Page 50 - FSJ June 2012

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50
F OR E I GN S E R V I C E J OU R N A L / J UN E 2 0 1 2
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AFSA Hosts Panel on Third Culture Kids
BY DAVID J. BARTON, AFSA STAFF
O
n April 2, AFSA hosted a panel of
four experts on the challenges and
rewards of raising and nurturing
children while living mostly overseas.
ForeignService families obviously account
for a large percentage of these young peo-
ple, known as Third Culture Kids, but
many others fall into that category, aswell.
The panel consisted of Ruth Van
Reken, co-author with David C. Pollock
of
ThirdCulture Kids: GrowingUpAmong
Worlds
(Nicholas Brealey Publishing,
2009); curriculum design specialist and
teacher Rebecca Oden; author and edu-
cator Julia Simens; andRebecca
Grappo, founder of RNG
International Educational
Consultants. AFSA President
Susan Johnson moderated the
lively discussion.
Gearing their conversation
toward the large ForeignService
crowd in attendance, eachpan-
elist drew on a wealth of per-
sonal and professional experi-
ence in educating children
brought up in amobile lifestyle.
Ruth Van Reken, for instance,
noted that her father, himself a
TCK, had imparted lessons he
had learned while growing up
in numerous countries around
the world.
“One of the things that was
very important in my family was import-
ed traditions, things that we did nomatter
wherewewere,” she recalled. For instance,
while posted in Africa her family always
shared a cup of Kool-Aid every weekend,
an American symbol of something that
could not be purchased locally.
Rebecca Grappo encouraged Foreign
Service parents to focus on the strengths
of their children. “You will find they
become more resilient as a result,” she
observed.
As insightful as all the panelists were,
what trulymade theevent sospecialwas the
camaraderie among dozens of former
Third Culture Kids in the audience, many
of whom have TCKs of their own. They
shared experiences, asked thoughtful and
sometimes poignant questions, andcarried
on a fascinating dialogue about how best
to nurture these special young people.
If youwould like toviewthe discussion,
please visit
www.afsa.org/AFSAVideos.
aspx.
As insightful as all the panelists
were, what truly made the event
so special was the camaraderie
among dozens of former Third
Culture Kids in the audience.
(Clockwise, top left) AFSA’s panel on TCKs drew a crowd of note-
takers, busy parents and one child. During the Q&A session, mem-
bers of the audience lined up to ask the panelists questions, and
peppered them with more at the end of the discussion.