Leaving to teach overseas can negatively impact your relationship with parents and grandparents who question the soundness of your motives. Add grand kids to the mix and WATCH OUT! Feelings can intensify and confrontations are sure to escalate. And should the country you’re working in be featured on international news, your reasons for moving the children overseas are sure to come under additional intense scrutiny. Sometimes, family members get just plain mad—mad because you’ve taken away grandchildren and theoretically placed them at risk of alienation to their nation and family.
For those of us who have successfully raised our children while teaching in International Schools, however, there is a much different story to be told with a definite silver lining to the lifestyle for both parents and children.
Here are two of the best reasons to raise your children internationally:
• Quality of Education – While it is true, of course, that not every International School is of the highest caliber, most have a wealth of deeply concerned parents (aka: paying customers) who can and will demand that exceptional standards of education be met. They have expectations that their children will graduate and ultimately attend a Western university. To this end, International Educators (such as yourself) are recruited and brought to schools at considerable expense from throughout the world to contribute to such high standards. All parents, yourself included, can expect that your child’s academic needs will be met. Unless you were paying for a private school back home, do you think you would have that same direct oversight of your child’s education? Would you have first-hand knowledge of how your child is progressing through the grades and classes if you were not there, working at your child’s school? Would you have the same opportunity to contribute to your child’s education?
• Broadened Sense of Identity – It may not be possible for your children to have classmates who are lifelong friends or attend a homecoming dance or be involved in a 10-year reunion. It’s true, they may not get to swing from the rafters of grandpa’s barn quite as frequently, or play Scrabble with cousins during Thanksgiving holidays. As international students, however, children have first-hand experiences with projects such as repopulating chimpanzees in an African rain forest, or participating in a weekend camp out/clean-up on an Asian beach. Chances are good international students will learn the language of friendship and camaraderie from their classmates of many nations, or even learn to fluently order breakfast at a Parisian restaurant. Children overseas have the wonderful experience of immersion in the extensive sports, dances, art and music of the continent on which they live and to maybe even travel to surrounding countries to participate in Model United Nations or sport tournaments or Knowledge Bowl. As developing citizens of the world, International School students truly live the global life and their horizons broaden exponentially—they become true Citizens of the World.
It’s not true that children are too fragile to adapt, that only through family relationships and public school oversight can they develop well. In fact, with broadened vistas of the world and all it has to offer, they can become stronger, wiser and, ultimately, deeper adults. And isn’t that what we all hope for in raising our children?
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