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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

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The endless challenges of raising multilingual kids…

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

This is another example of my many moments of introspective thoughts… This is one of those days when I try to understand [and accept!] the decisions we’ve made for our lifestyle, the way we’re raising our children, the kind of education parameters we [husband and I] need to make available to them… As part of the educational tools my children need to be exposed to, are, for sure, the language/communication/social expression tools.

I’ve already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of…

My children are surely enjoying their school break – another 2 full weeks to go, and they’ll be back at a familiar environment – an international school, surrounded by Spanish speaking classmates, and other expats, mainly from neighboring South American countries, a few European reps, and the well-known US-American crowd.

All fun and games, until it came to reinforce the endless/continuous need for them [my kids] to keep speaking Portuguese at home. Since I spend several hours at work, I’m not with them to ‘remind’ my lovies the importance of keeping up with ‘mommy’s language’…

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They speak to the nanny in Spanish, to other American kids in English. The TV is mostly in English, with a few Spanish options. I’m their only link to Portuguese, right now - and I feel it’s my duty to stress the rule of  ‘if mom is home, you should only talk to her in Portuguese, as well as, to each other”.

Guess what’s happening? The rule is definitely off. We [parents] had it all planned out: our kick-off was the One Parent One Language (OPOL) method, where one parent speaks the minority language, which would be, in my case, Portuguese. My husband would have the kids started in Spanish [his father's mother tongue], and gradually move on to English [husband's mother's tongue], as school moved on and our children required a deeper knowledge of English… We knew their/kids’ brains are hard-wired for language acquisition and children up to three years old easily process both languages.

Our 3 children had an early ‘linguistic’ start. They’re now 8; 6 and 3 years old – and were introduced to different languages as early as their birthdate. Soon, our family will be transitioning from our current Spanish-speaking setting, to a Brazilian Portuguese scenario… how would my kids [re]adapt? What would be the social, emotional, psychological impacts this imminent move may bring? Only time will tell us…

José Saramago

José Saramago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right now, it seems not to be working. Maybe, it’s because we’re tired at the end of the day? Or because the kids see me talking to their dad in English; and to their day-time nanny in Spanish, they believe it’s okay to leave Saramago‘s language aside, and completely pretend they don’t know Portuguese [??].

So here I am, asking for suggestions [??], trying to figure out an easy [and painless] way out… ,

I’m always on the lookout for interesting resources for supporting our toddlers’ learning, I stumbled upon this very interesting article from Multilingual Living, which I’ve shared here before.

From our “tentative trilingual home” to yours… Thank you for reading… and for any suggestions that come our way! :o

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2014 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs

 

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

Originally posted on expatsincebirth:

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…

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

 

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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…

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A few thoughts on ‘bilingual homeschooling’.

Already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of… 

There’s also a very interesting/challenging/poking article from CNN, bringing out the discussion on a study about ‘lifelong bilinguals’ {Study: Bilinguals Have Faster Brains} and the development of their brains… also, worth to check it out [I clearly did, it's part of who I'm... that said, I had no other option but to join the discussion forum with my 2 cents growing up as a nomad child, and now a 'trailing spouse' and mother to 3 TCKs].

According to Corey Heller [the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine], “Home languages almost always take a severe blow the moment our children walk through the schoolhouse doors. 

All of a sudden, our children are surrounded by peers, teachers, administrators (even the janitor and bus driver) all day long who speak nothing but the community language.  Our children quickly learn that this “school language” is essential for functioning in society and thus begins the home language–school/community language dichotomy (to the distress of many a dedicated parent). However, not all families experience this abrupt change once their children are school age. What is their secret?” 

Well, the answer presented by the Multilingual Living author is that parents “choose to educate their children at home and avoid the whole transition all together”.

Personally, we’re trying to get the best of the two worlds: our 2 elementary children attend an international school in Bolivia, where most of the classes are in English, with the optional Spanish as a ‘bonus’ class. The playground language is Spanish. Homework is done in English. I try my best to only speak to the children in Portuguese, and my husband does the same, regarding Spanish. I guess, we’re doing the ‘part-time homeschooling’!

Back to the ‘inspirational article’, “For most families, homeschooling is not about recreating the classroom at home. It is about creating something absolutely brand new and unique; about fostering an environment which is conducive to learning, regardless of material, location or method…” I agree with the author, and just wish I/we could replicate that in our own household! :) And why I say that? Because it’s hard, despite the endless efforts from the parents,

bilingual homeschoolers use an array of resources for learning different subjects. What is most important are the results that come from learning a subject, e.g. being able to read and comprehend what is read, compute mathematical equations on varying levels, write a well-researched and well-argued essay, be familiar with world geography and history, and put the scientific method into practice – all of which progresses and matures as our children develop their knowledge and skills…”

And as the author wraps it up, we’re left with a great advice:

How to Homeschool in more than one Language:
“Each family will need to come up with their own bilingual homeschooling plan based on their languages and subjects which they plan to cover.  Family members must also decide who will be teaching which subjects in which language and when. Planning is probably the hardest part so families need to make sure they find as many resources as they can – general books on homeschooling as well as books in the target language which can be used for specific subjects”.

That said, we’ll keep on trying to assist our children with homework, school projects, reading/writing responses, using not only English. Math problems could be described and explained using my Portuguese. The joy of seeing my son resolving a problem/understanding a text excerpt and writing down the answers in English, carries a totally especial feeling for me. It shows the innate capacity to adapt, to adjust, and to develop a very personal way of thinking, of expressing himself

Leaving you all with nice words of support, from Corey Heller: “The decision to homeschool bilingually can be a frightening one but with enough preparation, support and motivation you can make it a successful one for you and your family.”

If you liked this piece, please take a moment and go visit Multilingual Living website. It’s a very good resource for parents of TCKs, homeschooling parents, or any parent concerned about improving their children’s learning skills, without loosing track of reality. From our “tentative trilingual home“, to yours…♥

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More?

Benefits of Multilingualism

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2013 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs

 

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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

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

 

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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.

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

 

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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

 
 

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Always in good company! 3rdCultureChildren among Multicultural Bloggers!

Image

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

Multicultural Bloggers

 

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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

 
 

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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…

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3 Comments

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

 

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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 expatsincebirth:

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…

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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!

 
 

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Challenges of raising bi/multilingual kids…

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of…

My children are surely enjoying their school break – another 2 full weeks to go, and they’ll be back at a familiar environment – an international school, surrounded by Spanish speaking classmates, and other expats, mainly from neighboring South American countries, a few European reps, and the well-known US-American crowd.

All fun and games, until it came to reinforce the endless/continuous need for them [my kids] to keep speaking Portuguese at home. Since I spend several hours at work, I’m not with them to ‘remind’ my lovies the importance of keeping up with ‘mommy’s language’…

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They speak to the nanny in Spanish, to other American kids in English. The TV is mostly in English, with a few Spanish options. I’m their only link to Portuguese, right now - and I feel it’s my duty to stress the rule of  ‘if mom is home, you should only talk to her in Portuguese, as well as, to each other”.

Guess what’s happening? The rule is definitely off. We [parents] had it all planned out: our kick-off was the One Parent One Language (OPOL) method, where one parent speaks the minority language, which would be, in my case, Portuguese. My husband would have the kids started in Spanish [his father's mother tongue], and gradually move on to English [husband's mother's tongue], as school moved on and our children required a deeper knowledge of English… We knew their/kids’ brains are hard-wired for language acquisition and children up to three years old easily process both languages.

Our 3 children had an early ‘linguistic’ start. They’re now 7.5; 5.5 and 2.5 years old – and were introduced to different languages as early as their birthdate.

José Saramago

José Saramago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right now, it seems not to be working. Maybe, it’s because we’re tired at the end of the day? Or because the kids see me talking to their dad in English; and to their day-time nanny in Spanish, they believe it’s okay to leave Saramago‘s language aside, and completely pretend they don’t know Portuguese [??].

So here I am, asking for suggestions [??], trying to figure out an easy [and painless] way out… ,

I’m always on the lookout for interesting resources for supporting our toddlers’ learning, I stumbled upon this very interesting article from Multilingual Living, which I’ve shared here earlier.

From our “tentative trilingual home” to yours… Thank you for reading… and for any suggestions that come our way! :o

 
10 Comments

Posted by on July 17, 2013 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs

 

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{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!
 
