SRI LANKA: Heavy Backpacks and Uniforms

SRI LANKA: Heavy Backpacks and Uniforms

Kids are out on holiday for the next two weeks. Funny how it’s Easter Holidays in some places, Spring Break in others, and here it’s the Buddhist New Year. In the end it doesn’t really matter what it is I’m just glad I don’t have to wake up at 6 am to convince my kids to eat something before heading out dragging heavy backpacks and in my son’s case;  an uncomfortable uniform and terrible shoes.

I still can’t believe my 4.5 year old daughter brought home SPELLING homework for the holidays. I’m in shock as to why she would need to do spelling at that age. It pains me, she hates going to school just because it’s all WORK WORK WORK. She does not have fun and she’s not even out of Kindergarten yet.

My kids have been going to a “Cambridge” School for the past year and thankfully my son is ok with it. He likes to learn so accepts the heavy backpack and uncomfortable uniform. I am surprised that he always gets a C in Art and I don’t care that he is in “position 21” of 22 kids in the class. I couldn’t care less.

When there are parent teacher meetings previous to exams, some parents write down notes as to what needs to be studied. I sometimes don’t even go to the meeting and most of the time my son misses one day of testing cause we travel so much. I’m not sure what the teachers think of us.

My daughter’s teacher calls my home complaining that she is “missing so much work”, I have no heart to tell her that I don’t care.

So why do my kids go to school? Why don’t I just homeschool them if I think the school is just suffering?

Because I need those free hours to be with myself, even if I mostly end up doing errands for the house in the end. I need to have those hours to be able to work in silence ( I have to go to the coffee shop or the maid will talk to me while I’m trying to work on the computer). I’m a bit glad when the maid doesn’t come for one reason or another, it means I can come back from school drop off, help my husband get off to the office and I can get back in my pijamas until noon. And yes, of course I feel guilty!

We have decided to stay one more year in Sri Lanka, I hope my daughter doesn’t suffer too much with the “no crafts, no playing” schooling style of this school. I always tell her, you won’t have to go to this school forever, just for a little more. In the next country I will find you a more artistic school, I promise.

For the past few weeks people have been telling me to go to the supermarket on Monday because the rest of the week I won’t be able to get any provisions, cause everything will be closed. They must be exaggerating right? Who knows. We managed to organize an out of the country trip to where it’s also Buddhist New Year but mixed with Carnaval. We are going to Thailand for Songkran, where the kids will probably learn more about life and stuff than in those hot uncomfortable classrooms where they work work work.

In the end, all they really want to do is travel. School is just to give them some kind of routine. I hope the next year will be ok for them.

Orana Velarde

Orana is a Writer, Artist, Mother and Wife; Peruvian Expat currently living in Kyiv, Ukraine with her husband and children. She works as a writer, designer and social media manager for diverse organizations around the world.

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World Voice: Life in President Trump’s First 100 Days

World Voice: Life in President Trump’s First 100 Days

April 29th will mark President Donald Trump’s 100th day in office.

As a foreigner, I have watched the news feeling extremely grateful that I gained American citizenship during the last administration. As a foreigner who looks of ambiguous origin and definitely not of any Caucasian descent, I wonder if I will ever be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As the mother of three children who mostly look African American, I wonder how their lives will be here in their own country. As the mother of one of my children whose last name is Arabic, and who could pass for Arab or Indian, I wonder if she would be red-flagged during travel. As an American citizen, I wonder where we are headed for, and to be honest, I feel like the magnitude of the situation is beyond our spectrum of understanding.

I do not tend to get into politics very often. I do my best to look at the character of the candidate before voting, without paying attention to the party she, or he, belongs to. However, this time the outcome of the presidential race was quite different than what most people expected, and so far President Trump has been in the news so much that even small children know his name, and some have not yet spoken or been too aware of the name ‘Obama’. It’s remarkably impressive.

With President Trump in office, it feels necessary to stay up to date with news of his actions, because one does not know what extreme thing will have happened between one day and the next.

A number of decisions that President Trump has made, ensure that some of us sit at the edge of our seats, or walk around the living room in circles with our hands on our hands, wondering if this is all an episode from the twilight zone.

If I may be honest, I really held, and in a smaller fraction still hold, hope for President Trump to be a great president. Why? Because he is not a politician, and being a politician is not a constitutional requirement to be a US President. When he was elected I thought that here is a person, specifically a white male in America who has money (so he won’t have to pay as much attention to lobbying influence), who sounds bold enough to make decisions that could cause some serious good change! A person who is a bit eccentric in his own ways, but that is not a bad thing. A person who gained the love of many Americans by showing them love and value. I felt that maybe his rhetoric was more on the side of … wrong, but that he actually will make things right, or improve upon what President Obama’s administration built.

However, with changes on the government’s take on climate change, health, internet privacy , immigration, travel from certain countries; but really the reasons behind the Travel Ban,  separating the United States from Mexico, despite environmental issues that will arise (not discussing separation or blocking of people from entering the country), issues to do with Natives/First Nations and the bit of land over which they have sovereignty, I am no longer an idealist about what is going to happen.

(One can see a list of things President Trump has worked on as of January 30, 2017, by clicking here).

I wonder about the relationship between Americans of various ethnic backgrounds now that we are under this new presidency.

I personally know two people (one a child) who was insulted based on race, the day after President Trump was named president-elect.

I wonder how much the choices, that President Trump is making will impact American soil and the planet at large.

Planet Earth will always take care of herself, but I feel in her doing so, we may not fare that well.

