion in the State Department was well emphasized by EEO Counselor Krishna Das (Letters to the Editor, January issue). As a parent, I see the discussion regarding how we bring up our children within the diverse Foreign Service lifestyle as equal parts interesting, challenging, and crucial. It is, of course, necessary to serve as role models for our children right from the start, particularly in teaching the lesson that everyone, despite appearances or stereotypes, deserves respect.

As noted, State Department children are highly exposed to diverse cultures, and we as parents should demonstrate why this is such an advantage to their own growth as human beings.

Building a culture of diversity starts at home, a literal reality for many State Department families. We speak different languages, come from distinct cultural backgrounds, and practice different religions. And yet in most cases, our children are growing up in a culturally richer environment than we (parents) were brought up. Children in the Foreign Service live the concept of diversity and its social implications – on a daily basis.

That said, it is often necessary for us to question what is our role as parents in this process? How can we assist our children regarding the issue of diversity? It would appear as far as diversity is concerned, we need to be extra involved in their lives: listening to their stories, learning about their ventures and challenges adjusting to new, countries, discussing their questions and social frustrations, establishing a healthy communication channel, building positive identities and respect for differences. Further, we should seek ways to insert these concepts into the routines of our children’s everyday lives and help convince them through our actions that a society without discrimination is possible. It is critical for us parents and caretakers to develop ‘cultural sensitivity’ regarding our surroundings; otherwise, without specific cultural information, we may inadvertently promote practices and approaches that could counter other parents’ efforts.

One great piece of advice I once received was to “encourage your child’s friendships with others across race, ethnicity, class, religious practices, background and ability.”

The more personal experiences children have with other groups, the easier it will be to dismiss stereotypes and misperceptions.


Want to add to the discussion? Please feel free to share your comments/opinions/suggestions here!

 
 

Tags:

23 months of blogging, with over 120,000 visits… Thank you!

120,000 hitsMarch 2011 marked my very first blogpost: shared impressions from the world’s largest street carnival. It was obviously in Brazil, the country that lives and breathes popular festivities, and our assignment with the foreign service from 2010 to 2012.

From that point on, blogposts began to come out quite often, increasing the number of subscribers, comments, Facebook Page fans [over 230], Twitter followers [over 350], and blog followers [now at 983]. Being picked to be Freshly Pressed a couple of times by the WordPress editors was definitely a good burst on the social part of it, coupled with the recent popular vote for best Expat Blog about our current home, Bolivia; and the mention of being one of the best parental/family blogs for families wondering about life with kids in the foreign service, according to Gaddling, the world’s top travel blog. Many thanks! 

Screen shot 2013-02-27 at 8.40.18 AM

Today, another milestone was reached, having me surprised and pleased, finding out that our ‘family travel & photoblog‘ displayed over 120,000 visits.

Being passionate about your life experiences, sharing images and impressions, reporting what one sees happening around, somehow, pays back. At least, in the blogsphere… I’m inspired by the several bloggers who take part at the writing prompts, Weekly Photo Challenges, FrizzText and Jake Austria, probably being my very first inspiration (thank you both!); as well as, all the beautiful ideas shared by Ailsa, from ‘Where’s my Backpack?‘, with her travel theme challenges, and The Island Traveler, a parent, like many of us, who decided to share some beauty from their regular lives with the world…

Thank you all out there, parents, expats, bloggers, friends, for reading, commenting, following, and for offering a great deal of inspiration… blogging is fun! :o
What is your NEXT MILESTONE? Your Blog Milestone? Share here, if you care! Thanks!♥
 
12 Comments

Posted by on February 27, 2013 in expat, LANGUAGE

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy Birthday to our Valentine’s Day baby girl!

She’s not a baby anymore… better to say, she’s a young lady… a ‘señorita’:o

Like her parents, this young lady has already moved quite a bit…

She was not born in Rio de Janeiro, like her momma, not in Virginia, like her daddy. She did not have her Brazilian ‘vovó and vovô’  to welcome her into this world, nor her American ‘nana and abuelito’ to greet her when she first smiled… She was born 5 years ago, while our family was stationed in Mozambique, and was fortunate enough to have the unique Pretoria (South Africa) as her birth place.

Despite not having our families around, she was [and still is!] surrounded by love, through her parents’ friends, the extended family, and her now, personal friends in Bolivia.

