Friday, 28 October 2011

A Teaching Moment...

Teachers often see teenagers through the eyes of what they expect of them. For example, a biology teacher will expect his/her students to learn, to thrive and to be successful in the classroom and on tests, presentations and exams. The English, Language and maths teachers will expect the same. How do teachers deal with students when their expectations are not met….do they express disappointment or anger? Are they upset? Do they personalise it? Or, do they look further than what they see and what they know in terms of their relationship and expectations of a particular student? Is it a teacher’s responsibility to see teenagers as human beings with complex needs? Do teachers take the time to consider all the many, many other things that might be going on is a teenagers life that could impact performance and results? How many teachers ask the teenagers in their classes how they are doing? How they are really doing? Are teachers aware of and interested in the complexities teenagers are confronted by as a result of adolescence? Do they take into consideration the enormous impact that hormones, developmental physical change, emotional change, and relationships with peers, family, and people around them have on their well-being? Sometimes, poor performance on a test, in a sports match, or in the music or art studio can be as a result of: having had a fight at home; having had an argument with a peer, a boyfriend, a girlfriend; having discovered a pimple; being upset about having a ‘squeaky’ voice; facial hair; and/or feeling ugly, unhappy or unstable. Sometimes it is necessary to take the time to think back and reflect on your own teenage years and remind yourself of how you had moments of awkwardness, confusion, inner difficulty, and how others around you just did not seem to understand. Remember what it was like for you and the next time a teenager does not meet your expectations, stop and think about what else might be going on in their lives.

“Expat Teens Talk” A book to ‘hit’ shelves in bookstores worldwide, is all about what teenagers think, feel and are going through. Read it and lean more. In the meantime, TALK to us and let us know what’s on your mind…

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Expat Teens Talk Blog Extra: Jo Parfitt's New Book

We know that most of our blog entries are about specific topics that we think are important and relevant to our readers, particularly in preparation for our upcoming book, Expat Teens Talk. However, we also know that we could not have gotten to this point in our own journey if it had not been for those who blazed the trail before us...

Therefore, it is with great pleasure that we introduce a new book by Jo Parfitt, entitled "Sunshine Soup: Nourishing the Global Soul" (available on Amazon: Amazon purchase page ). This literary jewel (which is Jo's 28th book but her first novel) is expected to speak to the hearts of expats and food lovers around the world. So join us in congratulating Jo on her most recent accomplishment!

Stay tuned to this space for updates on our soon-to-be-published book, Expat Teens the meantime, TALK to us and let us know what's on your mind...

Friday, 21 October 2011

Household Help

For many Expats - parents, professionals, teens and children alike -  learning how to live with household help in areas where it is considered the norm is another aspect of change to get used to when living a transient global life. Should the helper live in or live outside of the family home? Should the helper eat with the family or not? What are the boundaries, what are the roles, what are the ‘rules’ and the ‘norms’?? These questions and challenges are very common for the first time Expat or the Expat exposed to household help for the first time. How does one learn how to live with an unknown person from a different country with different cultural, religious,  and social background? The role between helper and children is also undefined. Many Expats are heard questioning, should I leave my baby, toddler, youngster, adolescent with my helper? Will she know what to do? Can she handle an emergency? Can she make a ‘right’ decision when there is a problem? Will she discipline my kids? What happens when I am not at home? When I am not looking? There are a host of ‘horror’ stories about things going wrong or being unexpected with Expats and household help, but, there are also, probably more success stories. Many Expats are able to resume careers, develop new skills, spend more quality time with their children, their partners and their friends as a result of having household help. Employing someone to live and work in your home is recognized as a norm in many countries and recognized as a foreign thing to do in others. In many parts of the developing world employing household help can be an expectation in  creating much needed employment and providing opportunities for individuals to have access to a different life, earn an income and become more independent.

