Friday, March 9, 2012

Parenting Abroad

Belle with her classmates & teacher
It is a hard decision to take your child overseas, moving her from the town she has grown up in, and all her friends, to a country her parents remember only from a Middle East geography quiz in high school.  Overall, Belle has adjusted remarkably well.

Last night we were able to experience one of her school events that helped to confirm that this is a good experience for her in her understanding of the world.  Her school had a World Cultures Day, which was very different from the Cultural Diversity days I remember having in NH as a high schooler - where we had special guests come in to introduce a small aspect of their culture for one day, and then we went on with our lives the next day - whereas Belle is every day experiencing new cultures, foods, and people, and she gets this experience in third grade! The parents and students surrounding us were truly a global representation of humanity.

The evening started with UAE National Anthem, followed by a parade of flags from around the world, mostly representing the nationalities of students and faculty associated with her school.  It was eye-opening to me that I was not able to immediately identify which country each flag represented, and even later, still relied on signs to identify the different countries. Belle is already better at matching the country to the flag than her parents.

After some more musical presentations celebrating different countries, there were booths to visit representing a large number of countries, complete with signature foods. Belle and I tried the Phillipines' booth first, and had delicious egg roll and samsoas type food. From there, we tried Syrian, Egyptian, English, Jordanian, Palestinian, Indian, and other countries. There was even a USA booth giving out hot dogs, KFC, cotton candy, popcorn and apple pie. The Canadian booth had a small tub of "snow" too! 

I think one of the best parts for me was seeing how involved Rob has become in Belle's school. The teachers and staff, and other parents, recognize him from his daily drop-off and pick-ups, as well as for the time he spends checking on Belle's progress and that of our friends' children, who he also transports. In the states, it was always the role I took charge of, so this is a new experience for us all. It makes me realize how lucky I am that I have a husband who was willing to move across the world, and also how lucky our daughter is to have a father who is happy to take an active role in her life.

The last piece I want to share is bringing it more globally. As a family, we probably pay more attention to the countries surrounding us then we did at home, with some added perspective. Last night, Belle made a point of bringing me to the Palestine booth. She wanted me to know the story of the little boy who doesn't show his face. He will only show his face when there is peace in the Middle East. This is a story that I couldn't have taught her at home, but she knows and will always carry with her because of this experience. For that, I am grateful.

1 comment:

Teri said...

I was overseas at the same age as your daughter. Believe me, the experience will live inside her forever and will help shape how she relates to the world around her the rest of her life.