This morning, before getting ready for school, still recovering from the very intense and fun Carnaval in La Paz, our girl came to our bedroom, holding her index finger upright: “Mommmy, would you believe we’re only ONE DAY away from my cumple?:o She’s right: Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and she knows it! For our family, this particular day will aways transcends all the commercialism, the consumerism associated with the date – it goes beyond that, it’s definitely, truly, unconditionally related to LOVE. The love between parents and their daughter…

We’re pleased, lucky and grateful for all the experiences we’ve been through, and we’re grateful for having had this intense, warm, active and loving girl into our lives for the past five years… Half a decade ago, husband and I received the best gift one could ever expect for Valentine’s Day: the birth of a baby girl! ♥ And, for the ones who may find hard to believe that there are no boundaries, limits nor geographical barriers for friendships, that little baby girl got some visitors… friends from DC [pictured below] came to meet her, while visiting South Africa… :o Our deepest appreciation for such a great demonstration of friendship! ♥

Baie Dankie, South Africa for such a wonderful Valentine’s!

Marcelas Birth 038

 
19 Comments

Posted by on February 13, 2013 in children, expat, FAMILY, foreign service, LOVE

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Photography: Isla del Sol, Bolivia.

IMG_5707

Trying an unusual blogging experience here!

I hope you’ll enjoy this post. Before you begin reading, let’s try this: “what do you expect to see through this post? What type of images come to your mind when you read ‘Isla del Sol’? ‘Bolivia’?please let me know your thoughts by dropping me a comment below: did the results live up to your expectations? – obviously, share your thoughts after checking all these beautiful images out!  Thank you!

This is the third post of a series on our visit to the main Bolivian town on the shore of Lake Titicaca. The previous posts focused on people and our perception of their lives, as well as our ‘on-foot exploration’ of the Copacabana town [missed the great images? No problem! Just hop over to the posts using these links: stop 1 & stop 2!]

From our home, La Paz, to the town of Copacabana, we drove some 172 kilometers, route including a ride on a Ferry Boat! Once in town, we took a 2-hour boat, packed with tourists, families, kids, to the mystic Isla del Sol, for an exciting and exhausting challenging (!!) 3 hour hike through the rocky mountains, towards the pre-Inca ruins, the Sacred Inca Labyrinth, and a well deserved stop at the intriguing ‘floating islands’ [islas flotantes], artificially established fish farms, restaurants & rest areas, for some delicious trout lunch! :o

According to Wikitravel, “Isla del Sol (“Island of the Sun“) is the largest island on Lake Titicaca, and part of Bolivian territory. An ancient holy site of the Inca, it’s easily reachable from Copacabana“. Considering I love to search for meanings, reasons, traditional explanations, I really loved to learn that, “the Inca [people] legend says that Viracocha, the bearded god who created the universe, emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca and created the sun at this location”… How can something get any cooler than this? :o That said, we’ve been to the place where it all began… or at least, the spot where the Sun was created! ♥

Lovely, right? And the images are a testimony of that… take a look and enjoy this journey with our traveling family!

The boat ride to the Isla del Sol… 

…and snapshots of the floating islands and the fish [trout] farms!

Learning a bit about the island and its features:

A full-day tour took two hours to get from Copacabana to Cha’llapampa, two and a half hours to see the museum and make a round trip hike to the Rock of the Puma, and back to the Inca Steps and two hours for the ride back to Copacabana.

It’s possible to hike from the Rock of the Puma back to Yumani (three hours) and catch the boat from there. Our family just could not do this, and we skipped the extra 3-hour hike, due to exhausted kids… But, our adventure was well-worthy:

  • Cha’llapampa, the town on the northern end of the island, is where the boat lets you off. The Gold Museum (Museo de Oro) displays Inca treasures which were discovered underwater off the island in the last decade.
  • The sights on the northern tip are ancient Inca sacred sites. The Rock of the Puma, or Titi Kharka, after which the lake is named.
  • A short distance from the rock is the Inca Table, a low platform fashioned of stone. which was supposedly used for human sacrifices. The Footsteps of the Sun nearby are a set of natural impressions in rock.
  • From Yumani on the southern part of the island, the Inca Steps descend down to the water. At the bottom is the Fountain of Youth.