So now, 27 days away from President Trump’s first 100 days, all I can think to do is pray. Sincerely pray for him every single day. I admit it sounds cliche, but I think it can only be so if it is not meant. I do not intend to hold prayer meetings for him, or ardently and with much effort be in prayer for him. I just mean, that every single day, I want to suggest to this amazing universe to put the thought in President Trump’s heart to make the right decision. Maybe it sounds like I care more about this president than others, but I really don’t. I do care about how they all make decisions. I just feel that as being one of the major players in how the world works, it is imperative that we all make a daily, prayerful suggestion that President Trump make the right decisions.

Have you faced similar feelings about the new president in your country?

Do you have any fears or concerns with regards to President Trump’s actions thus far?

Do you feel he can do a great job in leading this country and as a global team player?

Photo Credit: Flickr

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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NETHERLANDS: Just Breathe

Living in The Netherlands has been an eye opening experience for me. Not only does our family get to enjoy the beautiful flowers, rich history, and charming small towns throughout this small country, but we are getting to experience the Dutch lifestyle first-hand.

There are so many great things to mention about the Dutch way of life, but one has especially stood out to me in particular as a mother to two young children. Most of the Dutch mothers I have met are just not as stressed out as so many of my friends feel in the United Sates.

The children here in The Netherlands still have school, sports, after school activities just like the children do in the US, but the mothers of these children don’t seem to have a permanent tension line in between their eyebrows like I often felt like I had in the US.

I have thought about why this is the case here and not with so many stressed out mothers in the US. I am not an expert, but I have observed a few things here, which seem to be key in creating a less stressed out mother. One aspect of life here that I have noticed is the way that being outside and getting exercise is a way of life here. Not only do the Dutch people ride bikes most places, but also the children here are encouraged to go outside and play…without constant supervision of parents. I feel less stressed about wondering if I am exercising enough because I am biking most days, and I am embracing the Dutch philosophy of not helicopter parenting my children all the time. I let my 11-year son walk to the toy store near my friend’s house with his two other friends (about a mile walk there), which I would never have done in the US. I would have been worried that something would happen and he would be unsafe. But here, I know there is a risk of something happening if I let him go with his friends without an adult, but somehow, I find myself relaxing and trusting my son just a bit more that he has listened to things I have taught him about staying safe with his friends. At school, the children here have an outdoor classroom where they are learning to garden and plant seeds to harvest in the fall from their school garden. They literally have time to stop and smell the roses! They also only go to school for half a day on Wednesdays in the elementary school which builds in more time for unstructured playtime (outside) with friends. This in turn leads to my children being happy that they have this time for themselves. Being outdoors more and not always hovering over my children, and more free time for my children has also let me shed a few more layers of stress I had felt before we moved here.

One of the things I noticed immediately here is that school is important, but it is not such a pressure cooker of tests and performance grades. I wrote a post a few months ago talking about the difference in testing between The Netherlands and the US. It is a huge difference in the stress level not only of the children, but also in their parents. If one of my Dutch friends’ children comes home and says he or she didn’t do so well on an assignment at school, my friends don’t immediately rush to check their email to see what grade their child got and then look at their average for the class to make sure they are not falling behind depending on if it is a major or a daily grade. As a matter of fact, the parents here can’t do that at all because there aren’t any grades given at the children’s school here until the equivalent of sixth grade. If there is something a child doesn’t do so well on, the parents talk to their child about it to see what they could do to do better the next time. And, the teachers will go over the material again to make sure the students really understand it. The teachers teach in a way that seems tailored to each child’s needs and there doesn’t seem to be so much comparison between the students about who did better on an assignment. There is not stress about moving on and losing a day of instruction because another topic has to be covered so quickly. The kids really understand what is being taught. And, the teachers here have an open door policy with the parents. We can go in in the morning and see what the children are up to in the classroom and then if we have a question, we can stop by and actually talk to the teacher in the afternoon. That never happened at the school in the US. Once my children are in the school, I could only enter through the main office once I have picked up a badge. And, if I wanted to ask the teacher a question I would only be able to communicate through email.

As a former teacher, those safeguards need to be in place to protect the teachers and the students in the wake of the terrible things we all heard that have happened in US schools. No one here is worried about someone coming into a school to harm children here because it just doesn’t usually happen. As an American entering the school for the first time with my kids, I was immediately alarmed about the doors being open and welcoming all the parents into the building. However, after just a few days, I felt the sense of community and the sense that we truly are welcome in our children’s education. That in itself was when I felt a weight lift away.

Please don’t mistake my praise of the Dutch lifestyle for thinking the US lifestyle is in some way bad. I just know that moms don’t have to be stressed out all the time, and moving here has proven that fact to me. As much as I really do love the US, there are a few things we could learn from The Netherlands. I feel as if I can just breathe here…and if I am lucky enough when I take that deep breath, I may even get to actually look around and smell the beautiful flowers here.

This is an original post for World Moms Network written by Meredith. You can read more about her life as an expat in Nigeria and transition back to the US on her blog We Found Happiness and her current life as an expat living in the Netherlands on her blog Getting On The bicycle .

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Meredith (USA)

Meredith finds it difficult to tell anyone where she is from exactly! She grew up in several states, but mainly Illinois. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana which is also where she met her husband. She taught kindergarten for seven years before she adopted her son from Guatemala and then gave birth to her daughter two years leter. She moved to Lagos, Nigeria with her husband and two children in July 2009 for her husband's work. She and her family moved back to the U.S.this summer(August 2012) and are adjusting to life back in the U.S. You can read more about her life in Lagos and her adjustment to being back on her blog: We Found Happiness.

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