Times of India and circle of peace: An expat story

Even though this was Martha’s week to cover The Amazing Race, I was once again drawn into the foray of the global dash. When the teams were told to pick up The Times of India when they got to Mumbai, I flashed on my own The Times of India connection. It links to the theme of Aaron’s recent expat post and the question of expats and lifestyle.

The expat question is a complicated issue that I have thought about with every place I’ve lived overseas. One notion, I think, has something to do with intention and motivation for living in a country. We didn’t move to New Delhi, India, for example, with the intention of making India a permanent home. I also think it has to do with economics. Expats, in my mind, have more money and perks, in general, than they do when they live in their own country.

Our expat life in India was due to the teaching jobs that took us there. As expats, we were more immersed in India than if we were just traveling there, but we always knew we would eventually move on, so the experience was not the same as if we thought we’d live there for years and years. What people do with their expat experience, however, has to do with how they view living in another culture. Some people live totally surrounded by other expats, often people from their own country. Others, like us, do what they can to make the country that is not theirs feel like home and to take part in the culture as much as possible. Also, when we lived in India, our jobs offered another unique perspective.

When you work with young people like we did as teachers, one goal is to help them see themselves as part of the world community. Kelly wrote about this somewhat when she visited her friends in China and wrote about it in her series, Chinese Buffet. Often, the view happens to be of a place of privilege, but in international and American schools where kids of many nationalities come together in classrooms there is an opportunity to envision a world where everyone might get along.

There are several times when I taught overseas when this vision was evident, but the most powerful was September 11, 2002. Considering the news from Pakistan this past week, I’m reminded about that day, the hope that was generated by a bunch of middle-schoolers, and an essay I wrote about it.

The essay was published in The Times of India and since I found the link, here it is. I have no idea what happened to the paragraphing when the paper put it on-line, but you’ll get the idea. Consider this a story to carry over to the new year. It’s an expat story that offers up the potential for peace. At least if the kids who made the wooden doves that day remember what it felt like.