Rebooting at Ambrose
Created by on 6/25/2016 5:58:21 PM

Growing up overseas provides a rich cross-cultural experience for children whose parents serve as missionaries or other international workers. Often overlooked, however, are the social identity and other life challenges that missionary (MK) and other third culture kids can encounter when the time comes to transition back into Canadian life and culture after spending most of their childhood abroad.

What’s a double-double?

Imagine that you have no idea what a double-double is. How come you don’t know this? Well, it could be because you grew up somewhere far away from Canada. Malawi, the Ukraine, Japan—take your pick.

Now imagine moving here as a young adult who is just about to enter university or apply for a job. Next, add to your move the wrinkle that you are Canadian by birth, so it looks to everyone around you like Canada has always been your home.

Hidden immigrants

That’s the challenge that many missionary kids (MKs) face when they move back from the countries where their parents have been serving: They are hidden immigrants, and like immigrants they face experiences of culture-shock and questions about their identity as they try to fit into a community where they don’t yet feel belonging.

The role of ReBoot

This is where ReBoot comes in: It’s an annual retreat run in partnership between the Canadian MK Network and Ambrose University’s Jaffray Centre for Global Initiatives. By getting together with other MKs and talking openly about the challenges that come with beginning adult life in Canada, MKs discover a safe place to learn and to share their life stories. “We want MKs to be refreshed through worship and peer relationships in order to re-enter and navigate the transition to Canadian life and culture with God's grace,” says Cyndy Ingram, Director for ReBoot Calgary.

3 challenges

Cyndy explains the challenges that ReBoot helps MKs address:

  1. Canadian culture: MKs get a crash course in what it means to be Canadian. There’s an Amazing Race style challenge in downtown Calgary (getting used to transit), finding out how to open a bank account, getting a job application, pricing out a meal in a grocery store, visiting a local church to talk about faith and spirituality in Canada, going to Banff for a day, hiking in Johnston Canyon, tasting Beaver Tails. The list goes on.
  2. Identity: MKs get to explore what it means to be themselves. What's unique to people who grow up between two different cultures? How do MKs answer when someone asks where they’re from, how can they retain their MK-ness and still find acceptance and belonging in Canada?
  3. Transition: MKs receive affirmation that their feelings of grief and loss are a natural response to the transitions that occur with an international move. Teaching and space to process help to normalize these feelings and offer hope that everyone can move forward in healthy ways.

ReBoot Calgary

“ReBoot Calgary was held at Ambrose from August 7-14,” Cyndy shares, “We had a very full schedule, with daily teaching sessions, outings, small group sessions, free time, group activities, and late night dorm debriefs. We were all exhausted by the end, but it was hugely satisfying to see how God worked during the week.”

Many MKs came to ReBoot with a sense of hesitancy, not sure what to expect, but by the end of the week, strong relationships had been forged, built on love, acceptance, and common life experiences.

6 reasons why participants loved it

  1. “For me, one of the best things about ReBoot was being able to connect with MKs who had been through similar experiences to mine and understanding both the amazing and challenging parts of being an MK.”
  2. “ReBoot is a week-long event that gives you pointers on how to best adjust to Canada. What I liked about it was that we were able to share our stories with other MKs and see that we are not ‘out of normal’.”
  3. “I loved meeting other MKs like me and being able to create relationships with each one.”
  4. “It was a great time to bond with people just like us. At first, I was cynical, but the group got closer together and it was fantastic. The seminars also helped with the transition of moving to a different country.”
  5. “The best part of ReBoot was the people. I loved getting to know other MKs who were so similar to me. I felt like I could be so free and not hide my weirdness :-)”
  6. “I loved it, it was amazing. I wish it was longer. Thank you for this amazing experience!

Learn more about reboot
Explore more Jaffray Centre initiatives

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