Finally, once at the island, our hiking adventure through mysticism, tradition & culture!

 

Tags: , , , ,

Photo Journal: Cultural trip to Copacabana, Bolivia.


from La Paz to Copacabana

Typical lady from Copacabana. Photo taken in front of the Basilica of the Virgin of Copacabana, Jan 2013.

Typical lady of Copacabana, selling bread in front of the church. Photo taken at the Basilica of the Virgin of Copacabana

This is the second post of a series on the city of Copacabana, the main Bolivian town on the shore of Lake Titicaca.

The previous post focused more on people and our perception of their lives, the image on the right should give a pretty good first impression of what we found during our visit [if curious, hop over to the post using this link!]

Our path towards a very restful weekend. Bags packed, kids packed, car tank full. Let’s begin! ♥

172 kilometers to drive, route including a Ferry!

Leaving La Paz was a breeze! Not the heavy traffic we expected throughout El Alto, and as a bonus, some very interesting buildings along the way - see below!

IMG_5573

 

Our kids simply loved their ‘new way of moving’ along the Lake!

 

Our ‘home away from home’, Hotel Rosario do Lago Titicaca, a welcome respite in this funky beach town …. heavenly views, spacious rooms very tastefully decorated, modern and spacious bath, comfortable and beautiful beds. Food is fantastic with beautiful views overlooking lake and lovely gardens… Here is what we spotted from our hotel, while enjoying a cup of coffee [me] or a chilled beer [husband] – the magnificent Lake Titicaca:

hotel rosario del lago       Screen shot 2013-01-28 at 2.28.06 PM

 

The city was completely ready for pilgrims and tourists coming from all sorts of places. People seeking blessings, people honoring promises, people of faith and tourists. The colorful city of Copacabana had a special place for each and every one of them!

 

The street markets were a sure hotspot for visitors! Clothing articles, leather-made products, typical food, ‘the famous tostadas’ were among the offers!

 

Hiking options were also available to all, and again, the reasons varied with the will: adventure, faith, curiosity, photography… you name it! The views from up top the Calvary Hill are definitely priceless, and made us forget the difficulties climbing up through the 14 Stations [of the Cross] with a bunch of little kids!

 

Once at the top of the Calvary Hill, we were introduced to the popular Alasitas! Miniatures representing a wish. It could be a house, a job, a diploma, a car…even money! [they actually had miniature copies of dollar bills!]

 

People would buy their ‘product of desire’ and have it blessed by a priest [at the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana] or by a native yakiri… Some people chose both options, why not? :o

 

At the top of the Calvary Hill, it was time to enjoy the magnificent natural beauty around us: the Lake seemed endless, powerful, and yet, soothing. The deep blue colors from the waters mirrored the blue ceiling the sky was offering to all the ones brave enough to accomplish the walk up… ♥

 

After all this, were we tired? For a bit, we were, for sure. But we found enough energy to keep moving on, and exploring… an island! The Isla del Sol [Sun Island], a 2-hour boat ride away from Copacabana, with occasional stops at the ‘floating islands‘… But this will be part of an upcoming post… For now, just get back to the images, enjoy them, and if you wish, let us know what you think! :o Thanks for tagging along with our ‘traveling family of 5′!’

IMG_5663

[Spanish] Copacabana, región encantadora a orillas del Lago Titikaka, está situada a una altura de 3.841 m.s.n.m, y a una distancia de 155 km la ciudad de La Paz, que es la sede de Gobierno de Bolivia y la ciudad más importante del país.
El recorrido desde La Paz toma aproximadamente 3 horas y media por carretera asfaltada. Copacabana, casi es un paso obligatorio entre Cusco (Perú) y la ciudad de La Paz. 

Willing to travel? Check out this suggestion on cheap tickets from Flighthub!

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Photo Essay: People and Feelings of Copacabana, Bolivia.

Typical lady from Copacabana. Photo taken in front of the Basilica of the Virgin of Copacabana, Jan 2013.

Typical lady of Copacabana, selling bread in front of the church. Photo taken at the Basilica of the Virgin of Copacabana patio, where she patiently waited for the Mass to end…

 

This is the first post of a series on the city of Copacabana, the main Bolivian town on the shore of Lake Titicaca. It’s an amateur attempt to capture more than just images, landscapes and hotspots from the enormous Lake Titicaca and its surroundings – it’s an experiment to enter people’s lives and understand their feelings… That’s why it’s being called ‘People and Feelings of Copacabana‘.

DSC_7746

DSC_7756

[Spanish] Copacabana, región encantadora a orillas del Lago Titikaka, está situada a una altura de 3.841 m.s.n.m, y a una distancia de 155 km la ciudad de La Paz, que es la sede de Gobierno de Bolivia y la ciudad más importante del país. El recorrido desde La Paz toma aproximadamente 3 horas y media por carretera asfaltada. Copacabana, casi es un paso obligatorio entre Cusco (Perú) y la ciudad de La Paz. 

Religion, devotion, faith – many names for the several different ways of approaching what’s believed to be a stronger, powerful protective force… People seeking blessings, seeking help, seeking guidance…

IMG_5624
IMG_5669

The town has a large 16th-century shrine, the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana. Our Lady of Copacabana is the patron saint of Bolivia. As part of our trip, we also visited the Isla del Sol, and appreciated the long and heartwarming hike through the rocky paths, up to the pre-Inca ruins – sensations and feelings, were everywhere…

IMG_5707

DSC_7789

DSC_7768

More still to come on our recent family 4-day road trip, but for now, let’s begin with these very personal and intimate photo shots… Hope you are all able to perceive the same sensations we got… ♥ Let us know!

IMG_5663

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Snapshots of Artistic Expressions. A visit to the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo in La Paz.

IMG_5563

Art galleries in La Paz have been springing up like cactus flowers after the rains.

Many are within an easy walk from one another. Is there a better way for getting to know the beauties (and resources) this colorful city offers?

Now, that I’m comfortable enough to walk around the city, I’ve begun a series of posts about art in the city, this one being the result of an afternoon visit to a current Art Exhibit at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo ‘Plaza’in La Paz.  Oh, the temporary advantages of being a ‘stay-home-mom’!

Got some free time to explore, what about nicely educating yourself on the country’s history, art and endless man-made beauty? I’ve got, and I’m slowly educating myself... through art and history! :o

[All images provided here were taken by me - with permission].

IMG_5566

Still curious for more?

Find below a list of gallery websites, and/or related resources:

Bolivian Painter Claudia Soria
Online gallery of paintings by Bolivian painter Claudia Soria.

Bolivian Painter Emma Rosario Imana de Murguia
Biography of the artist and some art work samples (Italian).

El Retorno de los Angeles
Amazing online exhibition of Bolivian baroque paintings (angels, archangels, virgins and saints).

Galería de Arte y Cultura de Bolivia
Art and culture gallery. Paintings, masks, enbroideries, books, and videos for sale.

Jorge Crespo Berdecio
Artist in metal work, serigraphy, xilography, and lithography.

Jorge Hurtado’s Fine Art Gallery
Works in fine arts, illustration, and graphic design. Nice site.

Mamani Mamani
Collection paintings catalogued by theme: mothers, flowers, archangels, birds among others.

Marcelo Videa – Surrealismo Apechurrado
Surrealist art. Paintings, drawings, sculptures, and ceramic.

Orlando Arias Morales
Creative ecstasy in the works of Bolivian painter Orlando Arias Morales. Portfolio.

Paula Lopez – Art Gallery
Resume, exhibitions and pictures.

Pedro Portugal
Bolivian artist. Paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and murals.

Sanjines Art 
Website for Bolivian Artist and Photographer Marcelo Sanjines.

Taipinquiri
Culture, architecture, and arts center. Paintings, sculptures and books.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 23, 2013 in ART, BOLIVIA, expat, foreign service, TRAVEL

 

Tags: , , ,

Photo Project: 52 Bolivian Sundays [week 3, 'Beyond']

IMG_5569With at least a post a week for 2013, which I’m calling “52 Bolivian Sundays”, I keep moving forward with the plan to share my [photo] impressions about our surroundings, the culture we’re currently calling ‘ours’, the place we’ll call home for the next year and a half…

IMG_5570Today, for the third Sunday of 2013, I’m sharing one of photo I snapped during a recent visit to a local Art Exhibit in town. The photo responds to the weekly photo challenge, “Beyond“, trying to answer to: “Do you have a photo which invites the viewer to look beyond?”

