Adventure Specialists' Advice

April 20, 2017


As we move into this major time of transition, I want to share some ideas from Interaction International with you. We have students (and teachers) leaving Dalat, 8th graders moving to HS, 4th graders moving to MS, teachers moving into other positions, and just a lot of change in general. I know that we all have a strong desire to help one another through these difficult, and I encourage you to use some of these ideas with your students and colleagues.

Creating Smooth Transitions — RAFT

The late David Pollock, an authority on third culture kids (TCKs), transitions, and internationally mobile families, prepared very helpful transition materials including this tool to help family members leave well.

Imagine building a raft lashing the following four “logs” together before you leave:

  • Reconciliation
  • Affirmation
  • Farewells
  • Think destination

Reconciliation — Any time we face a move from one place to another, it’s easy to deal with tensions in relationships by ignoring them. We think “I won’t see these people again, so why bother trying to work out our differences?” When a person refuses to resolve their interpersonal conflicts, they are ignoring the whole process of closure and are unable to move on and build the rest of their RAFT. They carry with them the mental baggage of unresolved problems. Old discontentment can interfere with starting new relationships. Reconciliation includes both the need to forgive and be forgiven. How that is done depends on many factors, including the culture the people are from, but it is very important to be sure that all has been done to reconcile any broken relationships before leaving.

Affirmation — Acknowledge that each person in a relationship matters. Help TCKs do things like tell favorite teachers or others how they have appreciated them, tell their friends how important their friendship has been, give a note of appreciation to their neighbors for their kindness, reassure their relatives of their love and respect and that they don’t leave them lightly. Part of closure is acknowledging their blessings—both to rejoice in them and properly mourn their passing.

Farewells — Saying goodbye to people, places, pets, and possessions in culturally appropriate ways is important if we don’t want TCKs to have deep regrets later. They need to schedule time for these farewells during the last few days and weeks. Openly acknowledging this time as a true goodbye is important.

Think Destination — Even as goodbyes are being said, TCKs need to be thinking realistically about their destination. Where are they going? What are some positives and negatives they can expect to find once they get there? What are their external support structures and their internal resources for coping with the problems they might find? Who can help them adjust? There is no way they can avoid the chaos and confusion of the transition process. TCKs need to understand that it is normal, and that it will pass if they hang on long enough. They need to keep this in mind: Leaving right is a key to entering right. By preparing their RAFT they can go through proper closure.

For more materials on the transition process, see Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken, published by Intercultural Press (available on Above information revised from Building a RAFT Before a Transition.

Important Dates

  • April 21 - Final Strategic Planning Day (only those on the team)

  • April 24 - King’s Installation (no school, teacher work day 9-3)

    • Combined Staff Meeting, 9:00

  • April 26 - Instrument Drive (3:15-5:00)

  • April 27 - MS Service Learning Day

    • School Dismissed at 12:30

    • Curriculum Work Time 12:30-2:30 (teachers may leave at 2:30)

    • JSB 4:30 (optional)

  • April 28-May 1 - Labor Day (no school)
  • May 2-5 - Teacher Appreciation Week
  • May 2-3 - School Board Meeting
  • May 3-12 - ES and MS MAP testing
  • May 4, 2:00 - Volunteer Appreciation
  • May 9 - Divisional Meeting (awards decisions)

Can I Ask That?

This will be my last note about the Sticky Faith Research that has been so helpful as we’ve considered ways to help our students develop a faith that lasts a lifetime. Two of the main faith-growth ingredients I’ve discussed previously are: 1) the need for students to understand and apply the whole gospel to their lives and 2) for them to have a wide variety of intergenerational relationships that connect them with older mentors as well as the opportunity to mentor peers and younger students. Long-term research has found both of these things to be essential for maturing faith.

The final thing that is important for teen faith formation is providing students a safe place for questions and the opportunity to be honest about their doubts. As the researchers wrote, “Doubt is not toxic to faith; silence is.” When we are not willing to initiate discussions about hard issues, when we are not willing to allow students to process their questions, or when we do not allow for honest dialogue back and forth, we actually hinder the faith formation process for our students. Often it’s easy to feel like we need to give our students a bullet-list of all the right answers, and sometimes what they need first is to be heard.

I’ve had some very hard conversations with students during which I was in great turmoil inside wondering what on earth I needed to say in response to all of their angst. I’ve found that often they already know the right answer, and they just need a place to process their thoughts. I’ve also seen how God has been able to give me His insights and wisdom as I’ve asked Him for help with what to share in response. It’s kind of a vulnerable feeling to have to rely on God this way, but time and time again, I’ve found these hard conversations to be so fruitful.

I hope that this short discussion about faith formation these last few weeks has been an encouragement to you. There is a reason God has brought each of us to Dalat, and there are students here He has planned for each of our lives to touch. Whether or not you teach Bible, I encourage you to ask God for opportunities to be a light to your students!

Susan Allen

HS Teacher, Instructional Coach

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