June 1st, 2011

Grad Is Upon Us


Grad Is Upon Us

In two days, 60-something seniors will graduate from Black Forest Academy. This is a big deal. It’s a big deal because it’s a milestone they’ve been working towards for 12-plus years, but it’s also a big deal because graduation will usher in what will probably be the biggest change of their lives.

Senior Transition Day

In April, I had the privilege of participating in Senior Transition Day. It was a day meant to help prepare them for transitioning to their passport countries. The day covered topics like building community, what it’s like to go to college as a Third Culture Kid, how to say goodbye to BFA, and how to say hello to America. The Seniors even received practical information about opening a bank account, what documents they need to take, and what to consider when getting a phone plan. I spoke on a panel just for the girls. We talked about managing your time and money, The Freshman 15, drinking, dating, boundaries, sex, extracurriculars and more. I was very excited to participate and greatly enjoyed my time with the girls. I hope the Seniors learned from this day; I certainly did. I walked away from Senior Transition Day with a greater appreciation for the immensity of the change these kids are about to encounter.

College is a big transition for everyone. For most people it means moving away from home, being on your own for the first time, learning to manage your money, your time, your weight, and a whole slew of other things. But BFA kids aren’t your average American teens. These are kids who’ve spent more of their time speaking French than English, who grew up using the British Pound instead of the America Dollar, who know their shoe size as 41 rather than 9. The majority of the BFA Seniors have no bank account, no driver’s license and no idea how to pay their bills. For most Third Culture Kids, college is a HUGE transition.

Simple Question, Difficult Answer

For example, one of the questions I got asked most often during my first few weeks of college was, “Where are you from?” With BFA kids, I make a point not to ask this question. When I do, I get blank stares and then a slew of questions. “Do you mean in America? Where I’ve lived the longest? Where I live now? Where my parents are from?” Instead, I ask, “Where is your family now?” Can you imagine how challenging this seemingly simple question will be when they encounter it 500 times during their first week of college? Should they even try to explain?

Some TCKs have spent no more than a few months at a time in their passport country. They may speak the language, be an American (or Canadian, or Korean, or Australian) citizen, and look the part, but inside, they don’t feel American. They feel Turkish, or Italian, or probably a combination of all three. Finding out who you are is a difficult task for anyone, but for TCKs, there are whole other arenas of identity to figure out.

These students have rich, diverse, and distinctive histories, backgrounds and experiences. These aren’t your average American kids (I recently heard one student list off the seven languages that he speaks), they’re going to face more challenges than the average college freshman. But underneath all of the challenges are the same basic questions: Who am I? Where do I fit? What is my purpose?

Pray for Seniors

Could you pray for these seniors as they embark on the journey of adulthood?

Pray for courage. Pray for grace. Pray for patience.

Pray that they will be willing to ask for help, would be gracious with their fellow countrymen who might not understand, and would run to Jesus in their distress. Pray that they would know the nearness of God in the midst of what might seem like a vast loneliness. Pray that they would learn that He is their identity; He is their home.

3 Responses to “Grad Is Upon Us”


  • Josh says:

    It would be cool if one of the kids graduating came here for college and we could take them under our wing and help them out.

    • Dani says:

      Actually, at least one of the Seniors is going to JBU. Want me to try to put you in touch?

  • Becca Horner says:

    Great post, Dani. I don’t have first hand experience with TCKs, but I stumbled upon the topic when in lived in Costa Rica and ended up doing a research paper on the topic. I took a lot of interest in that transition between living in other countries and going “home,” wherever that may be. I have a brother and sister at JBU, and my brother is the ARD at J Alvin. I’m sure either one of them would be happy to meet up with the BFA student, as would Brandon and I. We will also be praying for them this fall!