 

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Random thoughts on my life as a ‘rolling stone’…

directions

Here is the question:

If you could live a nomadic life, would you? Where would you go? How would you decide? What would life be like without a “home base”?”

And here, the tentative answer:

Oh, well, I guess I already live a ‘nomadic life’…  Early this year I tried to ‘map it out’, describing the different places I’ve lived, as a growing child in Brazil, due to my parents work duties; later, as a researcher, and finally, as a spouse “married into the Foreign Service“, raising our three third-culture children, in a much similar nomadic way I’d been brought up!

I fell like this ‘circle’  will never end… and… why should it? :o

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 ‘better-half’.

I could define myself as a ‘serial expat’, but in a very positive way. The idea of being a ‘rolling stone’ always attracted me, and I was lucky enough to find a match who shared the same ‘itch’… we can’t stay put for long! :o

And the best part: we’re not alone in this type of lifestyle. Recently, the movie Argo brought out  a side of the Foreign Service that only few knew about – and it made us happy. It has made us proud. We’re proud to be ‘that type of nomads‘…

There are so many bloggers sharing their life stories, experiences, travels and joys about the foreign service! They talk about learning new languages, new cultures, adapting/adjusting… moving, and re-adapting… Some time ago, I wrote about an intriguing reality: “moving is the third most stressful life event“… for real! :o

Again, the circle does not end… why should it? We embrace the nomadic life… and welcome the changes!

Thanks for the inspiration! ♥

 
12 Comments

Posted by on July 8, 2013 in foreign service, TCKs, TRAVEL

 

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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/

 

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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!

 
 

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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

 

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“To have a second language is to possess a second soul” (Charlemagne)

Already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of… Recently, CNN brought out an interesting/challenging/poking discussion on a study about ‘lifelong bilinguals’ {Study: Bilinguals Have Faster Brains} and the development of their brains… also, worth to check it out [I clearly did, it's part of who I'm... that said, I had no other option but to join the discussion forum with my 2 cents growing up as a nomad child, and now a 'trailing spouse' and mother to 3 TCKs].

I’m always on the lookout for interesting resources for supporting our toddlers’ learning, I stumbled upon this very interesting article from Multilingual Living, which I’m sharing below.

A very good resource for parents of TCKs, homeschooling parents, or any parent concerned about improving their children’s learning skills, without loosing track of reality.  From our “tentative trilingual home” to yours

Good reading!

Benefits of Multilingualism

By Michał B. Paradowski
Institute of Applied Linguistics,
 University of Warsaw

The advantages that multilinguals exhibit over monolinguals are not restricted to linguistic knowledge only, but extend outside the area of language. The substantial long-lived cognitive, social, personal, academic, and professional benefits of enrichment bilingual contexts have been well documented. Children and older persons learning foreign languages have been demonstrated to:

  • have a keener awareness and sharper perception of language. Foreign language learning “enhances children’s understanding of how language itself works and their ability to manipulate language in the service of thinking and problem solving”; 
  • be more capable of separating meaning from form;
  • learn more rapidly in their native language (L1), regardless of race, gender, or academic level;
  • be more efficient communicators in the L1;
  • be consistently better able to deal with distractions, which may help offset age-related declines in mental dexterity;
  • develop a markedly better language proficiency in, sensitivity to, and understanding of their mother tongue;
  • develop a greater vocabulary size over age, including that in their L1;
  • have a better ear for listening and sharper memories;
  • be better language learners in institutionalized learning contexts because of more developed language-learning capacities owing to the more complex linguistic knowledge and higher language awareness;
  • have increased ability to apply more reading strategies effectively due to their greater experience in language learning and reading in two—or more—different languages;
  • develop not only better verbal, but also spatial abilities;
  • parcel up and categorize meanings in different ways;
  • display generally greater cognitive flexibility, better problem solving and higher-order thinking skills;
  • a person who speaks multiple languages has a stereoscopic vision of the world from two or more perspectives, enabling them to be more flexible in their thinking, learn reading more easily. Multilinguals, therefore, are not restricted to a single world-view, but also have a better understanding that other outlooks are possible. Indeed, this has always been seen as one of the main educational advantages of language teaching”; 
  • multilinguals can expand their personal horizons and—being simultaneously insiders and outsiders—see their own culture from a new perspective not available to monoglots, enabling the comparison, contrast, and understanding of cultural concepts;
  • be better problem-solvers gaining multiple perspectives on issues at hand;
  • have improved critical thinking abilities;
  • better understand and appreciate people of other countries, thereby lessening racism, xenophobia, and intolerance, as the learning of a new language usually brings with it a revelation of a new culture;
  • learn further languages more quickly and efficiently than their hitherto monolingual peers;
  • to say nothing of the social and employment advantages of being bilingual {Study: Bilinguals Have Faster Brains}– offering the student the ability to communicate with people s/he would otherwise not have the chance to interact with, and increasing job opportunities in many careers {The Value In Being Bilingual or Multilingual}.
 
21 Comments

Posted by on January 17, 2013 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs

 

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Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…

“Are you curious?” We are! :o

**UPDATE: Follow-up post discussing thoughts on Diversity & Raising Children as Expats

I often talk about the challenges of parenting, especially considering the difficulties placed by language and culture, one of the many issues associated with moving to a different country, every couple of years. That said, I took a look back at the posts published in 2012, mainly on parenting & language, and found one that generated a very instructive feedback; working as a sort of a ‘discussion forum‘, that I plan on exploring/expanding at length, some time this year… [Another one of my New Year's Resolutions... Like everyone else, I know there'll be a great deal of 'procrastination' before I'll be able to cross tasks off my 2013 to-do list!]

Oh, well, at least, I’m taking the time to revisit thoughts/facts/articles… it’s the first step for the beginning of a good research! :o

The post that got me thinking was one related to a simple question: “What type of multilingual parent are you?”, pointed out by the Mumsnet Bloggers Network for 2012; that had been initiated by a clever quote about the experience of raising bi/multilingual children:

“…raising multilingual children is an adventure you share together – one that is a lot of fun, but for which you will need quite a lot of patience. Sometimes, linguistic development will not progress in the way you hoped. That is fine, and everything will eventually work itself out. Sharing my language with my children has been about sharing my heritage more than anything else. It might be difficult at times, but it is a gift that will last a lifetime“.

Last year’s blogpost provoked a very positive reaction, expressed through the number of visitors, and especially, throughout the comments, coming from parents, consultants, educators, expats like ourselves, or simply, other parents who echo our opinions about how challenging, adventurous and/or never-ending this experience should be.

Learning should never stop, and teaching our kids through example is the best way to keep ourselves current! At least, that’s the hope! :o

Here are some of the comments, and based on their [shared] experiences, it could be YOUR TURN to answer – what type of multilingual parent are you? Or, even better, what type of [multilingual] parent you hope to become?

But first, let me thank all the visitors/readers who shared a comment, or who sent me a message [with your opinion/suggestion] regarding this topic. It makes the blogging experience much richer, more productive, and way more enjoyable! My deepest appreciation to all of you! ♥

VisitorMy husband is a German TCK growing up in Taiwan, and thinks in English most of the time. He is fluent in German and can read fairly well – though he is more comfortable in English. We are living in a Chinese environment and have been since we’ve been married. We had high hopes of me speaking English and him speaking German, but that didn’t work out. I’d say mainly because he didn’t think in German when the oldest was born – he rarely spoke German to anyone. So, remembering to speak it at home was difficult. He did better speaking Chinese to them.  On top of this, his family all speaks English fluently, so there was no pressure on us in that regard as well.
 I do have a question, though that I’m wondering. Will you continue to educate your children in all three languages through middle school and high school or focus more on one language? I’m just really curious about this. You seem to be really doing a great job with them right now so that they master both written and spoken of the three. Great post to ponder on… 

           
Visitor  
In our house we speak English, Spanish and Dutch and the boys seem to know all three languages equally. My five year old is a dynamo with languages. He can switch, translate and think in all three. My two year old understands all three but is not as talkative as my five year old was. We lived in Mozambique with the older one until the age of three and he was able to speak 4 languages when we lived there. It is curious to see how the different children take to the languages differently. I thought for sure my two year old would be the same since we haven’t done anything really different, but I noticed he is taking longer to use his words, although you can see he understands all three. I call Dutch the secret language in my house, because only the boys (not me) speak it. So basically this is how it works: School = English, Language we speak as a family = English, Mommy = Spanglish to the boys (more spanish), Daddy = Dutch to the boys, Empleada/Nanny = always Spanish. The boys will also take Dutch lessons once or twice a week. It is definitely challenging, but so worth it. We don’t really think about it… just the way we live our life.
                        
