Thursday, October 2, 2008

moms coffee morning

Today we had a coffee morning with all the moms from Juliet's class. I had not met most of the moms yet, or just briefly when we were bringing the girls to school. But today we actually had a meeting at somebodies home and talked and get introduced to each other. Most of the moms had been an expat for a few assignments, so we didn't have these new-comers who have no clue how an expat life is working. I find it is a different breed of people. People who are not just used to 1 country, but are more citizens of the world. Easy to adjust to new surroundings, and we had quite a nice chat. About the school, about our life style here in SA. About the best places to shop, or to visit, or spend your vacation. Very important stuff, because if you don't get this information from your fellow expat friends, you won't find it elsewhere. Our world is quite exclusive....and I mean that in a way that we figured out that most of us don't have deep relationships with the local people. So we relay on our friends, like other people do relay on their family. Most of the moms come from a different background, we have moms from Sweden, Korea, Germany, Peru, USA, India, Japan, Tunesia, France and me Dutch. So you can see that it is a very mixed background, with each their own difficulties moving to South Africa. We talked about the language problems some might have, the maid situation (always a popular topic), the housing, the lack of electricity at moments you need it most, or the lack of water....even worse!

We also talked about Third Culture Kids aka Global Nomads. Yes, there is actually an official word for our children! I googled it and this is what wikipedia says about it: "refers to someone who [as a child] has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture". TCKs have become a heavily studied global subculture. TCKs tend to have more in common with one another, regardless of nationality, than they do with non-TCKs from their own country. TCKs often come from highly successful, intact, educated families. When a group (whether it is the military, a business, church, etc) decides to send somebody to a foreign country, they are making a significant investment. They want to send people who will represent the group the best and provide the most value for the investment. TCKs also tend to come from families that are closer than non-TCK families. They will also have a smaller likelihood of having divorced parents (divorced parents are unlikely to allow their ex to take their child to another country.) "The strength of [the] family bond works to the benefit of children when parent-child communication is good and the overall family dynamic is healthy.

Most of us as parents had stayed in one country and have a strong feeling of belonging to a certain country. Most of our children don't. Since they are still young I don't believe it is a problem, but getting older and entering teenage stage, this loss of belonging can actually cause quite some problems. So I am eager to learn more about this topic, and most of us mothers are.

Most of us have young children, and we were all fine to travel a few more assignments before we are planning to settle down. But the question of most moms was; where do you settle down?? Most of us had traveled already so much that we didn't feel a strong bond to our home country, and most of our children weren't even born in that country. So why go back? It became quite an interesting topic, a topic we hadn't finished yet when the coffee morning was over. But there seems to be a seminar coming up on this topic...many books are written about Third Culture Kids so I am going to look into a bit more and keep you posted. Because I know some of my readers are also expats and are dealing with the same issues.

I wish you all a sunny day! or as they say in Zulu: usuku olubalele!
Mireille (say: Meeray)....I know some of you were wondering how you would pronounce my name ;-)

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