Leading the readers through the story in the photo. What do YOU SEE BEYOND the picture? :o

This is s very powerful picture, an oil painting, part of this months current Art Exhibit at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo ‘Plaza’, in La Paz [more images from my visit to the museum to come later this week, after we return from our family escape to the Lake Titicaca!].

The image has many possible meanings/interpretations, although I believe there’s not doubt about its powerful impact/reaction… The picture portraits the image of a kid, maybe in despair? And, at the same time you find yourself looking at the helpless face of this boy, you discover the image is being ‘ripped off’ from its reality, which brings us to the questions:

‘Is it all real?‘Is all the pain portrait here, simply an illusion?’ Is the image a symbol of a lost childhood?’

What about you? What are you seeing beyond the painted image? ♥

Original posts from Photo Project:

 
 

Tags: , , , ,

Embracing Diversity as an Expat: Raising Children in the Foreign Service.

IMG_5308

I feel like I began this year on a very ‘introspective mode‘, rethinking life, our lifestyle, and the way we plan on leading it forward…

This is a second post on my ‘random thoughts‘ about bringing our children out [first one discussed multilingualism and its approach as parents], especially when it comes to the diverse society they [children] are about to face…. any moment from now…

The discussion on social diversity is not only part of our family’s daily life, but it also tailors the way we are raising our children, and the way we would like them to understand and perceive their surroundings.

Being a foreign-born spouse, who has moved out of Brazil over a decade ago, constantly traveling because of work and family life, I had to learn early that, the need to readjust and reinvent oneself is a critical part of the adaptation process in a foreign country. I’m also a parent, and often find myself trying to answer a few questions, to my own children, as well as, to other parents facing similar challenges: “What can I do to help my children around the issue of diversity?” And, in fact, how ready is our society to embrace diversity? 

IMG_5292

Life as an expat has shown me that we (parents) are the only ‘constant‘ on our children’s lives. Childhood friends come and go, depending on their parent’s jobs. Schools change. Countries, cultures, music, social patterns and expected behaviors last as long as one’s post assignment does.
 
For a child, especially the young ones, parents are their strongest link to the concepts of ‘reality‘ and ‘normalcy‘.
Over time, children will learn who they are and what to do through these experiences – absorbing a sense of their routines, traditions, languages, cultures, and national or racial identities – at their own pace, creating their very particular ‘hybrid culture‘, assuming their own identity, as unique social beings.
 
We are diverse, we speak different languages in our household, we come from distinct cultural and/or religious backgrounds… and our children could not be any different from that narrative. Our children are coming up as divergent individuals, in a much richer way than we (parents) were brought up. We are all very unique, and that notion needs to be reflected not only on the job represented by our officers (and their families) overseas, but also, through our own behavior as social creatures.
 
Diversity brings innovation and creativity. It’s important for us, parents, to add to our home environment, so it is reflective of other (cultural, racial, ethnic, family style) groups. It’s critical to express pride in our own heritage. Building positive identities and the respect for differences, would mean inserting these concepts to the routine of children’s everyday lives.

I don’t have answers for these questions, and maybe, secretly, would hope to find a few over here… from other expat/parents out there... I’m aware that we [parents] are all seeking answers, suggestions, so, I’ll echo my voice with many more… who knows? Comments/messages are very much appreciated, and more than welcome!

That said, what is our role as parents? How could we help our children regarding diversity? One of the suggestions is that we need to be constantly involved in their lives. Listening to their stories, learning about their ventures and challenges adjusting to new/unknown realities. We need to devote a great deal of patience for establishing a healthy communication channel within our household, and between all the levels of our (expatriate) community; opportunities will present themselves at the school, at the work level, at social events where children may take part… . It’s necessary to talk to our children about differences, in a very understanding and respectful way. Let us be resourceful and take advantage of the diversity around us.

One of the advantages this life as expatriates offers to families is the possibility to enroll our children in international schools. It’s already been discussed that students who attend schools with a diverse population (student body, faculty, staff) are capable of developing an understanding of the perspectives of other children’s backgrounds, learning to function in a multicultural, multiethnic environment.All of us are born free of biases, (un)fortunately, we tend to learn them as we grow. Is it a totally negative aspect of our lives? Could we turn our ability to make social judgments into a positive impacting tool? Let the discussion begin! :o

 

Tags: , , , ,

The Big Move: shared from the HuffingtonPost

Moving homes can be one of the most stressful times in someone’s life. Does it always have to be such a nightmare, or can there be a breezy move?

