Friday, 25 November 2011

How The "Other Half" Lives...

The chart below compares the lives of an Expat Teen attending an International School with that of a local Canadian who grows up in the same house, neighbourhood and community for the period from birth to the end of high school. While these profiles are not representative of all Expat Teens or Local Canadians, they are representative of the profiles of teens with whom we have come into contact:
Growing up as a Swedish/Indian citizen in                  Growing up as a Canadian citizen in Canada
different International schools around the world
-Attends an International school with a varied                -Attends a local school with a national 
curriculum (PYP, middle school curriculum, IGCSE,          curriculum and graduating provincial certificate.
IB or an adapted national curriculum from an outside
country, or the local 'host' country).

-Grows up in a cultural melting pot of nationalities,      -Grows up in a monoculture environment; peers
with differing family values and societal norms.               relate to and identify with the same food, music,
Exposure to and knowledge of music, food, language,     movie/TV stars, politicians, schools, sports, 
family values, and religion, are often vastly different.       and language.
-Confronted by different cultural norms and values in    -Can identify with norms and values in home
the home environment, i.e., live-in maid/helper, and        environments; students attending local schools
different financial backgrounds.                                     live in the same district with similar socio-
                                                                                economic backgrounds. Public schools are not fee

-Influenced by home/parents/peers when making          -Influenced by home/parents/peers/community/
decisions.                                                               extended family/teachers/role models in direct
                                                                                 environment when making decisions.

-Confronted by more differences than similarities;         -Relates more to similarities than differences in
socio-economic status, cultural background, home         peer group.
language, can live anywhere in "host country."

-Growing up as "outsiders", unable to fully integrate     -Growing up fully integrated as part of a school,
into the local communities/neighbourhoods/schools     community, and family.
and centres (sports/social/community).

-Substantial differences in access to money and              -Variable access to money and financial freedoms.
financial freedom amongst peers. Very limited                 Opportunities to earn money independently
opportunities to have a part-time job and,                       through babysitting and/or having a part-time job
therefore, earn money.                                                 which, in turn, exposes students to new
                                                                                 responsibilities and opportunities.

-Different and sometimes-conflicting freedoms in          -The local laws consistently dictate the age when
deciding where to go and what to do - taxi access,           teens can engage in certain activities, which is
buying alcohol and cigarettes, gaining entrance              often reinforced by school, community, and 
into clubs/bars, direct exposure to older/mature               family.
and experienced crowds. Freedom and access 
differ from country to country.

-Sometimes have different/fewer responsibilities            -Cultural norms and socio-economic background
in the home as a result of having a live-in maid/              dictate exposure and access to household help, 
helper. This results in an impact on the teens and            which, in turn, impacts/influences responsibility in
on the roles/responsibilities of their parents.                     the home environment.

The lives of Expat Teens can be challenging as a result of being exposed to so much change, cultural diversity and societal norms. Stay tuned for our soon-to-be-released book, ‘Expat Teens Talk’, to learn more about what these challenges are. Read what the Expat Peers, Parents and Professionals have to ‘say’ in terms of providing helpful advice, support and solutions.

In the meantime, TALK to us via our “Comments” section and let us know what’s on your mind…

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