      
Visitor Enjoyed your post! All the more so since /multilingual-multicultural life – as mentioned by Sakti above – is part and parcel of life in India! I think it is an advantage more than a challenge, an opportunity to broaden horizons!


 
Visitor I am probably not looking at it from a parents’ perspective.  My challenge is to make sure some of our less spoken languages – that includes my mother tongue, that my grandkids can not speak! – do not become extinct!
 

      
VisitorVery interesting. I am from India and we have a different challenge as India has more than 2 dozens of official languages. I studied a different language (Odia) than my mother tongue (Bengali) and now staying in a state, which speak another language (Gujarati). Everybody in India speaks English and Hindi. So my kids (both below 6 years) now have almost learnt to speak and understand all the above languages. Yes it is a challenge.


 

VisitorThanks for the mention of our upcoming session on Emotional Resiliency in Foreign Service Kids that will be held next week (*). Even though you won’t get to see it live, AFSA will upload the video to their website for worldwide viewing. 
I wish I could comment on what kind of bilingual parent I am…. but mine would be more of what I failure I was! When my daughter was 2, we left Portugal, where we had spoken Portuguese in the home when our housekeeper was around. The housekeeper only spoke to my daughter in Portuguese from infancy, so our daughter understood Portuguese as well as English. When we left Portugal, I tried to continue the Portuguese with her, only – at the age of only 2! – she wouldn’t answer me in Portuguese and finally admonished me to “stop speaking like Dolores!” I finally gave up on it.
 

           (*) Please refer to original post for the full text, and more details on the 2012 AFSA initiative.

 
Visitor I’m inspired to speak spanish at home more now. My kids’ dad all speak Spanish and I beg them to speak Spanish to the kids but they haven’t. My mom was raised bilingual, I was until they couldn’t accurately diagnose my infant-aged hearing issues because they couldn’t tell if I didn’t hear them or didn’t understand them so they told my mom to stop speaking Hungarian to me and she did. But she still wishes she’d have kept up with it. Other countries are so great with this and the US doesn’t do enough!
 

           
VisitorThis is so interesting! We also got “moderate parent”. I try to speak spanish to them most of the time but sometimes forget. I also read to them in french and english is the main language in the household. I’m taking them to a spanish speaking playgroup in hopes Evan will be motivated by seeing other little kids speak spanish! Great post!




 

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Snapshots of the 2012 International Day at School [or 'when you've got more than one Country in your heart!'].

This past International Day at the kids school made me remember a post I wrote some time back, about raising our children with a sense of different cultures… honoring and loving their unique background…

Picking their ‘home countries’ up for the 2010 World Cup!

When you’ve got more than one place in your heart …you’re expected to love, honor and respect them both [or the 3, 4... of them!]

Living in-between cultures, besides being an exciting experience, could be pretty challenging, as well.

Raising children from hybrid cultures offers countless possibilities to keep traditions alive, maintaing memories and links to the home country always fresh. It takes a great deal of effort. But it’s worth the trouble.

Witnessing your kids cherishing different traditions, honoring and respecting your and your spouse’s home countries, is worth any extra work. It’ll pay forward, we hope! ♥

They are learning to love and respect their mixed culture. They’re beginning to understand historical events, their causes and consequences. They’re learning that any country is not just about land, but also, its people, their beliefs and their sense of social respect. Hybrid cultures are a rich experience. Hopefully, our three TCKs will grow up comprehending that the world they live in is much bigger than geography may present itself. And a country’s boundaries go as far as its people. We bring our culture with ourselves. Our traditions, our honor, our respect to others. Wherever we are. Wherever we move to. It’s good to know that some of us ‘serial expats’ bring more than one country in our hearts!

 

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{(young kids) + (sleep deprivation) + (long working hours) = (when exactly did we sign for this?!!)}

myself, a realistic impression, according to one of my kids!

I guess I’m bringing these memories back because my baby is now almost 2 years old… and the sleep deprivation days are becoming fewer and fewer… [at least, that's the hope!]

There was a time I used to love Math

Nowadays, I’m not so sure…

I’m still trying to figure out the Mathematics of life with children!

[Backstory] Once upon a time,  there was a young girl who loved children, had a great time playing with other people’s kids, and believed she’d make a great mom, when the time came…

Well, this young girl got older, found her prince charming, and once again, they (so naïve!) thought:

“We’re gonna be parents! We’re gonna be the best ones! We’ll love and cherish children! Our kids will be the best behaved ones, always clean, always loving and respectful”

And then, the family started growing: first we were, as some friends (already with 3 children) used to call us: “a couple with a child”. We had it easy! Once kid #1 was sound asleep, mommy and daddy could enjoy some quality time (and even some wine!) at the end of a long day of work. So, here was the formula:

f = [(a loving husband) + (a loving wife) + (a brand new baby) = (a happy family!)]

Life and Math seemed so easy and manageagle: we were living overseas, had support and household help. We then decided to increase our legacy. Here came kid #2, and with it, a way more challenging routine, accompained by several sleepless nights…

We had no idea that with two kids, the chances of having one of them sick, at some point in time, are extremely high!

We, the “once before-pretty smart” parents, learnt that our “Math skills” weren’t gonna cut…

Take a look at the “new & improved” formula:

f = [(still loving, but very tired parents) + (demanding toddler) + (a brand new baby)

= (a still happy, but somewhat confused family!)]

We managed life. We found our niche, learnt from other couples new strategies and ground rules to apply to our own routine, began training the kids on life skills (sleeping, eating, drinking, bathroom needs).

Regarding our Math knowledge, we sort of came back from a lousy D- to a pretty solid B-

We were back, baby!! We knew how to survive with kids, lead an enjoyable life, took short trips with the whole family, went grocery shopping… We had it down! And the excess of confidence and maybe some extra  excitement about our new FS assignment, responded for kid #3…

 

And then, the third one came into our lives. 

We’re a family full of life and joy. Today, we don’t sleep as many hours as we used to, let’s see, six years ago, when we were sure to be the best “parents-to-be”.

Today we may not have the face-time with our spouse, the way we wanted, but if the kids are healthy, fed, dry, and the most important of all – sleeping – we, as parents, are pretty satisfied.

Our definition of happiness may have changed a bit, and we’re taking a day at a time. A sleepless night might be followed by a great day, who knows?

At least now we’ve got an idea on what’s in-store for us. We know kids give us a hard time when it comes to sleeping, eating, getting dressed, getting ready for school, and pretty much anything else.

But at least now, we know we need to be prepared. And we’re learning. Also, we decided to give up on our Math skills – raising kids has no formula.

Life with kids is just a massive equation, with tons of variables… We’d be silly trying to map it out. And the worst and maybe the funniest of all is that, at the moment, we’re graded by a team, whose combined age doesn’t even reach 13 years! :o

In sum, I’m thankful to all the readers and parents out there, for the support during my parenting experience, and I guess, gotta thank my own children, for the ENDLESS INSPIRATION they provide to my blogging days! ♥

Related Posts:

 
16 Comments

Posted by on October 24, 2012 in children, FAMILY, humor, TCKs

 

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Children in adult-oriented places: a collection of [random] thoughts!

I found this theme really interesting, and intriguing… almost poking on us, parents of our loving well-behaved little ones:

“Everyone loves kids, right? Right! Except when they don’t. This week, we’re particularly interested in what you think about kids in adult-oriented places. I think most of us can agree that it’s not a good idea to drag little Sally to a bar at 1AM, but what about a museum? A fancy restaurant?” [Michele M. from King of States].

at the museum

Well, as a parent of 3 little kids (oldest one just turned 7), moving every two years, due to family work requirements, having to adjust not only to a new country, as well as to new cultures, new languages, there’s yet the expectation that [shockingly!] my kids should also re-invent themselves and adjust/adapt to new social demands/requirements, showcasing the pristine behavior only found in movies about expat children attending boarding schools, spending their spear time learning an instrument and being part of book clubs!

