Third Culture Kids: Birthplace and Belonging

My Australian husband and I, (an American), met, got married and our two boys were born in Shenyang, China. Then 4 years ago we made the decision to move to Australia. 20140326_101820

We moved when our children were 7 years old and 6 years old. Previous to moving to Australia they had only ever been to Australia on vacations. Home was China.
When we lived in China the children answered the question, “Where are you from?”, by saying, “I was born in China and I am from America and Australia.” Confusing but the best answer we could come up with.
Moving to Australia posed a problem because how could they answer that question in a way that would explain why they had American accents but had never lived in America? None of the answers we came up must have really been all that great because the boys refused to use them. So many times I saw or heard of one of my children confusing someone else’s child by saying they were Chinese.
China 1Other than this our settling process was wonderful. Sometimes we had trouble keeping up with the differences in the Australian schooling system but they were making friends and we were all adjusting.
The children still mentioned wanting to go back to China and missing friends but that was normal and very healthy. We talked through these times as a family. We made a choice not to take the children back to China for at least 2 years to allow us all to settle into our new home.
A few weeks ago we were able to take our entire family back to Shenyang for a week. The boys were able to visit their old school, spend lots of time with friends, see the sites and eat food we had missed for 4 years. Before going we talked about the trip a lot, about what it meant.
We made sure  talk about what they most wanted to see and  to do and what they really missed. Even though some of the answers,(room service?), could have seemed silly we tried to take everything into account and do the best we could to see and do those things that meant a lot to the boys. While in20140326_102525 China we took time to talk with the boys and adjusted the schedule more, where needed, for them.
Before the trip, we as parents  thought that this would be a good chance for the boys to realise that China was not the same as when we left. We had imagined, in short, that this trip would help them to understand that the picture they had in their minds as “China” was something that had changed in the 4 years they had been gone.
Well, we were very wrong. TCKs, (Third Culture Kids), are very resilient and it turns out, adjust well to small changes and that is how they saw the changes to the place where they had been born. A lot of friends were still there and there were new friends. TCKs, it turns out, are also amazingly welcoming to those they accept as one of their own. Yes, some places were gone but the new places were cool and fun. So the last day of the trip there were tears as they realised it was time to get on the air-plane to go, “home”. They were going to miss people and places all over again.
 Darren, (my husband), and I were left wondering if we had actually done the right  thing or not. We talked over the whole process with the boys again but you cannot take away the sadness of missing a place just by talking or hugging.
Thankfully the story has a happy ending though. Somewhere during the very long plane ride from Shenyang to Perth, Australia our boys had time to think it all through. Wh288_16188737851_5952_nen the plane landed in Perth they said, “We are really happy to be back… Perth is home.”
This does not mean that the process is over for us. One of the interesting things to come out of this trip is that we have needed to explain citizenship to the boys again. Questions like: Why aren’t we Chinese, we were born there? Are we 50% American and 50% Australian?
We have had explain that China does not allow citizenship by birthplace but only by descent and that by descent they are 100% American and Australian. We have also had to try and explain that if they were born in another country with different laws they might have been able to add another country to that.
They both still answer the question, “Where are you from?” in different ways. My favourite answer at this point is ,” I was born in China and my mother is American and my father is Australian.”, because you cannot tell a person what their citizenship is, they have to claim it for themselves. This is why we will continue to speak Chinese, h10623_150072367851_6213502_nave scrolls in our home, eat Chinese food and travel with them back to China, because they claim China and that is a good thing.
The trip also brought up some interesting questions for us and our society to answer. One of my close friends mentioned that her country has citizenship laws that state that only the first generation child can be a citizen by descent. The next generation must be born in the passport country or become a child of a country they are born in. What does this mean though for children born to two parents who are citizens by descent and have a child born in a country like China that does not count you as a citizen simply by being born there? Are we ready for those children because I truly believe they are coming. One of my other friends responded to this question by saying that these children would be the test case and that governments would have to deal with it sooner or later. Very true.
I would love to tie this up and say that this is how you help TCKs be happy20140326_103427 and love all the countries that they are from and feel like the country they live in is home but home for a TCK is wherever all the people they love are and all the people they love are spread out all over the world so there is no easy answer. I think we can only keep talking with them and I think accept that your children are not from where you are  from just because you call that country home. Your children will be from wherever they choose to be from and your family will be happiest when you can all accept that.
Are you looking for more information about TCKs? Try one of these links;  TCKID,  Interations, or Denizen.

Nurture Your Inner Adventurer-Becoming an International Teacher

China 1While the majority of people would admit teaching is a challenging job they wouldn’t really look at teachers as adventurist people. Deep inside most of us who teach is the inner adventurer who looks at our class with sparks in our eyes and thinks, “What can we accomplish this year?”

Deep in their heart most teachers nurture a wonderful sense of exploration. We want to take students to new places through books, science and history. We want to join our students on a journey of education and we see each child’s journey as a unique experience. We get an adrenalin kick from seeing students excel in new subjects and reaching children that haven’t been enjoyed school before.

There is more out there though. International teaching, whether it is at an international school or teaching a language like English, is a true adventure. I have eaten everything from delicious homemade pork dumplings to barbecued grasshopper. I have seen the great wall and learned to enjoy Korean food with my 218186_10150163925577852_5413126_nstudents. I have celebrated Mother’s Day by helping students make cards with mother written in as many different languages as you could imagine in one classroom. I have gone to educational conferences in Malaysia, Singapore and Beijing. I could continue with this list until I had no more room to write.

It is not only these experiences that made my time an adventure but also the times when I got lost in a taxi in the middle of nowhere and the times I had to travel to Hong Kong to renew my visa. The time I rode a train overnight to suffer through sub zero temperatures to see the Harbin ice festival for one day, before immediately hopping back on the night train so that I could return in time to teach the next day. I was not at my best teaching my class of five year olds that day!

The cream on top of every one of these experiences, during my time teaching in China, was my colleagues and friends. I could not have survived without them and they made everything that we went through together a great memory that we still laugh over whenever we have the chance to get together.

Should you take some time out for your own adventure and teach in an international context?

Of course! Not only will you experience great things but think of the richness you will be able to bring back to the classroom when you return to your home country. Especially for those who have been teaching for a while, it can bring some much-needed spirit back into your classroom. It can help every teacher understand the growing migrant population better.

From a career perspective, it can improve your resume and give you core skills that all employers are looking for. Think teamwork!

Can you take a family?288_16188737851_5952_n

Yes! The language experience and cultural learning is extremely valuable for everyone but most especially for children whose brains can develop long-term skills in language learning at an early age.

Picture yourself somewhere else… teaching!

What benefits do you feel international teaching has had for you? Add your thoughts to our comments below.

For more information on how we can help you find international teaching opportunities visit

Christa SmithWritten By Christa Smith, China Promotions Manager for Stacey College

Happy Holidays

Thanks to everyone for your support this year. As you can see from the slow down in blog posts things have got very busy with lots of new students. You can download our newsletter 2 to read about the year.

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year.

Aussie Christmas

Free Mandarin iPad Apps for Children – Colours

I love this app. My only complaint with it is there isn’t more of it! It is a new app from a developer that has mostly English language apps. They have promised another 2 categories (animals and numbers), but tell me they will be months away at least.

Fun Chinese

GAMES: There are 6 different games that all help improve the memorization of numbers – audible and written.

(1) Memory – listen and match the cards.

(2) Bubble –  listen and play. Pop the bubbles that correspond to the spoken colour. (My 2 year old loves this one in particular!)

(3) Colour Search – listen and find the colours in the image.

(4) Palette – paint the colour you hear.

(5) Two by Two – connect the same images and hear the word pronounced.

(6) Word bounce – learning characters by hearing and seeing a character and placing it onto it’s corresponding colour.

What I like: 

(1) The games are all fun and provide lots of different ways to learn the same material.

(2) There are no ads and it is not trying to sell you a paid version!


Travel Agent Partnership

Studentunitravel_logoStacey College is pleased to announce that we have entered into a partnership with Student Uni Travel and Backpackers World Travel. This partnership allows us to offer our students a dedicated travel agency to look after all their travel needs.

Whether it is day tours from Perth or seeing more of Australia or the world. Student Uni Travel has offices all over Australia with staff that speak a number of languages. They are here to help you and make your travelling experience exceptional! Stay tuned for some great study tour packages as we work together with our new partners to come up with some exciting offers!

Backpackers world travel_logo

So drop in the local branch at 236 William St, Northbridge and say hi to Carla and the gang.


Official Name: The Federation of Malaysia

Population: 25 Million

Language: Malay (Bahasa Melayu)

Capital: Kuala Lumpur (KL), 1.8 million population.

Population Density: 86.44 people/km2


(1) People Groups: Malay 57%, Chinese and Indians.

(2) Religion: Islam

(3) Plants: Bintagor trees, found only in Sarawak, are believed to contain the properties that could help fight the virus that causes AIDS. Sabah is home to the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia.

(4) Engineering: Petronas Twin Towers in KL are 451.9m tall, with 88 storeys. Penang Bridge at 13.7km, is the longest Asian bridge.

(5) Food: A popular food is Nasi Kandar.

(6) Geography: The Sarawak Chamber in Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak, is the largest cave chamber in the world, easily accommodating a Boeing 747-200.

(7) Manufacturing: Intel Pentium chips are produced in Malaysia.

(8) Shopping: The Central Markets, founded in 1888, are famous for Malaysian products with stalls on the first floor and a food court on the second.

(9) Biodiversity: Malaysia is one of the most biodiversse countries in the world, with several engangered species of elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, tutrtles and orangutans living in the Taman Negara National Park.

(10) Claims to Fame: Formula One Grand Prix Malaysia: was launched in 1999. Is a major tourist attraction.

10 tips to transform workplaces | Naomi Simson’s Blog

Check out Naomi’s latest post with 10 ways employees want to see their businesses improved.

10 tips to transform workplaces | Naomi Simson’s Blog.

Failure: the motivation for success

‘I should have been a great many things.’ Jo March, Little Women

Before I started working on Stacey College I spent a year losing on the stock market. I have never been so bad at something in my life! Actually I’ve been blessed with reasonable talent at most things I’ve had a go at. I did well at school, well enough at sport, played a few musical instruments, and dabbled in art and photography. When you look at successful entrepreneurs one thing that stands out is their determination to succeed. I can’t say I’ve ever really had this in a positive sense. I have felt an overpowering desire not to fail (that is really what drove my academic success at school). But a determination, a confidence in my own ability to learn, work out solutions, and persevere has been a long time coming. I believe it was born out of failure.

The year I spent ‘learning’ the stock market was frustrating and perplexing. Once a week I would meet with my mentor. He would invariably ask, ‘Have you made a million yet?’ and I would answer with my tales of woe. That year I was faced with continual failure and the option to quit at any time. My biggest battle was facing the voice in my head that kept telling me I was wasting my time, looking foolish, and would never be able to succeed. It was an emotional roller coaster! My mentor taught me about trading, but really set about giving me the tools to become an entrepreneur. I finished the year with a whole new set of skills and the determination to persist and succeed.

When the opportunity to start Stacey College presented itself I felt ready to jump in. I knew that I had stared failure in the face and pulled through. I knew that I had some skills, but more importantly I knew how to learn what I needed to know. The journey so far has been really fun. It’s only been 7 months since the idea was born. We have yet to get a building or any students, but I feel a quiet confidence, that if you check back in with us in 2 years time you will be amazed at what you find.