07 June, 2010

Anatomy of transition

Two weeks after I wrote about deciding how to feel about us upcoming transition. I'm thinking about emotions again. I've pulled out a book that helped me at the beginning of the transition into Australia 11 months ago. It quotes Dr David Pollock from Third Culture Kids and identifies five stages of cultural transition:
"1. Involvement - a state in which you feel you belong in a place and society; people know you; you...have meaningful relationships and responsibilities.

2. Leaving - a time when you celebrate, grieve, and say farewells. you withdraw from responsibilities commitments, and relationships. It is a stage marked by a mixture of emotions, such as excitement, anticipation, grief, and guilt.

3. Transition - the period when you first arrive in the new situation. It is best defined in the word chaos - feeling frustrated, confused, purposeless, and ignorant, not knowing people, places, and social skills...

4. Entering - the moment when things begin to come together and make sense again...

5. Reengagement - the point when the person feels secure and involved again, accepted and belonging....

All of this takes at least one year." ("Burn-up or Splash Down", by Marion Knell, p11-12)
We are definitely in stage 2 and have been for a while. The tricky thing is that we were not in stage 5 for long after our last transition, and in some ways we never made it there at all. So in essence we've been going through cultural transition for at least 18 months now (started 'leaving' Japan somewhere around Jan 09). Will we be re-engaged by Christmas? I hope so!

At least this time we are going back to a place we mostly know (living in a different city, but not too far from where we were before), a job and school we know. Even potentially a church we know. We already have friends there. That is a huge plus! We have older boys too. Last time we went back with a 3 month old! I'm optimistic.


KarenKTeachCamb said...

Hang in there Wendy! I hope you get back to stage 5 by Christmas too!

I wonder if anyone has done any research on the impact of shorter terms and then shorter home assignments and the effectiveness vs. disruptiveness of this.

I'm enjoying being in Australia, but I very much feel that Cambodia is "home" at the moment. I'm really just a visitor here!

Wendy said...

Maybe some research has been done, I'm not sure. But it certainly is a trend. One we're not itching to be a part of, however. I think it can only increase the amount of transition and stress people would be under.