Clearly, that doesn’t happen. It never did, and very likely, it’ll not happen in any future

This theme, discussing the pros and cons of having children in adult-oriented/adult-only social places got me thinking. And I began reading through what others had to say about it [I'm such a curious cat!].

I’m always searching for resources related to raising children in multi-cultural settings, I take part at parenting forums, I respond/comment on discussion lists, I blog about raising TCKs, and seek help for that…

I’m also the ‘household fairy’, you know, that one silent worker, that makes the breakfast show up in the morning, the lunch packs being ready before the school bus turns the corner… the ‘laundry fairy’, the intense PTA volunteer. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough time to ‘school’ my children on the ‘perfect social behavior‘ [whatever it is or means] – I’m still trying. And my children are also trying to learn, the best they can. They’ve been to restaurants, airports, family gatherings, embassy functions, social events, you name it!

So, answering the original question, should kids be allowed at adult-oriented places? PROBABLY NOT. And I’m stating that as a MOM, speaking my heart out from my life experience, as a mother, and a former teacher. NOTHING AGAINST children. Love them. Deeply. But in my very humble opinion, there are some adult-oriented places that little ones should no be taken to – and that includes some of our beloved evening pubs, bars and dining places – unless the latter is kid-friendly, otherwise, one should only take a [especially the very young ones] to a bar or pub, if looking for some unforeseen sickness, and a parental headache for the following days! :o

making pizza, at a ‘kid-friendly’ restaurant!

But, should we, as parents, carry out our frustrations to a public setting? Would it be enjoyable to ourselves, and to others?

Kids deserve people to respect them. And, do you believe they [the children] would be receiving their deserved share of social respect, if others [adults] would feel uncomfortable with their presence? Tough call.

My parents always had to travel for work. We moved a lot. We were also three children, the only difference was that, being the oldest one (9 years older than the youngest), I was responsible for their social behavior.

A ‘quasi-responsiblity‘, if I could put it like that. And I remember getting the ‘rolled eyes’ from others, the ‘evil looks’ at restaurants. There was no nanny at that time. Two working parents. Going out to restaurants was a rare treat – we definitely had to ‘earn our way’. Today, I’m the parent. I’m the one flying with screaming  kicking bored wonderful children. :o The ‘looks’ towards me are still there. I can feel them. And I’m sure my children also sense them coming…

For all that, even if it’s hard, logistically challenging, last-minute need, try to find yourself a baby sitter. That’s my little 2 cents of advice, and one may do whatever it wants with it, even completely discard it. Just my humble suggestion…. Adult-oriented places are for adults only [clever conclusion, right?!].

Unfortunately, for the ones who would like to spend quality time with their children, tagging them along wherever they go, I’m sure there’ll be other alternatives… they’re called ‘kid-friendly places’. Trust me, kids don’t enjoy adult-only scenarios. I’ve been there. I’ve tried both ways, and I’d stick to the second one. It’s safer for the adult parent, the adult company, and for the children.

Good luck to all of us raising kids – what a tough job, man! :o

 
 

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Updated: Thoughts on ‘what type of multilingual parent are you?’…

“Are you curious?”  We are!

Blog Hop: I’ve talked before about our family’s cultural settings – husband and wife coming from different (but not exclusive) cultures/languages, raising our 3 TCKs, all now 7 years of age, and under; as well as presented thoughts on the Creative Flow of a TCK. This past April, AFSA hosted a panel discussion on emotional resilience in third-culture kids (TCKs) with a particular focus on the Foreign Service experience, during the first week of April. Experts on the issue of TCKs are expected to discuss the issue, taking questions from the audience – too bad we´re a bit far from DC, but we´re looking forward to reading about the discussion. The main question under discussion will be why some kids adapt very well to life in the Foreign Service while others struggle [check the AFSA website for more information].

Phonics & Math: let’s get the family together to help!

From my/our end, we are trying to do our part of the challenging task that is raising worldy third-culture children. And we´re doing it through language. It’s already known that speaking several languages fluently increases job opportunities, makes international travel easier, and enables you to communicate with a lot more people a lot more easily. There are various theories on how to best raise multilingual kids. “One parent, one language” (OPOL for short) is popular, and to some extent that is what we’re doing in our family.

One thing we’ve learned about raising TCKs: reading is a magic tool!

We’ve found out we’re “moderate” multilingual parents… At least, that’s how we tested, according to the Multilingual Living Quiz. Which is the best “group of multilingual parents”? Hard to say, they’re all different, and unique in their own way. There’s no magic formula when it comes to raising children in a multicultural setting. I’m always talking about our multilingual household, the challenges of trying to keep up with Spanish, Portuguese and English, while assisting our 1st grader on his (now!) English homework assignments, as well as with his homeschooling English/Spanish tasks! [Note: our son had started first grade in Brazil, last February, attending a Brazilian Montessori School, and had English classes three times a week. We moved to our current post, La Paz, Bolivia, in August, so, he could begin the American School year, as a first grader...] And our oldest child is just one of the examples: there two more on the line – his younger sisters (now aged 4,5 and almost 2) are a lively part of this multilingual/multicultural environment….

Looking for “help” from flashcards, when it comes to linking the sounds to the words!

Challenging, but exciting. And we’re very satisfied with the outcome: our oldest children are capable of communicating with both sets of grandparents, watching bilingual TV, having play dates both in English and Portuguese, and, offer very positive feedback to their dad when talked to/read to in Spanish. :o Recently, I stumbled upon a great quote, about the experience of raising bi/multilingual children: “raising multilingual children is an adventure you share together – one that is a lot of fun, but for which you will need quite a lot of patience. Sometimes, linguistic development will not progress in the way you hoped. That is fine, and everything will eventually work itself out. Sharing my language with my children has been about sharing my heritage more than anything else. It might be difficult at times, but it is a gift that will last a lifetime“. Couldn’t agree more! :o 

Remembering bed time stories: from mom, in Portuguese… From dad, in English!

Helping our oldest children with their homework in Portuguese, having them practice English phonics with their native-speaker father, seeing the children have routine conversations with their dad in Spanish and English; and reading bed time stories in … who knows what!

We’ve been very fortunate regarding the kids school back in Brazil (they get both Portuguese and English), and we were thankful for the opportunity to use the educational allowance for homeschooling our 1st grader when it came to supplement his English language.

All in all, it’s working, and we’re pleased with the current results. Based on the explanation for each “group of multilingual parenting styles”, the Moderate Parent has found the golden middle way of bilingual parenting. Well-informed about bilingual issues yet know that ultimately they have to make your own rules and decisions that suit your family the best. Have a healthy dose of commitment towards your bilingual endeavour, a reasonable amount of self-confidence in what you are doing, and have no problem in bending the rules when necessary and when it’s in your family’s best interest. the “moderate parents” have chosen a model, are committed to it, and don’t give up easily when troubles arise. Acquainted with worries and problems but can ride through rough times by getting the right support from certain experts, their online group and other bilingual parents.

[Test originally published in Multilingual Living Magazine]

After all that, now it’s your turn to answer: “What type of multilingual parent do you think you are?” Take the quiz and find out! Here are examples of the questions:

“When you are on the playground with your child, you…”

“When your child speaks to you in the “wrong” language, you…”

“When it comes to literature on bilingualism, you…”

“Your reaction to the word “OPOL” is…”

“Your aim is for your child is…”

And there are many more questions/concerns/curiosities… Take your time to check it out!

So, how do you think you did?

Click Here to calculate your score and find out the results! We had a lot of fun (and learned a lot!) doing this little exercise! :o thanks for coming along!

 

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180 years later, an analogy with Charles Darwin’s Beagle Voyage.

Brazil-PTWP

The most recent WordPress Writing Challenge, is about  “writing style“. Quoting WP:

“Like it or not, we all have our own style. Where we’re from, our local colloquialisms, our favorite writers, and our preferred subject matter all influence the tone and language in our posts. We do not blog in a vacuum…Better yet, you can tell us about your favorite writer’s tone, or you can take it a step further — after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Highlight a particular element of your favorite writer’s style, and incorporate it into a post of your own. Whether it’s their delightfully wry wit, the rhythmic insertion of repeated phrases, or lackadaisical sentence structure, become your favorite writer for a day (or an hour).”
Here’s my original post, writen under the format of a ‘quasi-journal’, taking advantage of the suggested Writing Challenge from WordPress, and the fantastic journey reports from another Biologist,Charles Darwin… Am I trying to ‘imitate’ Darwin’s style, comparing our family’s journeys with his? Not at all – trying to be humble, and realistic…But, as a researcher, former scientist, and now traveling mom, the challenge of comparing both memories is intriguing and exciting. Hope you enjoy it!

