February 16, 2017

Workshop: How Global Mobility Affects Adults and Children – Insights Diplomats with Tina Quick

“This was a very good seminar. Thank you. All diplomats should go through this.”

Diplomat

Tina Quick, a nurse, cross-cultural trainer, author and founder of International Family Transitions, taught and facilitated an interactive workshop for 40 diplomats and their spouses. Her insights – based on lifelong experiences growing up in a military family and marrying a medical doctor working in global health management – provide guidance to families in transition or living cross-culturally.
“What actually takes place in families during a global relocation? What are the challenges they face and what strategies can they implement? Why do the children in such families feel different: “from everywhere but belonging nowhere”?”
Tina asked the audience to consider what actually takes place in families during a global relocation. What are the challenges they face and what strategies can they implement? Specifically, why do the children in such families feel different: “from everywhere but belonging nowhere”?

She said the overarching challenge for such families is understanding and managing the five stages of transition:

  • Involvement (a sense of belonging)
  • Leaving (anticipation vs. sadness)
  • Transition (chaos, emotional instability)
  • Entering (desire to connect, vulnerability)
  • Re-Involvement (feelings of security & intimacy)

Each stage is accompanied by a unique set of emotions. Experiencing each stage can be difficult, but it is normal and ultimately leads to the stability of feeling settled again.

“Children are silent partners in relocation.” Robin Pascoe, author of Raising Global Nomads
Tina then addressed the challenges facing parents who are raising children across cultures. Quoting Robin Pascoe, author of Raising Global Nomads, she said, “Children are silent partners in relocation,” and that transitions work best when children are informed, know what they are getting into, and have at least one parent to count on as a stable presence.

She offered some important definitions in her discussion of strategies for parenting globally mobile children. “A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.” (Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds by Dave Pollock and Ruth Van Reken).

“For most TCKs, the collection of significant losses and separations before the end of adolescence is often more than most people experience in a lifetime.” (Pollock and Van Reken)
Children living a high-mobility lifestyle are subject to feelings of grief and loss: “For most TCKs, the collection of significant losses and separations before the end of adolescence is often more than most people experience in a lifetime” (Pollock and Van Reken). Tina noted that overcoming the symptoms of culture shock, which can take one to three years for adults, will usually take less time for children. Communication, establishing familiar patterns, unconditional love, consistent parents, faith and prayer are keys to family stability through this time.

Participants enjoyed two workshop opportunities to help process and apply the information. One was geared toward identifying the benefits and gifts common to TCKs. The responses that were shared included cross-cultural awareness and acceptance, language skills, flexibility, adaptability, bridge-building, a broad world view, and the foundations for being true global citizens.

“It is my conviction that being a TCK is not a disease, something from which to recover. It is a life healthily enriched by this very TCK experience and blessed with significant opportunities for further enrichment.” (Pollock and Van Reken)
While acknowledging that a few transitions can be so difficult as to require help outside the family, the reality is that the transition experience offers positive ways for families and children to grow. “It is my conviction that being a TCK is not a disease, something from which to recover. It is a life healthily enriched by this very TCK experience and blessed with significant opportunities for further enrichment” (Pollock and Van Reken).

Resources for Parents and Children:

  • Third Culture Kids, David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken
  • Raising Global Nomads, Robin Pascoe
  • Home Keeps Moving, Heidi Sand-Hart
  • A Broad Abroad, Robin Pascoe
  • Homeward Bound, Robin Pascoe
  • Expat Teens Talk, Pittman and Smit
  • The Art of Coming Home, Craig Storti
  • The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition, Tina Quick
“Thank you so much for this wonderful experience. I’ve learned a lot, especially since my family and I are going home this year. It gives us an idea how to handle and understand my kids when we go home.” Spouse of a diplomat

“Thank you for organizing such a great and resourceful event. Being my first time outside of my country, I could identify with the process. I will use this information to help my family settle in better. This is empowering to us.” Spouse of a diplomat

Tina Quick photo

Tina Quick

Tina Quick is a cross-cultural trainer, international speaker, author of The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition and founder of International Family Transitions (IFT), serving the needs of globally mobile students and their families. As a Transitions Expert, she has spoken at universities in China, Ecuador, Japan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. She has moved 29 times and has raised her three children across four continents.

Tina served as the Health Officer for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for six years while living in Geneva, Switzerland. She has also served on the Board of Directors of Families in Global Transition and was Chair of the Program Committee for their annual conference. She is a member of the International Association of College Admission Counselling and served on the Advisory Board of TCKid, an active international community of third culture kid adults and youth.