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!
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
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
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.
Patou (American students who were on holidays in
Dogs say thanks
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
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
I wish all readers and your families all the very best
for the New Year: Health, contentment and peace.
Love and peace,
PS. Sorry for the Sermon but I feel very bad when I see
all this (unnecessary?) suffering.
A candle for you at CDSC
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.
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.
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!”
as a sweet Christmas angel.
Dealing with children and catastrophic events
(Part of an article which can be read on www.shambles.net)
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
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.