The Foreign Service Journal - October 2014 - page 62

Letter to My Global Nomads
Our time in Costa Rica
is nearly done and we’re
headed for Honduras, which
has left each of us feeling
variously excited, nervous,
curious and grief-stricken.
Lately I’ve been thinking
of some things I hope our
kids are soaking in, about
being a Foreign Service fam-
ily and life in general.
The challenges we face
as nomads are some of our
most important teaching
tools—something I’m trying
to remind myself of more
often. Our upcoming move
has gotten me thinking of
some of the lessons I think
are important for our chil-
dren, so I decided to sit down
and write them a letter.
My Darling Children,
I know our lifestyle is
unusual, and it brings us
unique challenges, I want
to share some things with
you that are important to
remember as we continue on
our journey.
1. Try your best to go into
each host country with an open
I don’t have to tell you
that moving is tough, and it’s
even tougher when you’re
leaving a country you love.
Leaving Ireland was pain-
ful for all of us. I’ve learned
over the past two years that
expectations can sometimes
be harmful and it’s better to
accept a country for what it is.
2. Do not compare your
host country to other coun-
tries, especially the ones you
love the most.
Boy, was I bad
about this when we moved
here, and I’m sorry because I
know that rubbed o‹ on the
three of you. It accomplishes
nothing and only leads to
feeling resentful toward the
country that will never live up
to the favorite
3. Be open to the unique
gifts each country can give
Every country, even
the toughest to live in, has
gifts to give, and if you’re
not open to receiving them,
you’ll never know what they
are. All the hours we’ve spent
body boarding in Jaco, the
monkeys that have shaken
trees around us, hikes we’ve
taken in the rainforest at
night—these are all gifts,
and incredible ones at that.
So remember to be open to
4. Try to find something
beautiful in your host country
every day.
Keep your senses
open and be conscious of the
world around you.
5. Find the humor in the
It’s easy to get
frustrated when things don’t
work properly or when you’re
dealing with an infrastructure
that could use some help.
And it’s ok to be frustrated
by those kinds of things—
they’re frustrating! But try
to see the humor in those
6. As your dad and I tell
you, you represent the United
This is an honor, so
remember to be a positive
example of our country. All
three of you have been amaz-
ing at this, I am beyond proud
of you. Keep up the good
7. Find a way to give back to
your host country by volun-
teering or helping out in some
It’s always good to bring
more kindness and compas-
sion to the world by giving the
gifts each of you has to o‹er.
8. Living in a foreign
country isn’t always easy, and
it’s rarely simple, but people
who don’t live the kind of life
we live don’t always realize
So when people look
at you cross-eyed if you are
venting a frustration, try to
remember that not every-
one understands the unique
challenges that go along with
living overseas. But don’t
ever be hard on yourself for
being frustrated
or upset. It’s just
part of being
9. Remember
that you are you,
no matter where
you have landed in
the world.
Hold on
to your core and
your beliefs. I’m
not saying don’t
be open to change
(it’s important to
grow), but your
core, along with
our family, gives
you stability. So
stay true to your-
selves, always.
10. Remember
that our roots are portable. We
live kind of a weird life.
I know
that sometimes it feels like
there are parts of you scat-
tered all over the globe, but
we always have each other
and we have proven time and
again that our roots are like
steel. Above all else, remem-
ber that your dad and I love
each of you with our whole
hearts, and as long as we are
together we will always be
All my love,
Heather Harper-Troje is a
stay-at-home mom to three
precocious children and the
wife on an FSO. Her husband’s
assignments have included
Conakry, Dublin, Baghdad
(unaccompanied tour), and
San Jose. Their next assign-
ment is Tegucigalpa. Her blog
can be found at
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