10 November 2008

field trip!

Teaching third culture children presents some interesting dichotomies.

My students can't go outside and play by themselves, but we're taking a field trip to Moscow. The cast of Seussical is on its way to show the elementary students in our big, Moscow school our play later this week. It's a first for us. And we're excited! About ten of these students are only third and fourth graders, (Can you parents of eight- and nine-year-olds imagine sending our child to Moscow for three days?) but a trip to Moscow while exciting, is not out of the realm of normal for them.

We were talking about how we'll travel (train this time) and some security procedures we'll need to follow (no one leaves the train car--even to go to the bathroom--without an adult) when questions came up about seating. I asked how many people had taken this train (the "sitting up" train as opposed to the "sleeping" train) to Moscow. Only two people had. When I asked who had been on a train before, every hand was raised and some scoffing, "Of COURSE" noises were voiced.

It's amazing to me what is normal to my students. They can convert currencies in their heads, regularly carry their passports, are more likely to suspect visa issues than the flu for an extended absence of a classmate and are experts at navigating an airport. They are friendly and flexible. They know how to blend in to a foreign culture. But, they don't ride bikes to their friends house, know much about their "home country", and only three of my twenty-two cast members can turn a cartwheel. They learned to swim, ride bikes and tie their shoes late.

There are advantages and disadvantages to raising a third culture child. I've read about it, attended seminars and done a lot of observing. Some families, most families are much closer and much stronger. They are the constant. Siblings are closer--better playmates and more staunch protectors. But, there is an element of insecurity. Moving every three years becomes a habit. Many tck have a hard time reintegrating into their home cultures when they return. And, many live unsettled lives--moving or reinventing their lives frequently. I thought I'd come home soon after adopting. But, recent developments have made me think that I might prefer to stay abroad for the next four years. ;> For now, I'll settle for a trip to Moscow. We'll let you know how the touring version of Seussical goes!


Katie said...

So I should stop looking for a house for you in my neighborhood, then?

Tina in CT said...

I hope you are Tamara will be able to meet up when you're in Moscow. The girls would love to see your play I'm sure. And, there are smocked dresses waiting for D2B.

I'm glad the girls spend over a month in the US each summer so they are not "out of it" by living in Moscow.

Jim said...

Verrry exciting! What an experience for those kids (and for you)!

Annie said...

OK, I've wondered before... What is the "third" in "third culture"? These children must be children of foreign families, in Russia. Isn't that two cultures? I'm confused, I guess. One reason I ask is that there is a remote possibility that we might move our family to Korea. That seems as though it would indeed be three cultures - their Russian homeland, American family/citizenship and Korean situation. Also, I was wondering, having seen a lot of children in these situations - is it wise? Or will it make them crazy? I worry in particular about Ilya, who has not actually learned English anything like fluently. How can he now go to school in Korean?

The trip sounds amazing! I hope you do meet Tamara! I have responded to a few ads for teachers in that school...but I don't think the pay would support us all. :(

BTW, neither I nor any of my children bio or adopted can do a cartwheel. I thought I was pretty cool when I learned a backwards somersault.

Suzanne said...

Wow - what an adventure. You are braver than I.