“Our traveling family has just departed from Brazil. On a plane, not on a ship. We didn’t have a crew, nor shipmates, just the five of us, 2 intense parents and 3 children aged 6 and under – but still keeping a diary of our experiences, encounters, a way to tell our stories, share lessons learned and comment on challenges and small victories…

In July 5, 1832 - HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin departed Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was in Brazil from Feb 28 until Jul 5, 1832. The same week he departed, but, 180 years later, our family also departed Recife, Pernambuco, northeastern coast of Brazil, heading to our next adventure… An interesting coincidence, for several different reasons, and one of them, for sure, led a fellow blogger/researcher to kindly invite me to prepare a guest post for his blog, The Beagle Project. According to the site’s author, Rob Viens, “The Beagle Project – is an attempt to read and reflect on Charles Darwin’s Beagle Diary in real time over a five year period – 180 years to the date the original entries were recorded.” As the author likes to describe himself, “He currently resides on the planet Earth, on the Eocene Blakeley and Renton formations in Bellevue, with his wife, daughter, son and cats“. Find more about the creation of this Project, here.

Photography: Exploring the mangrove biome on Itamaraca Island, Brazil.After departing Brazil, 180 years ago, Charles Darwin headed South… nice coincidence: our next posting is La Paz, Bolivia, and after a short stop back in the US, our family, led by the International Affair’s father and his right-hand Biologist wife (aka, the Mother), will again, be heading to South America! :o Hey, please don’t get me wrong: no intention to compare between the 2 biologists! :o I’m humble enough to admit myself as being a passionate researcher, who loves to learn and is eager to share experiences I’ve acquired through life, with our growing children.oyster colonies growing along the tree branches

During these 2 years in Brazil, our family had the opportunity to really immerse into the culture, and personally, I was grateful for the possibility of letting my children experience what I grew up with in Brazil. As a family, we traveled through most of the northeastern region of Brazil, visited historical sites, dating from the Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish colonization days. We experienced the intriguing architecture of this nation’s capital, Brasilia; and as an exploring couple, my husband and I got to visit several unique sites, like the paradise beach coast of Jericoacoara, one of the ten most beautiful beaches on Earth and the world’s heritage site, [Archipelago of] Fernando de Noronha, coincidentally, one of the Brazilian sites visited by Charles Darwin’s expedition [other posts about Fernando de Noronha here and here]. and . We saw spinning dolphins, volcanic rock formations, horizontal trees, manatees, baby sharks, deep blue lagoons, and hiked through untouched natural settings… We experienced life to its fullest – always sharing our findings with our offspring… who knows, maybe one day, they’ll also become passionate explorers, life their parents? :o

Through the aerial roots of this old tree...

While living in Brazil we saw different color sunsets, and once-in-a-lifetime sunrises. We lazed in hammocks dipped in the deepest blue water, listened to volunteers talking and showing the importance of preserving the sea and green turtles, and watched them hatch… at the end, we simply enjoyed the wonders of nature… We learned about conservation and the importance of respecting the natural creations, as well as, its limits. We learned about the use and potential of the “green energy resources“, and talked about it with our colleagues. We boarded on the visiting Rainbow Warrior Greenpeace ship for a live lesson on Conservation of Natural Resources…IMG_4108

Our children are learning to love and respect their mixed culture and the importance of learning how to explore, how to care, how to preserve.

They’re beginning to understand historical events, their causes and consequences. They’re learning that any country is not just about land, but also, its people, their beliefs and their sense of social respect. Hybrid cultures are a rich experience. They will grow up comprehending that the world they live in is much bigger than geography may present itself. And a country’s boundaries go as far as its people. We bring our culture with ourselves. Our traditions, our honor, our respect to others. Wherever we are. Wherever we move to. We’ve departed Brazil with a heavy heart and lots of good memories, that we’re trying to register through this interactive quasi-travel diary… And, as Charles Darwin himself wrote on his Diary, our adventure will also continue:

[July, 1832] 5th A little after 9 oclock we tripped our anchor, & with a gentle breeze stood out of the bay.— Capts Talbot & Harding accompanied us beyond Santa Cruz.— As we sailed past the Warspite & Samarang (our old Bahia friend) they manned the rigging & gave us a true sailor-like farewell, with three cheers.— The band at the same time striking up “To glory you steer”.— The Captain had intended touching at Cape Frio, but as the lightning did so.— we made a direct course for the South.— Near to the Isle de Raza the wind lulled, & we are now becalmed & shall probably remain so during the night: |190| The moon is now shining brightly on the glassy water.—every one is in high spirits at again being at sea & a little more wind is all that is wanted.— The still & quiet regularity of the ship is delightful; at no time is “the busy hum of men” so strongly perceived as when leaving it for the open ocean.—”

Thank you, WordPress Readers! And the journey continues!

Picture the World Project: Representing Brazil! (3rdculturechildren.com)

 

 
13 Comments

Posted by on September 14, 2012 in ecology, photography, TCKs, TRAVEL

 

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So… where’s home? [from a TCK's perspective]

Adjusting to School…

School’s begun, kids are adjusting to their ‘newest’ challenges: new friends, without forgetting their ‘previous’ ones, new teachers, with different teaching techniques, strategies, and a brand new schedule… All in all, they seem to be taking it in pretty well (at least for these past 2 weeks!). Let’s see what future will bring to this foreign service family ♥

Adjustments are never easy, nor smooth, but as committed parents, we’re trying our very best to make sure our 3 kids have an enjoyable social/emotional/psychological experience at this new posting/assignment. Not all is under our control, unfortunately, but… it’s all part of life, and life’s challenging on itself – otherwise, what’d be the meaning of pursuing different lifestyles?

That said, during one of my ‘blog hopping’ ventures, found a very interesting video discussing the meaning of ‘home, from a TCK‘s perspective, totally worthy the time, and maybe, a good way to generate some discussion/questioning about the theme. Here it is:

So Where’s Home? A Film About Third Culture Kid Identity from Adrian Bautista on Vimeo.

 

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Our little ‘Daughters of the Mayflower’ descendants and their ‘royal roots’

Just decided to repost (or re-blog!) this, in preparation for the weekend: Family Reunion.

Here is the post:

The original suggestion for this blog post came as an interesting opportunity to share a bit of my husband’s ongoing research on his family origins, and is one of the themes we already posted about.

The most recent wedding preparation events in England are the perfect excuse to bring out the reasons why our two daughters are part of the descendent line from the “Mayflower“, and (very, very far, “urban legend-bordering”, but still) able to be traced back to European royalty… (really??)

Let’s see how it turns out!

My husband’s dabbled with researching his family’s history. Our children can trace back to royal roots in their very distant past through the family of their grandmother, whose last name is Greene. The Greenes came to the United States from England in the 1630′s and eventually married into the Mayflower descendants bloodline. Before England, the original Greene family could be found in France, and the spelling of the name has changed throughout the years.

Honestly, I have no intention to bore anyone with facts/info, just a historical excerpt, but still trying to keep a “fluid” feel for the post: (Acknowledgement: Mrs. Pamela D. Hudson, Georgia USA ).”

“Today’s name “Greene” was originally written “de Grene”, “de Grean” (sometimes transcribed as “atte Gream”) or “Grene” and changed again to simply “Greene” and in America changed again to mostly “Green”. It appears that the Greene’s assumed their name from an allusion to their principal and beloved manor which was Boketon (now Greene’s Norton), in the County of Northampton, England. The place was known for the excellency of its soil, its situation, and its spacious and delightful green. From Buckton, they assumed three bucks for their coat of arms. The earliest known Greene, Alexander, a younger son of the de la Zouche family, was given an estate and title as a “Great Baron” by King John of England in 1202 AD. The estate was that of Grene de Boketon. Walter de Boketon, was in the Seventh Crusade in 1244. Walter’s son, John Grene de Boketon, died in the next crusade in 1271 leaving a year old son, Thomas, who became Sir Thomas de Grene (married Alice Bottisham). Then came Sir Thomas de Grene, who married Lady Lucy de la Zouche, his relative, and a direct descendant of King Henry I of France“.

