The end of the school year at every international school brings up a full range of emotions from excitement to sadness. Students are busy finishing up their projects, celebrating achievements, and looking ahead to their summer plans. Some are looking forward to the next grade. While quite a few are preparing to leave SIS for their home countries or a new destination. Part of being a caring community at SIS is recognizing how these transitions impact our students and coming up with plans to best support them. Below are tips and resources for our ‘leavers’ also known as students who are moving on and our students who are staying with us next year.
The plus side to being a Third Culture Kid (a student who grew up in a culture other than their own) at an international school are the worldly adventures they get to embark on at an early age – meeting different people, experiencing different cultures, learning new languages, etc. The challenge is the task of navigating these changes, learning to make new friends, adjusting to new cultures, and saying goodbye. At SIS we talk to our leaving students about building their R.A.F.T. as they experience their transition from our school to their next destination. We acknowledge that leaving is not just a simple goodbye on the last day of school, but a whole process and as a counselor, I have been involved in helping your children experience this process. The RAFT consists of the following (from https://raisingtcks.com):
R = Reconciliation
Reconciliation is just that: reconciling with people, making the relationship right. Just because you leave a place doesn’t mean the problem goes away. It doesn’t – instead it goes with you. Research has been done on health related issues due to unforgiveness. Just google it and see for yourself.
A = Affirmation
Is there anyone you are super thankful for? Anyone who has helped you greatly while living in that city? Tell them. Let them know how much you appreciate them and what they did for you, for your kids, for your family. Awkward? Write a letter to tell them – but just tell them. You have the opportunity to make someone feel appreciated – and you’ll feel great that you did it.
F = Farewell
This is the not so fun part; saying good-bye. You immediately think of all the people you want to tell good-bye. An article I just read on this topic stated to rank your friends, which sounds harsh, but I do think is a good idea. Don’t forget to say “Good-bye” to places and things as well. This may sound strange, but it really helps to bring closure. This one is important for kids as well. Plan these “events” on a calendar so you get them in. I’ll write more on this later this week…so much you can do to help your kids here.
T = Think Destination
It’s just that – think about the next place. How will it be different from where you are now? How will it be the same? Go through this dialogue with your kids as well. It will help them in the process as well. Look up on the internet and read about the new place. Check it out on Google Maps. Reminder: It’s okay to feel excited about the new destination as you say good-bye to all the old things. It’s normal.
For parents of leaving students, I encourage you to discuss the RAFT with your children. In my experience, students who have been given the opportunity to discuss and reflect on the RAFT process are able to experience more positive closure as they leave their current school and move on to the next place.
More TCK resources:
For families moving back to their home countries: http://www.figt.org/repatriating_children/
Recent BBC Article on TCKs
For the Geckos Who are Staying
Experiencing their friends leaving is also a difficult time for our middle school students. They are actively involved in saying goodbye to our ‘leavers’ because it helps them experience saying farewell in a positive way. Part of this process includes the leaving videos and leavers assembly. Moreover, being proactive with helping our students with this process can help through the most difficult moments of the transitions. I recommend parents do the following with their students who are staying:
- Your children may or may not want to discuss this with you at home, but as parents you might find it helpful to check-in and ask them how they feel about having to say farewell to their peers
- Encourage them to spend extra time with friends who are leaving
- Technology is a useful tool in keeping in touch and many past students maintain their friendships with friends from all over the world because of Facebook, iMessage, etc. Scheduling video chats with friends they miss is a great way to maintain contact
Summer Resources and Activities
We strongly encourage our students to continue to read, read, read over the summer. Mr. Yung has informed me that once the Library completes their inventory, students are permitted to check out 3 books from our secondary library. Moreover, our library’s Overdrive account has over 400 digital titles for students to check out. Please also reach out to your children’s different teachers. They would be happy to share information on summer academic activities that will help your kids keep their skills honed. Lastly, we encourage students to enjoy the summer outdoors, spending time with family and friends, and engaging in opportunities where they can meet new peers.
Here are some resources in the Shenzhen/Hong Kong area that are accessible to our students: