HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Letter from Benedict, 12 years old from Bangkok

Students make it through ok

Dogs say thanks

A candle for you at CDSC

Dealing with children and catastrophic events

Letter from Benedict, 12 years old from Bangkok

Every year during Christmas and New Year people are always going out to parties, eating cake and drinking hot chocolate. But at my house we do something totally different. We clean!

My mom always says that it’s good to start the New Year with a clean house, because that way the house will be clean all year and we will get new riches to fill up the open space. So on the last day of the year we spend the whole day cleaning. We throw out the old things that we do not need anymore, dust the cupboards, wash the dishes, scrub the floors, and make the beds. It’s always amazing how many old and unnecessary things we have lying around. In the evening when everything is clean we go to have a nice dinner and the following morning we go to church. This is a tradition in my house and I enjoy it because it is something that our whole family does together, including my brother and grandparents, and we also have a very tidy house the following day.

Maybe its true that our house will stay clean all year round, but I know that every year, on the last day of the year there is always something to clean up, but at least I get to spend the time with my family and make it a useful day. I think everybody should clean their houses on the last day of the year. That way, everybody can start the New Year clean and fresh and get ready to do new things and meet new people.

The preceding was a winning entry in the Chiangmai Mail “What did you do on your holiday” contest.

Students make it through ok

Hello Everyone,

I just wanted to write to let you know that Nick, my 16 year old brother who attends Lanna International School, and I are doing fine. We were lucky to be sleeping on the second floor of our beach side home when the tsunami hit. We heard screams and then looked off the balcony. The scene that unfolded was one out of an apocalyptic movie. Cars were being thrown down the road with people running for their lives in front of them. In an instant I had Nick and we were on the roof, getting as high as we could get. The fear was that the aftershocks from the massive earthquake would send even larger earthquakes. So when the water receded somewhat, Nick and I grabbed water and passports and headed for the mountain. The scene on the streets was of utter devastation. I did not stop to look, and am glad I didn’t. Supposedly it was horrific as the wave hit when people were just starting to populate the beach. We can only thank god that it hit in the morning and not during the peak of the day when the beach is full. Anyways, I am ok, my bother is ok, my uncle is ok, and my Thai host family is as well.

Please send your prayers for the people who lost loved ones, are separated from their loved ones, are lost at sea, and the shop owners who lost everything.

Best Wishes,

Patou (American students who were on holidays in Phuket)

Dogs say thanks

Dear Friends,

This year has passed by in a whizz. The best thing that happened was that Maggi joined the family (see attached photo). She has bloomed from a starving, dying dog destined for the meat market into this lovely young thing and she helps us a lot in collecting money for our dog project.

I want to thank you all for supporting our project. Through your help we have been able to find good homes for some of our dogs. A very sincere thank you! The end of this year has brought us all closer together in Asia by the common disaster we have all shared. It makes us realize that in the eyes of Nature we are not “Indians” or “Thais” etc. but just all living creatures on this planet.

What distinguishes us from animals is greed. We are partly responsible for what happened because greedy for money - we have built hotels, resorts, spas etc. right up to the waterfront. This has destroyed our natural protection from the sea: miles and miles of empty beaches. Of course, there was also no warning system in place because tsunamis are very seldom in the Indian Ocean and the Andaman sea.

Perhaps now in the age of the Internet they will build one. I think this last deadly chord of the year should give us a lot to reflect about.

I wish all readers and your families all the very best for the New Year: Health, contentment and peace.

Love and peace,

Roshan Dhunjiboy

PS. Sorry for the Sermon but I feel very bad when I see all this (unnecessary?) suffering.

A candle for you at CDSC

Dominique Leutwiler

This year’s Christmas celebration at the Christian German School Chiangmai (CDSC) was greatly enjoyed by students, parents, family and friends. Under the slogan of “Fear Not” the event included an attractive performance and a beautiful message.

Everyone joined in, from kindergarten to grade 10.