For us over here at least it’s fun to learn about these interesting historical twists. In the meantime, our two little “aspiring princesses” are happily living in the Lima-Miranda Castle, our “always-on-the-move home”, surrounded by unicorns, barbie dolls and baby bottles!!! :o

 
 

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When you’ve got more than one place in your heart… [living in-between cultures]

…you’re expected to love, honor and respect them both.

This week we are honoring the US Independence, bringing back memories from other assignments, sharing our thoughts:

Living in-between cultures, besides being an exciting experience, could be pretty challenging, as well. Raising children from hybrid cultures offers countless possibilities to keep traditions alive, maintaing memories and links to the home country always fresh. It takes a great deal of effort. But it’s worth the trouble. Witnessing your kids cherishing different traditions, honoring and respecting your and your spouse’s home countries, is worth any extra work. It’ll pay forward. 

Our kids are learning to love and respect their mixed culture. They’re beginning to understand historical events, their causes and consequences. They’re learning that any country is not just about land, but also, its people, their beliefs and their sense of social respect. Hybrid cultures are a rich experience. Hopefully, our three TCKs will grow up comprehending that the world they live in is much bigger than geography may present itself. And a country’s boundaries go as far as its people. We bring our culture with ourselves. Our traditions, our honor, our respect to others. Wherever we are. Wherever we move to. It’s good to know that some of us in the Service bring more than one country in our hearts..

This week, our hearts are proudly filled with red, white and blue colors… and as we’re heading out of Brazil, our hearts are overflowing with green, yellow and of course, blue! :o One day, I’ll look back at our time in Brazil as a family, piece together the best moments, best images, the favorite memories. One day, but not today. Not this week… We’re in-between cultures right now…

Love & Peace to All!

We’re out! :o

 
14 Comments

Posted by on July 1, 2012 in children, TCKs

 

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Music to Help Children Learn a New Language

…10 minutes at a time

by CONTRIBUTOR on MAY 14, 2012 (from MultiLingual Living)

Music to Help Bilingual Children Learn a New Language: 10 Minutes at a Time

By Franck & Cristina
Photo credit: sanbeiji

Music plays an important role in learning a second language. Similar areas of the brain are activated when listening to or playing music and speaking or processing language. Language and music are both associated with emotions, the combination makes it a powerful way to learn a second language.

Why is music so helpful to learn a second language?

  • Songs are fun
    We know that children, especially small children, really like music. They relate to it as entertainment and find learning vocabulary through songs amusing. Songs associated with hand and arm gestures are even more powerful in engaging children.
  • Songs increase retention
    Most of us are able to remember several children’s songs we learned as kids. Music helps us retain words and expressions much more effectively. The rhythm of the music helps with memorization, as do the repetitive patterns within the song.
  • Songs place vocabulary in context
    A song is also a little story. Children learn new words and expressions in the context of a story within the song. This will more easily captivate the attention of kids learning a new language. Words make sense faster when you learn them in the context of the lyrics in the song than when you learn them by themselves.

Below are 7 tips to help children learn another language with music, 10 minutes at a time:

  • Tip #1: Sing while nursing/giving the bottle
    With both Elena and Pablo, before they turned 1, I used to give the last bottle of the day around 11pm. I made it a habit to sing every time, both to relax them, get them to sleep, and have them hear French songs.
  • Tip #2: Finish the bedtime story with a song
    For about a year, I used to sing the same songs to Pablo in French at bedtime (“Un crocodile”, “Dans la maison un grand cerf”, “Dans la foret lointaine”). He was under two years old and he knew the lyrics by heart.
  • Tip #3: Play tag with a song
    We like “Aline”, a French hit from the 60s that has very clear lyrics. We would play “tag” with it: during the refrain, the kids had to leave “base” and I would chase them in the living room. The kids would ask to play the game almost every evening (and they knew the lyrics really well!).
  • Tip #4: Role play with a song
    There is a great Spanish song Cristina used frequently with the kids: “Hola Don Pepito, hola Don Jose”. It is a short dialogue between 2 characters, with simple lyrics. The music is engaging and made both Elena and Pablo want to sing with Cristina back-and-forth. Cristina and the kids would take turns and role playing one of the 2 characters.
  • Tip #5: Dance and learn
    YouTube has great videos of songs where you can dance. Elena and Pablo learned the alphabet in French with Chantal Goya’s “L’Alphabet en chantant”. It is a fun song where you have to mimic the letters with your hands and arms. They learned the alphabet in French much faster than me trying to teach them.
  • Tip #6: Sing together in the car
    Make a routine out of a specific car ride: going to school, coming back from school, going to the park, getting groceries, etc. You can listen to your favorite songs in the target language during one of the car rides as well. This is why Elena and Pablo know the lyrics of “Les Champs Elysees” from Joe Dassin by heart.
  • Tip #7: Family karaoke
    We learn Chinese as a family. We LOVE “Tian mi mi” of Teresa Teng. We found a YouTube video with “Tian mi mi” lyrics on the bottom of the screen. Everyone in the family can sing the song now. Singing it in our Chinese neighborhood restaurant even got us free desserts.

What other ways do you use music to teach your kids a second language? Please share them with us!

[Test originally published in Multilingual Living Magazine]

 

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Day 625 in Brazil: More resources to entertain our children [and avoid going crazy!]

Being a parent/caretaker requires lots of diplomacynegotiationpeacekeepingpolicy implementation and strategy skills. That said, managing a household, its respective juvenile population and the consequent budgetary implications, is a… HUGE, EXPERIMENTAL and UNFORESEEN task! There is a never-ending need to keep kids and parents sane (as much as possible!). Family outings require loads of planning and logistics management – even if we’re just talking about a Sunday lunch! We’re 20 months into our assignment, and  our current post wasn’t a totally new experience for us, since we’ve visited Brazil several times before we moved here. Visiting was fun and care-free. Living and adjusting as a family, a little harder than we’d expected, but still very manageable.

This week we happily discovered a new resource for parents, like us, looking for an alternative for our children [we'd already shared a list of activities/places for children on a previous post]. Here it is: the First Toy Library (“brinquedoteca“) in Recife, Pernambuco.

CASA DA LINDA, BRINQUEDOTECA:

Surprise your children. Here are some links on good stuff to do around Recife:

  • Praia de Boa Viagem (beach) – natural war water pools protected by coral reefs guarantee a delicious time a the beach. The sand and waters are continuously monitored by the state’s environmental agency, CPRH and are pollution-free.
  • Jardim Botânico de Recife (Botanical Gardens) – a natural reservation measuring 25.7 acres, a member of the Brazilian network of Botanical Gardens.
  • Parque Dois Irmãos (park) – one of the most beautiful and picturesque green areas of the city, the 38.7 ha park is a zoo, botanical and environmental education centre and an Atlantic Rainforest reservation. Ecological walking trails are guided by Biologists.
  • Parque da Jaqueira (park) – located by the Capibaribe river, the park covers 7ha and its the city’s largest one. Very green and has got beautiful gardens designed by Burle Marx.
  • Parque 13 de Maio (park) – also designed by Burle Marx, in downtown Recife. Children’s playgrounds, jogging lanes, benches, royal palm trees and sculptures.
  • Museu do Homem do Nordeste (museum) – one of the most historical and anthropological museums in Brazil. Hosts the “Family at the Museum” program.
  • Paço Children’s Project – contemporary arts program in Recife.
  • Escolinha de Arte do Recife (Junior Art School) – dedicated to awakening creativity and love for the arts in children.
  • Mirabilândia – one of the largest amusement parks in NE Brazil, the fairground has more than 20 rides divided into radical, family and children.
  • Game Station – there is an arcade in every major shopping mall, offering electronic games and fun for children and adults.
 
 

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The Social Moms, the “influential moms network”, featured 3rdCultureChildren as blog of the week

BLOG OF THE WEEK: 3RD CULTURE CHILDREN

December 4, 2011 By 

3rdculturechildren

“The SocialMoms Blog of the Week is 3rd Culture Children – where Raquel shares her love of travel and parenting.

Congratulations to 3rd Culture Children: the SocialMoms Blog of the Week! As someone who has done very little travel in my lifetime, I’m always fascinated by travel blogs, and this is no exception. I love that Raquel is able to talk about parenting while sharing the aspects of their travels to a variety of countries across the globe…” See below Nikki’s article/full interview:

SM: What was your inspiration for starting 3rd Culture Children?

We are a traveling family, with the US Foreign Service.  I initially began the blog to share my impressions, observations and along-the-road experiences with our 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.  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” (as you may find more information from one of its pages) 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 6 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“.

SM: What has most surprised you about running the site?

The first thing that surprised me was the positive feedback I began receiving from other families in the Foreign Service. After being blogging for a little less than four months, I saw one of my posts, about Brazilian Folklore and the integration of expatriate children, featured by WordPress. Features also included picks made by Ecopressed and PopPressed. As a working mom of 3, in charge of anything from grocery shopping to planning trips, I was very honored with the outcome.

SM: What are you most passionate about?

Sharing our travel pictures, telling stories, discussing our challenges and the discoveries we’re making along the way – people and places.

SM: What is the most popular section of your site?

The bilingual posts have become quite popular: posts with impressions of our visits to Brazilian historical and tourist sites – in English and Portuguese; and the Weekly Photo Challenge posts, which is an exciting way to improve my skills as an “amateur” photographer.  My husband has contributed photos as well  - another passionate non-professional photographer.

SM: What is your favorite part of blogging?

The ability to convert ideas, impressions and images into stories, shared advice, resources to other parents/families/travelers. The excitement of spotting a routine event and transforming it into a surprisingly positive post. I’m a traveler, a researcher, an author, a mom. With an endless desire to learn, discover and share…

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 4, 2011 in expat, TCKs, TRAVEL

 

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“Oso pardo, oso pardo, que ves ahi?” or Thoughts on the Creative Flow of a TCK

Although we’re on family vacation (it’s October, right?!) , I’d asked our kids’ teachers to give me some work sheets for their time off, in order to help them not forget about school, during their traveling days…

 It may sound a bit “geeky”, but hey, that’s who we are, and that’s what we believe it is the right thing to do… at least, for now… Our oldest one is 6 years old, and experiencing the challenges of  “cursive letters”. This morning I spend a few good hours with him – it’s been raining, not a lot to do outside, and before we jumped into the movie-marathon mode, we did some ‘homework’ together. And, actually, it turned out to be fun.

After we were done, it came to me the realization of how we’re been raising our kids, immersed into hybrid cultures, always moving, always surrounded by different languages, doing homework in Portuguese, and proudly showing it to grandma, explaining her (in English) the task performed, and thanking grandpa for letting him borrow pencils and eraser, in Spanish… It sure made me stop and think: is that how it’s supposed to be? The children seem to adjust well to changes,  but how far is it possible to go, without stretching it out?

That said, my intrigued soul found some very good reading, from adult TCK authors, and we’re likely to become contributors, sharing experiences and thoughts, along the way…

Here it is -  interesting reading about becoming an adult third cultured, still remaining your own creative person.

“Creative thought, one of the world’s most valuable commodities, is something that has started to become somewhat elusive as our generations have progressed. It’s a principal that is born of original thought, the need to invent, and the want to produce something that others will seek value in. It has led to the development of the wheel, to the creation of the keystone arch, the sundial, the plough, the lens, the camera, the story, the song, the car, the computer, and the hadron collider. It has developed our species, improving our state of living and the reasons for which we live. Creativity, as a force, is what brought us from hunting with sharpened sticks to flying through space.

Yet that word, creativity, one we use so frequently for so many things, holds a weight to Third Culture Kids that’s only outmatched by the word “culture.” Of course, if you were to look a little closer, to really examine the core concepts of both those words and the implications that each of them posses, you would find that not only are they connected, but they are almost inseparable.

Being creatures of culture, TCKs posses that natural ability to rapidly evolve their cultural standpoint based on the community that surrounds them. We have a way about us, one that does not allow for us to be considered the same as those we interact with, but instead allows us to be accepted by them. We can see what others cannot, can move in circles where others would be outcasts. We view culture not as a boundary, but as a gateway into the heart of the world.

As TCKs, we do it subconsciously, unaware that we are behaving this way but aware of our talents and our ability to meld into something new. We missed it as we grew up, took it for granted as children while we hopped from place to place, but since we have matured and grown and become the Adult Third Culture Kids we are now, we have seen how naturally these behaviours are to us by watching how impossible they are for our First Culture Kid friends.

The question that remains, however, is what power does creativity have in the hands of a TCK? Creativity is a mental state that’s not accessible by everyone. It’s a unique problem solving technique for an extremely unique type of problem. Humanity is hard-wired to only understand patterns. For example 1+1=2 because every time you take the number one and add another number one, you always end up with two. Why? Because it always happens, and it happens because that’s just the law of mathematics. Creatives, however, push the bounds of that human limitation. We accept the laws because they are there, but we believe in that off-chance that maybe, just maybe, by some freak possibility or coincidence, the next time I take one apple and add another apple to it, a third apple will spring into existence and I’ll have three apples. We know it’s foolish, we know that based on the laws of mathematics and the physical restrictions of our universe it’s impossible. But we hope for the alternative.

This constant longing for the middle ground between impossible and spectacular is a trait that we incorporate into our regularly occurring existence. There’s no denying the fact that we, as TCKs, do not have a cultural home, possess no country in which we can return to, and have no place on this planet that we truly fit into. We are trapped outside the realm of normal human interaction, completely incapable of returning to a community or culture that is truly our own. So instead, we have turned to creativity.

Through creativity, TCKs have built-up groups of people, from friends to colleagues, that are so strong and so interwoven into our lives that they have become our own little cultural home. We have selected them for their differences, for the ways in which they can help better our lives and the lives of those around them. We have selected them for their value, for their desire to improve upon a situation and the relentless need to always take that next great step. We have created a culture of people who will stop at nothing to change the world.

So when you are next asked what it means to be a TCK, answer in whichever way you believe best resolves an impossible question. But know that if you and I are ever fortunate enough to meet, and you ask that question to me, I will simply smile and say the following:

It means that one day, with the help of everyone else, one plus one will equal three.”

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 13, 2011 in EDUCATION, school, TCKs

 

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Eleven months of folklore in Brazil: dressing accordingly…

In Brazil there’s always an excuse to dress up for parties and/or traditional celebrations. Here’s a small sample of our kids’ past 11 months in-country:

Day of Folklore, honoring a national writer, dressing up as a talking doll, from Sítio do Picapau Amarelo, Ms Emilia, Marquesa de Rabicó:

Dia das Bruxas – Halloween. At school and with the neighbors

Carnaval, as traditional Frevo dancers

Matutinho & Matutinha, ready for the June Celebrations!

and off to School they go!!

 

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Pumping for the future – thoughts on life and work balance in the Foreign Service

This past weekend I finally got my way around the Foreign Service Journal. As most of us already know, the Journal, including the AFSA News section, is published monthly, with each issue covering foreign affairs from an insider’s perspective. Well, this last edition was entirely focused on Foreign Service Work-Life Balance.

One article in particular, from Elizabeth Power, really caught my attention and triggered me to write down some personal thoughts and comments regarding the issues related to get back to work after having a baby, having to balance the need to keeping a healthy baby home, away from his nursing mother, breast pumping techniques and challenges, work flexibility and the social perception of a breastfeeding mother in the expatriate/foreign service scenario.

Regarding the scope of this particular post, I believe it’s unnecessary to list out the countless benefits of breastfeeding, for both mom and baby, as well as for employees’ improved evaluations of their work-life balance. Many women have made sacrifices to continue breastfeeding after they return to work. We do this despite the inconvenience of hooking ourselves up to a milking machine three times a day, because the health benefits for our babies and ourselves abound.  For the past six years, I’ve been a nursing, breast pumping, bottle-feeding mom. Any technique that would seem possible, realistic, and why not say, loving, I’d adopt!

