When I dreamed as a preteen of being an international fashion designer, I didn’t think of the implications. I soon learned that though I like design, I hate the hours at a machine for constructing junior prom dresses and such. I tend to prefer quick repurposing projects instead. Though fashion design was a fleeting thought, an international setting became a reality before I even left my small hometown in South Carolina. Both immigrants and social media technology connected me to the globe in a way my immature, naive mind could not imagine.
My Spanish studies were totally necessary, as parts of the town where I lived in my state could not be navigated without the language. Through Hi5, a now defunct social media, I once made friends with a teen named Hendrick from Melbourne who played classical piano, and I dreamed of the day I could meet him face to face. This was a very different teenage experience than that of my parents and grandparents. My grandparents met each other on the bus as school children and fell in love after Pappaw stole Mammaw’s mittens. He left with the US Navy when Mammaw was still in high school, but sent back to ask for her hand in marriage when he found out someone else was courting her. Pappaw eventually became a company man with General Motors and later retired on a pension. My parents have never actually left the United States and therefore have never needed a passport. Living internationally was such a strange thought that one family member asked me, “What about your kids?”
“Children are raised everywhere in the world,” I responded.
As a mom and educator with fingers on the pulse of the changing global economy, I foresee in my children’s lifetime that staying in one country for work for an entire lifetime will become an odd occurrence. Proficiency in two languages is becoming a standard minimum requirement for management positions now; imagine the requirement when current children are old enough to pursue these same positions. Living and learning in another country might no longer be chalked up to adventure for the wander-lusting single, but a smart move to secure healthy financial futures with plenty of opportunity.
But along with this global change comes the challenges of how to balance two, sometimes three, sets of cultures, traditions, families, friends, weddings, births, and “homes.” We asked two families in Split View Worlds on page 46 how they handle this balance. Technology and social medias have wired us to the rest of the world, but perhaps with some consequence considering they all come on screens. Do parents limit screen time and technology with the changing lifestyles, or do they throw caution to the keys (pg 39)? We also wondered how schools utilize technology to connect the international classroom to prepare students for this changing international economy (pg 28). Though human interaction and learning can still occur online, some things cannot be replaced, whether shoes and undies coming in the right size (pg 17) or holiday celebrations. After all, neither Rosh Hashanah sweets (pg 21) nor Halloween crafts (pg 26) can be enjoyed online, not even through virtual reality spaces (pg 25). At least not yet.
PHOTOS: Vanessa Jencks
This article originally appeared on page 2 of the October 2016 Issue of beijingkids magazine. Click here for your free online copy. To find out how you can obtain a hard copy, contact email@example.com.