Friday, March 18, 2011

China, Japan, Earthquakes...expats family's concerns!

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We have family living in Shanghai, China.  They live on the east side of the city...Pu Dong.  Their house is on a golf course and the China Sea spills into their living room when the monsoon season comes each year.  We try not to worry because they are very responsible world citizens.

Third Culture Kids
When the earth quake hit Japan last week we remembered that our son and his wife had applied for jobs in Japan last year.  How different their and our lives are because they did not get that job. We received a simple text message from them that said "We are tsunami!"  Then as we began to get word of nuclear reactor problems we like the parents of children that attend the school where my son is deputy superintendent were very concerned about how that could come into play.  In fact, all parents in China are very worried about the health of their children.  How could they not be.  I realize how much pain and worry parents of expats living in Japan must be experiencing.

So the reality is that parents in that part of the world are talking about iodine therapy to remove radiation just like the parents along the west coast of the United States.  They too are rushing to find solutions for a problem that will probably never arrive at their shores because of prevailing winds.  My husband and I know that we are truly citizens of the world when it comes to issues that affect our environment. We know that no country or community is isolated from a disaster like the one in Japan.  In fact, we are feeling  closer to cultures we do not understand because we see that their life is a reflection of our own in so many ways.

The expat schools in China have banned together to provide their communities with consistent and truthful information.  They are relying on their country's embassies and the government in Japan and China to keep them informed.  As in the United States, parents expect the school to be their protector.  The schools are not equipped to do that job but are willing to be the transmitters of information to their parents.  Every day is a challenge.

For people like myself, it is hard to wrap our minds around the place where expats live and work.  It is a nether world of an extraordinary kind...especially in times of crisis.  Those people that live in a Third Culture Society understand they are in fact citizens of a larger world...citizens of their own country, citizens of the country where they reside, and citizens of the world.  Their pool of resources is very unlike ours.

As a grandparent of two granddaughter who are called Third Culture Kids, I am very grateful, sometimes a little fearful but always very excited for the life they lead.  As for the situation in Japan, I am reminded that the earth we walk on is a very fragile place and I try to tread lightly.

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