Successful Living Abroad: Global Lecture Series

September 15, 2010

Check out our new favorite site!

‘Successful Living Abroad,’ an 18-part on-line global lecture series based on the expatriate family book series by ExpatExpert. It’s FREE and devotes most segments to Raising Global Nomads.

About the author:

“As the Expat Expert, Robin Pascoe is well known abroad for her inspirational and informative articles, corporate presentations, and best-selling books. She is the author of five widely-used books on global living. Since 1998, her popular website has served as an international meeting place, discussion group, and source of advice and information for hundreds of thousands of expats world-wide.”

Congratulations Robin!


Families on the Move: Challenges and Opportunities

September 9, 2010

Liz Perelstein recently published Families on the Move: Challenges and Opportunities (pg 42), in Mobility Magazine.

The personal tale of the heartache and immense growth due to a relocation is a must-read for any family considering international relocation!

Here’s a snippet ~

“You know what personal trainers say: “no pain, no gain.” Now a member of the “global mobility” world, I am almost embarrassed that my only overseas assignment was 12 years ago in a Western, English-speaking location—London—and for a predictable three years. But for me and for my family, even that relatively sheltered adventure provided an abundance of pain, out of which came infinitely more gain.”


“America’s Best” ~ Another Perspective

May 5, 2010

By Liz Perelstein

President,  School Choice International

The article entitled “America’s Best Prep Schools” that appeared in Forbes (April 30)  hurts kids.  The article relies on the flawed assumption that the best school for one child will suit another.  Anyone who understands children or child development is aware that not every child thrives in the same academic environment. Despite this obvious reality, impressionable but well intentioned parent readers of this article will feel, more than ever, that their child is being shortchanged by receiving inferior education.  Parents today already use every tool in their arsenal to “get their children in” to the schools that someone has identified as the “top” or the “best.”  The sad result has been revealed to me in countless conversations with private school admissions officers and psychologists: “getting in” isn’t enough. These are the children who fail, get counseled out or inevitably suffer low self-esteem when even daily tutoring can’t help them succeed in an incompatible environment. Is it responsible to foster the prep school frenzy – at the expense of children – by simplistically elevating a handful of prep-schools while effectively diminishing all others?

Moreover, using university admissions as the major criterion for rating schools is imperfect, at best.  While there is little doubt that small classes, individualized attention and access to faculty provide students with unparalleled opportunities, are these the key to Ivy League pipeline that these schools enjoy?  Might the large endowments boasted by this “top 20” (ironically another, and self-reinforcing, criterion for rating the schools) suggest that these prep school parents may be disproportionately represented among alumni and major contributors to these universities, a known factor in college admissions?

Parents need to learn to ask the right questions to assess whether these schools are right for their children.

Unfortunately, parents and students take these lists very literally; they reinforce the natural insecurity in human nature and encourage those seeking prep schools to focus exclusively on the name brand. Do children need – or even benefit from – country club like campuses?  Should parents be looking at access to facilities rather than facilities per se?  Who gets to play on the 15 tennis courts or the eight lane competition swimming pool or the golf course?  Will their child have that opportunity?  Do these schools use their lavish facilities to teach sportsmanship or to win?  Is the risk-taking behavior and self-confidence encouraged by favorable teacher/student ratios undercut by the exclusivity and competitive spirit that mark some of these schools?  Parents need to learn to ask the right questions to assess whether these schools are right for their children. Forbes has successfully promoted its magazine through this article.  Can it use its prominence to promote kids?


A New Role for Boarding Schools

December 24, 2009

In the last decade, the role of boarding schools in America has been in transition.  Schools that began as  finishing schools for children of wealthy American families have become a vehicle for opportunity as enrollment of Asian students, in particular, has grown.  Now considered a conduit for overseas students interested in American universities, boarding school attendance in the USA during secondary school years ensures that students become proficient in English and possess the academic requirements to attend American colleges and universities.   Currently the percentage of international students in American boarding schools exceeds 15%, with numbers from South Korea, China and India significantly on the rise. 

For further information on attending boarding school in the United States from abroad, contact info@schoolchoiceintl.com.


Repatriation and Identity: Paul Pederson

September 18, 2009

For the next few weeks, we’ll explore three different theories related to Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and repatriation. Note that these are theories, not facts. As we will see, the theories all have their own merits, but they don’t always agree.

Click here for Part I

Part II

Last week we discussed Storti’s model, which describes three basic phases of adjustment after repatriation: the “expectation of the home culture,” a “cultural incident” and developing “culturally appropriate expectations.” Paul Pederson[i] expands Storti’s model by describing five stages of culture shock. (Most scholars call culture shock upon repatriation reverse culture shock, however the Pederson’s model still captures many of the nuances of the experience). According to Pederson, culture shock begins in the honeymoon phase, when a person has yet to experience culture shock, then a “cultural incident” causes disintegration or disorientation and confusion. During the reintegration stage, the individual begins to resolve the cultural dissonance (reminiscent of Storti’s “culturally appropriate expectations”). In the autonomy stage the person develops a greater awareness of herself and others, and finally reaches the interdependent stage, which consists of a new multicultural identity.

Girl at Mirror

Let’s see how these stages might apply to Lisa’s (fictional) experience. This is the same story, with a few additions to fit the model.

