Wednesday, 24 August 2011

To my children...

I know that this is hard for you, as it is for me. To see the people you love, and be a part of their lives, for only a moment and then to walk away. It feels like you are a visitor on their journey, a holidaymaker as someone else. The familiarity, and ease, is overwhelming.

I know that this is hard for you, as it is for me. Wondering when you will see them next; when you will be here again. Forcing yourself to take that flight back to normality; to school and work; to routine and a culture you might have immersed yourself in, but to which you will never belong.

I know that this is hard for you, as it is for me. But I can promise you that it is worth it. The skills you are learning, the life that you are leading, will present you with opportunities that I dream of for you. Your exposure to other cultures will, hopefully, develop in you the ability to be tolerant, to adapt and to accept that not everyone is the same. Difference is not something to be afraid of.

I know that this is hard for you, as it is for me. To walk away from them. But be assured that it is Ok to make your own path. Be independent. Be extraordinary. Be different.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Culture Vulture

Introspection and reflection are the cornerstones of good teaching. At least, that's the mantra one repeats after a two year, part time PGCE. The trouble with being introspective, is that you have a tendency to apply it not only in the work place, but throughout your own personal life. And so, this recent trip to the UK has me apply those very skills to the idea of belonging to a Country's culture.

We all joke about Expat Brats: the breed of children we are raising in someone else's Country. But there's more to being an expat brat than having difficulty picking a vacuum cleaner out of a line up of household equipment. There's the lack of identifiable culture to which you belong.

I used to belong here. I used to be able to identify my values, my manners and my culture amongst the debris of British society. But I am struggling. I have to ask myself whether it is society in my own Country that has changed, or is it me? Am I now such an outsider that I see the UK with new eyes? There's no doubt that, even if I had stayed, I would be lamenting the evils of looting and rioting in the Country's major cities but as an outsider, these actions become representative of society as a whole. What I see is a fragmented society; one in which there is no sense of community because that sense has been removed. 'We owe each other nothing' rather than 'united we stand, united we fall'. And I am saddened and a little ashamed. Sheepishly will I walk back into immigration in Dubai, with my British passport in my hand.

I want to slap Blighty about the face and say 'come on, stop sulking and get that sense of culture back'. When my own expat brats ask me to which culture they belong, I want to be able to list what's great about the UK, so pull your socks up and give me something to tell them.