Adapting to household help must be as challenging as learning to live without those who help in the household when you move from a country from where it is the norm to a country where it is  not an option. It’s interesting to ‘flip’ the table and look at something from another perspective. I only realised this when sitting with a group of Expats who had lived with household helpers their entire lives and only when they moved to the USA midway through their careers as established ‘independent’ adults did these individuals realise they really had to learn how to do laundry, how to cook, how to take care of and run a household.
Expat Teens have to make that adjustment as well, though their perception is not usually elicited…until now. “Expat Teens Talk” is a new resource that identifies some similar issues that Expat Teens are dealing with and their perceptions about those issues, along with feedback from their fellow Expat Peers, as well as from Expat Parents and Expat Professionals. Stay tuned for more information. In the meantime TALK to us and let us know what’s on your mind…

Monday, 17 October 2011

Drinking, Drugs, Sex

There is always a first time in life for everything. How do we best prepare our children for their first time….their first ‘drink’, their first cigarette, their first experience with drugs, or with sex? Providing them with the information they need is one way. Educate them about the law when it comes to alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, and even sex. Educate them in making the right decision, decisions they will feel good about after they make them. Educate them on how to protect themselves, from sexually transmitted diseases, from peer pressure, from knowing how to make the right decisions for them, decisions they will always feel good about.

Knowledge is power! The better informed our children are, the better prepared they will be to make the right decisions for themselves. In an ideal world, our children take on board the wise words of wisdom we supply and support them with. But, what happens when they make a wrong decision, when they make a ‘mistake’? What happens when they are out with their friends and have too much to drink and find themselves in situations they do not feel good about?  What happens when they find themselves in situations that carry consequences that they cannot deal with on their own, such as contracting a disease, having an injury, or becoming pregnant? Do we, as parents, yell and scream at them and remind them ‘I told you so’? How do we - as parents, as families - deal with the unexpected, the difficult, the “first time” situations with our children that we have never dealt with before? How do we learn more about what to do or where to go? How do we learn more about what other parents would do, or what professionals would say? 

“Expat Teens Talk,” a resource that has solutions, advice and support for many challenges Expat Teens go through, attempts to offer the answers and advice that you as parents, and the teens themselves, need to guide and support your teens through the challenging years of change - adolescence. Remember, as a parent and as a teen, you are not alone! Learn from others, read what they have to say - read “Expat Teens Talk”, coming soon. In the meantime, TALK to us and let us know what’s on your mind…

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Support, advice, mentorship

Many of you reading this blog are familiar with Expat Life. Expats are those who live outside of their country of birth and/or their passport country and tend to have with transient, nomadic lives. What you may not think as much about is how your life compares to those who do not live such a transient lifestyle. Let’s look at these two groups, referring to them as Non-Expats and Expats.

Kids growing up in a monocultural environment (i.e., Non-Expats) are individuals who may live in the same house on the same street in the same community their entire lives. As a result, they tend to have different access to support than kids who grow up as Expats. Non-Expats tend to grow up with community access. They usually know some of their neighbours, and they are often involved in community sports, music, art, or other related commitments. Many attend a neighbourhood place of worship (church, synagogue, mosque, etc.). These children are very likely to attend the same school, growing up with a stable and constant peer group and being supported by teachers who watch them grow up in the school environment. These constants, or anchors, expose Non-Expat children to people who know them, who look out for them, who care about them and who are there for them. Non-Expats often have access to friends of the family, the extended family, neighbours, teachers, parents of friends, religious representatives (priests, etc.), and other people in their community  whom they can go to when they feel the need to talk, when they seek advice, when they need support, or when they have a problem. Their circles are bigger than just the nuclear family. Non-Expats have access to a community of support in times of need.

As many of you know, Expats grow up moving from one country to the next. With every move they are most often confronted by change, lots and lots of change. Expat kids need to learn to be adaptable to change in order to survive, in order to thrive. Their access to support changes each time they move. Building relationships with people they feel comfortable and confident with to ask for support when they need it takes time. When an average stay in a country is 3-4 years, sometimes they do not have the time they need to build and develop trusting relationships.

