As a parent of Third Culture Kids, I sometimes feel as if I am balancing between two states of mind. At times I feel that giving our daughters the opportunity to spend most of their formative years in another culture has been one of the best decisions of all of our lives, the pinnacle of great fortune, and will serve them well their entire life. At other times, I feel as if I’ve scarred them forever and would do well to sign up for a lifetime supply of psychotherapy (staying true to our Vienna ties) for the whole clan.
I’m proud to report that this past weekend’s graduation ceremonies for my oldest fall unarguably into the first category, and therefore, in this post, I will leave behind the angst and self-doubt that can come with this adventurous lifestyle and confidently declare, ” I did my child right.”
There were plenty of “bonuses” that made this weekend special. One was serving on the senior dinner committee with a multitude of multicultural moms that culminated in an event at the residence of the American Ambassador to Austria. Elegant, uniting, and, most importantly, a blast! Collaboration among the cultures resulted in a personalized photo booth, school logo sheet cake, delicious food and wine selections (yes, our 18-year-olds have been legal for two years and handled the social drinking with aplomb), and a fierce band playing classic rock tunes that had students, teachers, Moms, Dads, and even the occasional Oma and Opa lifting their hands up to “Shout”.
Another was a personalized ceremony in the historic and grand Palais Ferstel. Graduates walked their traditional procession into a room laden with ornate architecture and chandeliers. Although small class sizes can sometimes feel a bit too close and personal for developing teens, such was not the case at this ceremony. Prior to receiving the coveted diploma, the 58 students of this graduating class received personalized pomp and circumstance with short summaries of proud moments of each student’s school experience. A beautiful choir rendition of “Bridge over Troubled Water” continued the theme of “Bridging” to new life adventures and connecting the many cultures that make up our unique school.
But the proudest moment for this mother who has held her crying children as friends leave year after year for other destinations around the globe, and who has run, stressed and haggard, holding tiny hands through international airports, was when my oldest daughter, born in The Netherlands, and having spent the majority of her years living between cultures, heard her name called during that ceremony for something other than the stellar academic career she had achieved.
“The CIS International Student Award goes to Nicola McCafferty, in recognition of her contributions to the promotion of global citizenship and the development of international awareness in her community.”
This, my fellow worried, insecure, anxious parents of Third Culture Kids, is why we do it. So put aside your angst for this moment, and be aware, that we are, in fact, raising the pioneering global citizens and leaders of the world, and of the future.
And Hats Off to us, as well!
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