Originally aired on January 14, 2013

Hosted by:

  • Nancy Red
  • WOW: Moving is the 3rd Most Stressful Life Event
    Moving is a big source of stress for many Americans every year. And it’s listed as the 3rd most stressful life event.View Original

     

     
    2 Comments

    Posted by on January 14, 2013 in expat, FAMILY, foreign service

     

    Tags: ,

    Photo Project: 52 Bolivian Sundays [week 2, 'Illumination']

    IMG_5529

    Today, for the second Sunday of 2013, the chosen photo is inspired by the weekly photo challenge, “Illumination“, and is a little remembrance of the way the city of Nuestra Señora de La Paz greeted the New Year of 2013… Illumination brings rebirth, reinvention, rejoice!

     “Lights are functional — everyday objects in our rooms and on our streets. Yet lights can be powerful symbols: signs of life, curiosity, and discovery…”

    Original post from Photo Project:

     
    33 Comments

    Posted by on January 13, 2013 in BOLIVIA, expat, photography, TRAVEL

     

    Tags: , , , , , ,

    “You’ve been Freshly Pressed… Again!”

    freshly pressed

    I’ve been blogging for exactly 22 months [the first post went live on March 11, 2011, about the Largest Street Carnaval in Brazil – and apparently, it didn’t take long to be picked up by Pop Pressed‘s radar, on March 2011. Link here for full post]. 

    But it’s always nice to get that sweet email from the WordPress editors… Especially, for the second time.. what are the odds? :o Thank you all for reading! ♥

    A bit of Math here [and my former Algebra students who thought they were free from this!]: The chances of being Freshly Pressed are, on any given day, about 12 per million. Well, considering that just happened for the second time, it brings the odds to… 1 in 6,400,000,000

    Maybe I should move on to playing the lottery?!

    Curious about the ‘map it out post’? HERE it is! 

     

    Tags: , , , ,

    It’s [Girls Scout] Cookie time! [Sharing information from The Dinoia Family]

    This community we’re part of [Foreign Service] is all about networking and sharing… sharing information, advice, comments, experiences… In sharing, we all become stronger, and able to keep moving forward! :o That said, I’m now sharing some information learned from The Dinoia Family‘s Blog, about this year’s Girls Scout Cookies Initiative, involving a couple of other very active ladies [and their daughters!] from the FS community – definitely, a great one! And I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be sharing their initiative and efforts! :o

    Quoted from The Dinoia Family’s blog:

    “Yep…it’s cookie time!

    Girl Scout cookies are back and we are on those orders!  In fact, this year, we are working together with Jill and Riley to spread the cookie goodness far and wide throughout the Foreign Service.  We have made it terribly easy to enjoy those once-a-year treats that you buy en masse because they are so darn yummy (and ship well!).

    To make it easy, I have copied the “how to” from Jill’s blog.  Follow these simple instructions and you, too, could be enjoying those cookies very soon!  And now…Spanish homework is calling again…

    Want cookies?  Read the excerpt from Jill’s post below and just follow the instructions!