Lisa, an American, Third Culture Kid, grows up in Egypt, Morocco and France. Her mother works for the American State Department. Like her mother, Lisa feels she represents the United States, and her mother often says, “You’re an ambassador as well!”

Lisa brings peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school and wears Old Navy jeans on the weekends; she plays softball on the school team and friends joke about her American accent. Lisa represents the United States of America abroad.

Culture shock begins in the honeymoon phase, when a person has yet to experience culture shock.

Lisa can’t wait to return to the United States. Finally she won’t be the foreigner anymore! Her love of peanut butter, Old Navy and softball will be the norm, rather than the exception. No one will even notice her accent. Finally, Lisa will feel like she belongs—just as everyone fits in at home.

A “cultural incident” (much like Storti’s) causes disintegration or disorientation and confusion.

On the first day of school, Lisa meets her classmates. One girl says, “oh, you have such a cute accent!” Lisa lets it slide. Lisa has to fill out health forms, so she tells the nurse she is 170 centimeters tall and the nurse gives her a look. Lisa turns red, but lets it slide. After a short conversation, a boy says, “you’re kind of like a foreigner!” Lisa fights back tears and wants to go back to France.

During the reintegration stage, the individual begins to resolve the cultural dissonance (reminiscent of Storti’s “culturally appropriate expectations”).

Lisa learns to gage when her friends are interested in stories from her time abroad, and when she meets someone who doesn’t seem interested, she can usually engage them in a lively conversation about baseball.

In the autonomy stage the person develops a greater awareness of him or herself and others.

Lisa begins to understand that her international background does not make her any less American, but does make her different from some of her peers. Lisa realizes she has many friends from many different cliques, and begins to explore how she is similar and different to her peers. This process can be draining, but is important to Lisa.

Finally reaches the interdependent stage, which consists of a new multicultural identity.

As Lisa learns what to expect from her friends and teachers, she begins to feel connected to her school community. She understands, respects and even cherishes both her American heritage and international experiences and actively keeps connections to both worlds.

Next week we will explore W. E. Cross’s theory of Nigrescence.


[i] Pederson, P. (1995). The five stages of culture shock: Critical incidents around the world. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.


Repatriation and Identity: Craig Storti

September 11, 2009

For the next few weeks, we’ll explore three different theories related to Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and repatriation. Note that these are theories, not facts. As we will see, the theories all have their own merits, but they don’t always agree.

Part IThe Art of Crossing Cultures

Craig Storti[1] uses a model of adjustment to explain how Third Culture Kids (TCKs) reacculturate. Storti argue s that all TCKs have expectations of a culture, especially what they consider their “home culture.” However when a “cultural incident” disproves their beliefs, TCKs react in anger, fear or embarrassment, which causes withdrawal and/or analysis of the situation. Slowly, TCKs develop “culturally appropriate expectations” and approach situations with new insight.

Let’s apply this theory to a (fictional) story.

Lisa, an American Third Culture Kid, grows up in Egypt, Morocco and France. Her mother works for the American State Department. Like her mother, Lisa feels she represents the United States, and her mother often says, “You’re an ambassador as well!”

Lisa brings peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school and wears Old Navy jeans on the weekends; she plays softball on the school team and friends joke about her American accent. Lisa represents the United States of America abroad.

Storti argues that all TCKs have expectations of a culture, especially what they consider their “home culture.”

Lisa can’t wait to return to the United States. Finally she won’t be the foreigner anymore! Her love of peanut butter, Old Navy and softball will be the norm, rather than the exception. No one will even notice her accent. Finally, Lisa will feel like she belongs—just as everyone fits in at home.

Being measured at schoolHowever when a “cultural incident” disproves their beliefs, TCKs react in anger, fear or embarrassment, which causes withdrawal and/or analysis of the situation.

On the first day of school, Lisa meets her classmates. One girl says, “oh, you have such a cute accent!” Lisa lets it slide. Lisa has to fill out health forms, so she tells the nurse she is 170 centimeters tall and the nurse gives her a look. Lisa turns red, but lets it slide. After a short conversation, a boy says, “you’re kind of like a foreigner!” Lisa fights back tears and wants to go back to France.

Slowly, TCKs develop “culturally appropriate expectations” and approach situations with new insight.

Lisa learns to gauge when her friends are interested in stories from her time abroad, and when she meets someone who doesn’t seem interested, she can usually engage them in a lively conversation about baseball. As she learns what to expect from her friends and teachers, she begins to feel connected to her school community.

Next week, we’ll look at Paul Pederson’s five stages of culture shock.


[1] Storti, C. (1990). The art of crossing cultures. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.


Searching for Schools in a New Country: Meeting Children’s Special Needs

September 9, 2009

Mobility Magazine Cover

Lucy Mellors and Liz Perelstein published

“Searching for Schools in a New Country: Meeting Children’s Special Needs”

in MOBILITY Magazine, September 2009.

Family concerns remain the most overwhelming reason for assignment refusal or failure, and this challenge is heightened when addressing a child with special needs. A well thought-out process and high standards can be the difference between success and disaster when moving special-needs children. Lucy and Liz outline 13 comprehensive steps, as well as an explanation of how to accomplish each step. The process includes:

  • Start with the child, not the school;
  • Conduct an in-depth analysis of the values of the family;
  • And be aware of the curriculum differences relevant to the move.

This article is the perfect guide for any parent facing the challenges of an assignment of repatriation.

The entire article can be found here.