Where can Expat Teens go for the support they need? Who can they go to to ask for help? “Expat Teens Talk” is one resource that will soon be available for Expat Teens, Expat Parents and Expat Professionals. This resource aims to recognize the challenges that come with being a teenager and being an Expat. “Expat Teens Talk” is a book full of stories written by Expat Teens around the world who shared their challenges, their difficulties, their fears, and their stories. In return for their submissions, groups of Expat Peers, Expat Parents and Expat Professionals have responded, providing support, solutions and advice for the Expat Teen who needs it. In the meantime, TALK to us and let us know what’s on your mind…

Friday, 7 October 2011

Do famous Expat Teens adapt easier to International moves than the rest of us?

Cruz Beckham. Apple Martin. Maddox Jolie-Pitt. Lourdes Leon. Estelle. You may not recognize their names, but you do have something in common with them – they are Expats. When David Beckham was traded to a USA soccer/football team, he took his family to the USA as well, thus making them expats. When actress Gwyneth Paltrow married Chris Martin (from Coldplay), they made one of their primary residences in the UK, making her children Expats. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have been consistently referred to as ‘Global Ambassadors’, moving all over the world with their young children. Lourdes X may not look exactly like her famous American mother, Madonna, but she has lived in the UK for much of her life, making her an Expat Teen. Singer Estelle (“American Boy”) is a British pop star who splits her time between the UK and the USA, thus making her an Expat Professional. And while they are all popular (or are children of popular parents), they have to deal with some of the same issues that you non-celebrities do. They have to acclimate to their new surroundings. They have to find the best school for their children. They have to find the best apartment. They have to find the store where they can buy their favorite brand of food that they don’t think they can live without. They have to discover a new favorite restaurant. And they have to do it all with the help of their “relocation crew.” For them, that may be high-priced assistants and “entourage members” who can scope things out ahead of time and make sure that everything is ready when they move. For you, it’s your mother or father, or in some cases a  relocation agent who gives your parents some ideas and suggestions about where to live and where you should go to school, but ultimately leaves it up to your parents to figure out the rest (of the details). Either way, it takes adjustment and that is something that all of you – celebrity and non-celebrity, alike – must learn how to do.
So, does being famous make that process easier? Do you think that having more money means that a person has more resources at their disposal? Maybe so…then again, maybe not. Some of you are Expat Teens who are living in places where you may be well-off, financially, but that does not mean that you know where to go when you need help. You may not have celebrity parents, but that does not mean that you feel like you can go to them to discuss sensitive issues? In Expat Teens Talk, Expat Teens around the world shared their struggles with adjusting to various issues related to being an Expat and were provided with advice and support about how to address these issues. Stay tuned to this spot for more information about how and when you can get a copy of the book. In the meantime, TALK to us and let us know what’s on your mind…

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Starting over

Some Expat Teens like the fact that they can move around a lot because doing so allows them to “start over.” If they are in a school they can’t stand, moving to another country will allow them to “start over.” If they are in a situation with peers that they just can’t seem to click with, moving to another country will allow them to “start over.” Some of you may feel like that, and such a feeling is completely normal! We all, at one time or another, wish that we could have a “do over” like we do when we are playing video games. Even the professional tennis players get a chance to “do over” if they botch a serve, thus allowing them to salvage a point that they would have otherwise lost. Golfers don’t have that luxury. So, if you’ve had a chance to have a “start/do over”, how have you used that to your advantage? Have you truly just “tried again,” taking the lessons that you learned in your previous experiences to help you make better choices the next time around, or have you used that second/third/fourth/etc. chance to re-invent yourself into someone that others may not recognize? As I said before, it’s completely normal to embrace wanting to have another chance to do it right. However, keep in mind that there’s a fine line between making those changes for a new and improved you, and escaping situations so that you don’t have to deal with them.
In our book, 'Expat Teens Talk', Expat Teens around the world sent in submissions about various issues that they were dealing with. Some of them addressed this issue of being able to “start over” and the benefits and hazards of doing so. If you are in a similar situation, continue to watch this spot for more information about how you can get a copy of Expat Teens Talk to read advice and support from your fellow Peers, Expat Parents, and Expat Professionals. In the meantime, TALK to us and let us know what’s on your mind…