It began with a bazaar where different items like cookies, candles, tea, waffles and other home-made products were sold. The children had been baking and preparing for days and everything was quickly sold out. The moneys earned were donated to a local organization working with hill tribe peoples.

The choir of angels.

For the Christmas play, the audience was seated in the atrium while the play was unfolding in the middle, around and even above the spectators. It was well organized by elementary teachers Mirjam Schmid, Damaris Maiwald, Barbara Kindler and Damaris Stucki. Amazingly they managed to fill one hour of entertainment with musical and theatrical performances in which the students from grade one to ten were all playing together. During the play, candles were handed out to the audience and the flame was passed from one to another.

Visitors were very pleased with an evening that showed that children of all ages can sing and play together and send out the message that there is a candle for each one of us to light - “A light to brighten our lives when darkness surrounds us!”

The cookie bazaar.

Dasey, as a sweet Christmas angel.

Dealing with children and catastrophic events

(Part of an article which can be read on

Jadis Blurton, PhD

When something as enormous as the recent tsunami occurs, it is difficult for any of us to comprehend its magnitude. As adults, we question and discuss and process the events, each in our own way but in somewhat similar progression, until we can face life again with some semblance of understanding and trust in the future. But we often forget the fact that children may face these things in a somewhat different progression.

We are often unsure how to address these issues with kids – or even whether to address them at all. How much do we answer? How can we help our kids to trust their own future and look forward with hope? How do we minimize the effects of a catastrophe so huge?

Some general tips

As is always the case, the first thing to be sure of - is you. One of the primary findings about kids after a trauma is that they are very much influenced by the moods of their carers. Kids will pick up on your anxiety, anger, depression, bitterness, or insecurity. That doesn’t mean that you should not feel or express these feelings, but it does mean that you must be in control of them. In fact, this is a time when the adults have the opportunity to role-model the fact that one can have feelings without being overwhelmed by them. Children rely on and need the strength and competence of their parents and teachers. For children, the notion that the adults around them have lost their strength and competence can be close to shattering and is extremely anxiety-producing.

Second, remember that what is different about this experience is not that it is just frightening. Children are often frightened: a scary movie, falling from a tree, yelled at by someone big or forget their homework and fear the consequences. What makes this type of trauma different is that it is sudden, unpredictable, uncontrollable and universal. Not only is the child unprepared for the event, nobody around him is prepared for it either. Not only is the child helpless, he or she may perceive that the adults are also helpless. The normal progression of events, the predictability of the world, has been threatened. Thus, it is not the fear itself that is debilitating. It is the existence of these other factors, attached to the fear that may make it more significant than an everyday fearful event.

Third Culture kid issues

Those of us who are old enough remember clearly where we were when we heard that President Kennedy was shot or when the astronauts landed on the moon or when the space shuttle exploded. Certain events are culturally universal and all of our contemporaries share at least a part of a common experience. It is important to note here that expatriate kids who live in Asia have just experienced a major life event that may not be shared by others in their home country. Children in England, America, France or Germany are hearing about these events, but they are occurring in places that are very foreign and psychologically unreachable. This will not be a major life event for them. Our children are watching the beaches in Phuket with the memory of having been there last spring or with the knowledge that classmates were there. The people depicted on their television screens are not dissimilar from the people they see on their streets. For Third Culture kids, this is a major life event.

For this reason, Third Culture kids in Asia have become just a little more separated from their own country’s culture and a little more tied into the culture of expatriate children. They may find themselves amazed (and judgmental) when their cousin or future colleague or previous playmate does not relate to the significance of the tsunami. They will need to learn to be patient and to recognize that their exposure was different and much more powerful.

As is always the case with Third Culture kids, it is helpful to point out that there does exist a culture of international children and that they are very much a part of that culture. They are not alone or isolated in their perceptions, and as they grow older they will continue to meet and connect with other Third Culture kids even when they are back in their own country.