Being expat

Sea Change Mentoring: Symposium on Supporting Global Youth

Bildschirmfoto 2013-10-12 um 21.10.01

Ellen Mahoney, Sea Change Mentoring (©expatsincebirth)

Today I attended a very interesting Sea Change Mentoring Symposium on Supporting Global Youth “Addressing Assets and Challenges”, organised by Ellen Mahoney, CEO and Founder of Sea Change Mentoring and Board of Directors of Families in Global Transition (FIGT).

Sea Change Mentoring is an online mentoring program that helps Expat youth prepare for going back to their home countries, minimize reverse culture shock and maximize the benefits of having lived abroad.

Kate Berger, MSc Child Psychologist, Child Development Specialist and Expat-Kid Cultural Consultant, talked about “Identity, In Context: The influence of changing environments”. – A sense of self helps young people “to ground and is the platform from which they to step off to impact the world. How is a young person’s identity influenced by factors in his or her environment? Why does changing environments sometimes lead to difficulties in answering the question “Who am I?” and why is it important to support young people in this process of self-discovery?” In her speech she pointed out how belongingness is even more important for expat kids who have to readapt and learn constantly new norms. The more secure a child is, the less it is stressed and is able to develop awareness. Mindfulness and empathy play a major role in helping the children in changing environments.

Kilian Kröll, President of Third Culture Coach and Vice President on the board of Families in Global Transitions (FIGT). hold a speech about “Breaking the Mold: Identifying and supporting expat youth from non-traditional backgrounds”. Even if expat families are “traditionally identified (…) in the context of institutions, such as International Schools, military bases, embassy affiliation or missions organizations”, “many expat children and Third Culture Kids “hide” in non-traditional circumstances that prevent them from receiving vital resources.” Based on his own experience as expat child from divorced parents, attending local schools and identifying as gay, Kilian illustrated the needs of youth who don’t fit the expat mold and demonstrated brilliantly how powerful impact the expat communities have when they break the mold themselves. He also pointed out a very important aspect of expat families: the transitions of parents and children are very different.

Ellen Mahoney, Ceo of Sea Change Mentoring, did talk about “The Power of Mentoring for Third Culture Kids”. In fact, formal youth mentoring programs exist in the US since over 100 years and a lot of research has been done on “the effectiveness on mentoring teens in transition”. Globally mobile community has a lot to learn from this research and it can be vital for Third Culture Kids. Sea Change Mentoring does take these lessons and applies them “to help youth maximize the benefits and minimize the challenges of an international childhood”. She openly talked about her own experience as a TCK and her reverse culture shock. Her program is perfectly tailored for youth in transition and is a great intervention tool because a mentor can not grade a child (because he is not a teacher) or ground a child (because he is not the parent).

Sara McMickle, Counselor at The American School of The Hague did present “A Safe Harbour: Supportive programming in an international school setting”. In order to help “children, parents and staff cope with the challenges, and maximize the opportunities, inherent in the experience of international relocation and cross-cultural mobility”, A Safe Harbour is a “preeminent model in international schools worldwide for how to address the challenges of mobility at international schools. This programm supports Third Culture Kids and lessons learned along the way.

Katherine Fortier, Child and Educational Psychologist, talked about her experience with 363 children from 24 schools in “International Education: Great fish in little ponds”. Some globally moving parents choose an international school when posting outside their home country. Kathrine Fortier showed brilliantly the risks and challenges inherent of this kind of decision that are not immediately apparent. Especially the high expectations seem to be a major issue. Kathrine did introduce some of the key protective factors that help many students thrive as well as risk factors that lead some students to flounder. For example, she pointed out that less movings are beneficial for the accademic success of Third Culture Kids and expat children and she emphasized the need to build bridges with the parents’ help in order to support the children to perform better.

Josh Stephens, Director of International Development at ArborBridge speech “Where to Next? College Applications and the Expat Kid” was about the application process to American universities. It is the most complex application process in the world. Choosing among 4,000 different colleges doesn’t make it any easier and for many TCKs this process can be even “more challenging, as students prepare to settle in the US and choose, perhaps for the first time, where they want to live”. In his talk for professionals who work with TCK’s and expats who are not familiar with the current state of university applications, he provided a very important overview of the US application process with special attention to the unique challenges that students face when they apply from overseas.

Upcoming events of Sea Change Mentoring in The Hague area:

Monday 14th October 2013, 18:00-20:00 at The American School The Hague

Lecture: “Global Success: Preparing Expat Youth for Adulthood

“Having an international childhood has many advantages, and a few challenges here and there. In order to be successful, young people must find ways to make the most of the experiences and skill-sets picked up in this global life while learning to recognize and prepare for some of the challenges they may face as they transition to adulthood.”

Participants will:

  • Learn how to make the most of the experiences and skill sets picked up in an international childhood. Including:
    • The positive attributes of the expat youth/third culture kid profile
    • How to connect these attributes to what universities and employers are looking for
    • How to choose the right university and thrive once there
  • Learn how expat youth can manage and/or minimize the difficult aspects related to the transition into adulthood. Including:
    • The challenges of the expat youth/third culture kid profile: reverse culture shock and other issues like restlessness and difficulties in relationships
    • Key strategies that parents and teens can use to manage those challenges
  • Learn how mentors can help expat youth through this transition and how Sea Change Mentoring works
  • Network with other participants to help strengthen a supportive community around these matters
  • Connect with a number of related resources

(cfr. © from The American School of The Hague)

Thursday, 17th October 2013, 19:30 to 21:30 at Van Hogenhoucklaan 89

Workshop: Resilience for Global Teens

Ellen Mahoney will join Passionate Parenting for an evening workshop for parents and teenagers looking at the skills teens need to succeed in work and life and how to help them develop these skills.


Please note that excerpts were taken from the handout of the Symposium and are © Sea Change Mentoring.

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