Been There, Done That
Updated: Jan 6, 2020
One of the many things that draws Bennett International consultants to the work we do is our shared experiences. Our consultants typically have extensive experience in the classroom or as admissions officers; in addition, and almost as importantly, many have lived outside their home country, either as a child or as a parent, as part of a family on assignment.
Our consultants have been there, done that.
One consultant tells the story of moving overseas with four young children and living in a less than ideal situation.
“It was supposed to be a three-year relocation that lasted three months! The home we had found on our house hunting trip was not ready to move into when we arrived so we lived in a hotel for three months. My 3 boys went to a nearby international school (grades K, 3, and 5) and my daughter (3 years old) went to a local nursery school (coming home each day with an adorable accent, throwing things in the "bin,” wearing a uniform, and staying at school for a longer day than my son who was in kindergarten at the international school. We chose our hotel for its close proximity to the boys’ schools, thinking we would just be there for a couple of weeks before moving into our home. It was not an ideal location for such a long term stay. After three months my husband was offered a new position in NY and so we returned. In the end, it was a great experience for our family and we always wonder if we should have stayed longer, knowing, of course, that if we had stuck it out, we would have adapted and enjoyed the experience. The whole ordeal was super stressful and gave me a very good insight into the state of mind of the moms and dads we work with. I often think, ‘This person sounds like she is under an enormous amount of stress …’ When living abroad, I used to say to myself, "I thought I was a nice and happy person. I can't believe I just did or said that!”
Another consultant remembers her time overseas where they discovered her son had Special Needs and would need support.
“We lived overseas from 2002-2008. My son turned 4 the week after we arrived, and we celebrated his birthday by taking a Big Bus Tour around London. He asked if he could celebrate by playing with his friend, Nate. Nate lived in New York City so obviously, all of my efforts at preparing Noah for the move, including reading him every book on castles and knights, had failed! It was a rough start.
Noah attended an International School, a private mainstream school from PreK-3rd grade. The community was supportive; the families were international, and Noah made several close friends.
Nevertheless, in 1st grade, he seemed very uninterested in reading. This was curious to me because Noah had grown up in a literature-rich household and seemed to love being read to at bedtime and really anytime. I approached his first-grade teacher to ask about Noah's progress in school and how I could get him more interested in reading. Maybe she had suggestions for books? Maybe she knew better what genres he preferred? She let me know that the school was not equipped to help him …
We eventually traveled home to New York to have Noah evaluated by an educational psychologist. I learned that there were many reasons why Noah struggled with reading. This was the beginning of a very long journey, which continues with Noah in his junior year at college. Fingers and toes crossed!”
These are just two stories out of countless others from our consultants about their experiences living overseas. Our consultants understand the stress and pressure families feel when they decide to move abroad – they’ve done it themselves! They also understand that the experience of living somewhere new – in a completely different culture, maybe with a different language - can be life-changing for both parents and children.
The empathy that our consultants bring to every consultation is invaluable to the families we work with. We often hear how reassuring it was to work with a consultant who understands all the moving pieces of a big relocation, the most important pieces being the children. If you have the chance to work with a Bennett consultant, ask him or her about living somewhere other than “home.” You will be impressed with their resilience and empathy and you might just start to consider spending some time in a new, unfamiliar place.