At first, with some guilt, especially when you’re having your first baby, not so sure about how you’re supposed to manage a new baby, riding the Metro to work, surviving the extended hours away from the baby… With my first child, I knew very little about alternative feeding techniques. Traditional breastfeeding seemed to be my only route, and my obligation as a new mom, especially considering I come from a Latino family, where women are brought up to become loving caretakers… Visits to the lactation consultant helped immensely, but did not diminish my (uncalled for) guilt. My husband and I asked for help. Friends, family. We had both sets of baby’s grandparents living with us for the initial 9 months. I needed to get back to work and perform accordingly, while husband kept his regular working hours. In the best of circumstances, expressing milk at work can bring lactating women a new kind of camaraderie with their colleagues, not to mention management support as they carve out break times, find private accommodations and use sinks to clean equipment. But pumping can also be inconvenient, awkward and downright impossible at worst, depending on the job and the workplace.

Life was challenging, but we managed. The experience made me learn how to use and benefit from an electric breast pump, how to store and transport breast milk. Unfortunately, I’d started to learn a little too late in the process, and by the end of the third month, my firstborn was fully dependent on baby formula. But we learnt, with our actions, our attempts, our mistakes. We learnt.

The lessons learnt proved to be extremely helpful when baby #2 came along. As soon as I found out about the pregnancy, began visiting the La Leche League websites, acquiring information, reviews, opinions from other parents… Before we welcomed our baby girl, I’d already gotten a modern electric breast pump, with replacement parts, storage bags, and a “back up/safety” shipment (thanks to the Pouch!) of the pediatricians’ most-recommended baby formula (one never knows, right?). We, as second-time parents, seemed to be good to go.

And things were way easier that time. Breastfeeding was a breeze, and kept both mom and baby as happy as they could be. The practice made the perfection. When it was time to bring our 28-day old baby girl from South Africa back to Mozambique, her mom comfortably used the electric pump in the car, during the 2-plus car drive, stopping to rest, feed and cross the border. Batteries were key, and they make for an extraordinary accessory for breast-pumping moms! Always have them handy – no electricity? no problem!

Once I had to return full-time to work - an USAID contractor – my boss, who by coincidence happened to be a mother, and somebody who understands the challenges a new mom has, was very sympathetic to the cause, and allowed me to use one of her offices, as well as the office’s kitchenette fridge for storage. Probably, the most difficult part was dealing with the skeptic looks I got from my local co-workers, not used to that practice. That flexibility allowed me to attend meetings with PEPFAR partners, and to travel to the provinces, always carrying my pumping gear, bottles and cooler! The balance between work and life had been achieved!

Now we’re on baby #3. Still nursing and still pumping. I’m not a full-time worker anymore, but expressing milk enables me to get back into the “workforce“, as a part-timer. I spend more time with my baby, and I know we both benefit from that. I also have support: the patience and help from my dear husband, who watches the kids while I “disappear“; I’ve got help from a wonderful nanny, who learnt first-hand how to manipulate the milk and prepare the bottles; and I’ve got help from my 2 toddlers, who have seen their mom pumping-and-feeding in recent years. They understand the importance and are respectful to the process: “Shhhh, be quiet. Mommy needs to feed to the baby…

Once more, we seem to be achieving the balance between work and family life…

Bonus: Tip

Have you ever melted pump or bottle parts when boiling them? (be honest!)

Try this: When boiling items such as pump or bottle parts, put a couple of glass marbles into the pot and stay within earshot. If the water level gets low and the pot is about to boil dry, the marbles will start bouncing and clattering in the pan and alert you in time.

 

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Day 275 in Brazil: What we’ve learnt about entertaining our children, without going crazy…

Day 275 in Brazil: What we’ve learnt about entertaining our children, without going crazy…

The Miranda Family arrived in Recife at the end of July 2010. We had lots to look forward to: a new baby on-the-way, the proximity to the Brazilian grandparents and the opportunity for our children to improve their Portuguese skills, the apartment by the beach and plans to take several short trips while living in Northeastern Brazil.

We’re 9 months into the assignment. This post wasn’t a totally new experience for us since we’ve visited the Country several times before we moved here. Visiting was fun and care-free. Living and adjusting as a family, a little harder than we’d expected, but still very manageable.

Our familial “nucleus” is constituted of 2 adults, 2 toddlers (3 1/2 and 5 1/2 yrs-old) and a 5-month old baby, and being a parent/caretaker requires lots of diplomacy, negotiationpeacekeeping, policy implementation and strategy skills. That said, managing a household, its respective juvenile population and the consequent budgetary implications, is a… HUGE, EXPERIMENTAL and UNFORESEEN task!

There is a never-ending need to keep kids and parents sane (as much as possible). Family outings require loads of planning and logistics management – even if we’re just talking about a Sunday lunch!

  • Here are some suggestions for entertaining the kids (without pulling our hair off), we’ve learnt along the way:

Take advantage of the warm weather and have them learn how to swim at school!

LEGOS, building blocks, puzzles - you name it! Life-savers on a rainy day

Encourage the interaction between siblings - great strategy to avoid "middle child" syndrome

Have friends over for unplanned singing sessions!

Encourage kids to participate in school's cultural events & popular celebrations

Make sure they are exposed to artistic/musical expressions. As much as possible!

Take short trips with kids and have them experience some "cultural blending"

Coordinate for play dates with other children. Include athletic and sports activities. Supervise.

Show your children how to respect, love and appreciate nature

Celebrate every milestone. Show your support. Have fun together!

Be open about trying new activities and experiences. Offer the opportunity to learn new motor skills.

Let your children know it's okay to be silly!

Make a super-extra-conscious effort to be part of the school activities.

And, most important of all: show the children your unconditional, unreserved love. At all times! At the end, our goal is raising happy, self-confident human beings, right? We’re trying to do our part


Surprise your children. Here are some links on good stuff to do around Recife:

  • Praia de Boa Viagem (beach) – natural war water pools protected by coral reefs guarantee a delicious time a the beach. The sand and waters are continuously monitored by the state’s environmental agency, CPRH and are pollution-free.
  • Jardim Botânico de Recife (Botanical Gardens) – a natural reservation measuring 25.7 acres, a member of the Brazilian network of Botanical Gardens.
  • Parque Dois Irmãos (park) – one of the most beautiful and picturesque green areas of the city, the 38.7 ha park is a zoo, botanical and environmental education centre and an
    Atlantic Rainforest reservation. Ecological walking trails are guided by Biologists.
  • Parque da Jaqueira (park) – located by the Capibaribe river, the park covers 7ha and its the city’s largest one. Very green and has got beautiful gardens designed by Burle Marx.
  • Parque 13 de Maio (park) – also designed by Burle Marx, in downtown Recife. Children’s playgrounds, jogging lanes, benches, royal palm trees and sculptures.
  • Museu do Homem do Nordeste (museum) – one of the most historical and anthropological museums in Brazil. Hosts the “Family at the Museum” program.
  • Paço Children’s Project – contemporary arts program in Recife.
  • Escolinha de Arte do Recife (Junior Art School) – dedicated to awakening creativity and love for the arts in children.
  • Mirabilândia – one of the largest amusement parks in NE Brazil, the fairground has more than 20 rides divided into radical, family and children.
  • Game Station – there is an arcade in every major shopping mall, offering electronic games and fun for children and adults.
 
16 Comments

Posted by on April 25, 2011 in FAMILY, resources, TCKs

 

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Golfing for Japan: expats in Recife (Brazil), united for Japan

Living overseas brings you countless opportunities. Today, my family enjoyed a wonderful morning with other diplomatic and expat families. Helping is fun and rewarding.

My husband was one of the 36 guest players. The tournament included representatives from the US Consulate, French Consulate and from the host Japanese mission… All players were asked to provide an “entry fee” for the tournament, which would be transferred to the Japanese Red Cross.

I’m proud of my husband, as an amateur player and as an example to other parents, and brought our kids to support the effort in helping the Japanese Consulate in Recife to raise money to help the victims of the recent tsunami…

The participants were greeted with a great luncheon provided by the Japanese Consulate and we all enjoyed a great performance offered by the musical group Ren Taiko, which means “Lotus Opium“.

Event: Fundraising Golf Tournament, coördinated by the expat community in Recife, PE. Including representatives from the Consulates in town, expatriate families, businessmen.

Venue: The Caxanga Country and Golf Club in Recife

Date: April 3, 2011.

 

Pictures to come soon! In the meantime, I’d like to show my gratitude to the Consulate of Japan in Recife, for allowing us to enjoy a very nice Sunday, surrounded by friends.

 

 
 

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