    First and foremost, we don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, so our joint efforts are focused on providing Girl Scout Cookies solely to our Foreign Service friends overseas, where we can ship to an APO/FPO/DPO or pouch address.  If you are our family members or personal friends and want to buy from us rather than from the little girlies who are SURE to knock on your door sometime in the next few months, that’s great too.  But we’ll take care of you outside of this joint venture.
    Just like the last few years, the cookies are only $4 / box … with all your favorites returning!
    • Thin Mints
    • Samoas
    • Thank You Berry Munch
    • Trefoils
    • Dulce de Leche
    • Tagalongs
    • Do-Si-Dos
    • Savannah Smiles
    Here’s how to order:
    1) Attempt to narrow down how many boxes you want (versus how many boxes your eyes and stomach want.)
    2) Send an email to DSforGS@yahoo.com by Friday, January 18th, with …
    * Your Name
    * Your Post
    * Your Address
    * Exactly how many of each kind you’d like
    3) When the cookies come in, send us your payment via paypal, and we’ll get them out to you ASAP.  We’ll send you an email invoice letting you know your totals.
    It’s THAT simple.
    We will be shipping the cookies in the USPS Flat Rate boxes. The current APO/FPO rate is $13.45 for a 12″ x 12″ x 5 1/2″ box … and we can fit 8 boxes of cookies in them.  And as an incentive … you pay the first $10 / box, and we’ll pick up the rest!
    A wee bit of additional information  …
    ** If you are at a post overseas, pass along this information to any of your friends.  We would LOVE to outfit your entire Consulate or Embassy.
    ** Consider combining orders with your friends to help reduce shipping costs.
    ** Between the two families, our girls sold over 1100 boxes of cookies to 50+ countries during the last two years to FS personnel.
    ** We set up the DSforGS@yahoo.com email address so that we could make it easy to get more cookies shipped out to more places.  If you know either of us personally and want our daughters to send out your cookies – no worries.  Just say so in your email.  Otherwise, we have divided up the world behind the scenes so that all you need to do is send in your order, and let us take care of the rest!
    Now what are you waiting for?  Happy ordering!”
    Please hop back to Jen Dinoia‘s blog for more information! Thank you!♥

     

     

    Tags: , , , ,

    {Weekly Writing Challenge} Map it out!

    Moving as an expat…

    [Backstory, inspiration from WP] “As bloggers, we scan through photos and descriptive tales from our fellow writers who share their travels with us… Maps symbolize the places we’ve been, the places we want to go, and the places we’ll end up, even if we don’t know it yet…”

    That said, I’m taking up on the challenge, and ‘mapping out’ the places in my life. Just the important, ‘life event’ moves. A couple years back when I began blogging, I decided to name this blog, representing/expressing what my [now 3] kids are: the product of their mom’s and dad’s hybrid/joined cultures. Moving is part of our lives, and was part of mine way before meeting the so-called ‘best-half’. Maps are a frequent guest at my posts, and this time, responding to the challenge, I’m ‘mapping out my life’, the moves I’ve endured as a nomad child back in Brazil, the ones leading me to a new path as an expat, mother and ‘trailing spouse‘… ♥

    The beginning: ‘this child is born’, in a small Japanese colony, in Southeastern Brazil:

    Itaguaí, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Itaguaí, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    The original family moves to the nation’s capital, for a fantastic couple of decades of friendships, schooling, learning, growing, language, cultural and life experiences:

    Professional opportunities keep leading that grown child to keep moving up… and North!

    Life presents itself in very strange ways... and sometimes, love, personal life & work seem to agree with each other… a few fortunate moments, that one must take advantage of… and move on! Again, keep moving up… and North! The new home, now officially an expat, the “D” city indicated by the map – working as a foreign research fellow, in Davis, CA.

    One day, we all come to the realization that it’s necessary to say ‘YES’ to a lifetime commitment… and so I did! And the acceptance brought me to a new address, some 2,800 miles away, to new work opportunities, to a new life as a spouse:

    What happens when a ‘nomad child’ marries another ‘nomad spirit’?

    Well, they move, together with their first ‘world citizen‘! This time, as a ‘trailing spouse’ and a mom, I’m going back South… to Southern Africa

    It came time to welcome our second child… so then we moved to a neighboring country, for a little while…

    We were done with our work in Africa, and had to return to our original home. Back in Washington DC, before heading out to our next adventure… From “A” to “B”, landing in “C”, and welcoming our third child into the world [of traveling!]:

    But since we’ve got ‘itchy souls‘, common to world travelers, we may not stop… We’re always moving, and as a result of work, lifestyle and adventurous minds, we find ourselves in a different place, the beautiful country of Bolivia… for now! :o Thanks for following us, and… what about you? What is YOUR JOURNEY? Feel free to leave a link at the comments section for others to ‘live thru your experiences’!! :o

    Related: Writing Challenge: Map It | Fi’s Mutterings & Mumblings

     

    Tags: , , ,

     
    The Greene & The Miranda Families

    a personal genealogy weblog

    from laura, with love

    life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

    theloneshewolf

    I'm really not sure yet

    jessicasanesm's Blog

    Deja que el sol ilumine las palabras que no puedes encontrar!!

    Catching Up With Daphne

    Expect the Unexpected

    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 4,808 other followers

    %d bloggers like this: