What is Re-Patriation?

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Repatriation is is the process of returning a person to their place of origin or citizenship. Often it refers to refugees, missionaries or military. We can use it in our case for people who may be returning to live in their “home country” after living here in Bangkok for a while.

Like most things, there are good sides and dark sides to this process.

On one hand, people are excited and happy to return to a place they consider home.  On the other side, they have changed and home has changed. How does that effect this settling in process, especially in children?

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Below is a quote from an online article

http://www.internations.org/magazine/going-back-home-easier-said-than-done-15338

Going back home can be especially tough on expat children, particularly younger kids. Toddlers and pre-school children need routines and stability, and the enormous changes involved in repatriation can easily upset them. Perhaps they have only dim and distant memories of “home”. Places that are familiar to their parents are strange and unfamiliar to them.

Furthermore, children have a different perception of time and they tend to live more in the present moment than adults do. Promises such as “We’ll go back to see your friends in Korea next summer!” may appear like an eternity away to a seven-year-old.

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Like with most major transitions, children work through them best when they have the following factors:

1. Empathy and emotional support from primary caregivers. Be prepared to support a wide range of feelings around the change. One moment the child may be giddy and excited, the next sad and tearful. Whatever they are feeling is OK. Do not try to have them deny their sad feelings. This is a time of change and loss and those feelings should be honored.

2. Establish routines like meal times, bed times, morning routines as soon as possible. If possible, duplicate the routines you had in your previous home.

3.  Familiar comfort items. Sometimes it is impossible to take everything with you when you move. However, it is important for children to be able to take with them some of their very favorite things to see in their new place.

4.  Saying a proper goodbye. Before leaving, say goodbye to teachers, neighbors, friends and special people. Say goodbye to special places like the house, your favorite candy shop, your favorite park. Take photos and make a goodbye book.

5.  Keep in touch. Find a way to keep in contact with friends you are leaving behind. This is so much easier to do with modern technology. Kids love to use skype with their friends in other parts of the world.

6. Make new connections. Maybe moving back home will bring children closer to old friends and family. Make these connections stronger because these will be the best people to support your child. Make new friends. Use your current connections to make new friends and meet new people. Look for groups of others who are repatriating.  The stronger the human support network the better!

Even with these important factors, some children can still struggle. Some children are going to a place called “home”, that maybe they have not have actually spent very much time in.  This type of transition takes a lot of time and patience.  And as always, take care of yourself as the care provider. Healthy and happy parents make healthy and happy kids!

I wish you all the very best if this is your situation. If your child is leaving KIS this term, please let me know ASAP. I have a special goodbye talk and gift that I give departing students!

Please let me know if you would like any more information about this topic. Also, go back to next week’s blog entry and please take the survey 🙂

Living abroad and repatriation has changed so much with modern technology. Check out these articles and helpful websites:

http://blogs.wsj.com/expat/

http://blogs.wsj.com/expat/2015/04/15/repatriation-blues-expats-struggle-with-the-dark-side-of-coming-home/

http://naomihattaway.com/2013/09/i-am-a-triangle-and-other-thoughts-on-repatriation/

I Am a Triangle, Facebook group

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