Life in PNG for the Z-Kids

Notice the varying footwear in our Missionary Kids! 🙂

There have been many people who have asked us what life has been like for our kids since moving to Papua New Guinea. They ask if they have been adjusting well, what activities they play, whether or not they have made friends and what their school is like…

Some things are very much the same here in PNG for our kids. For example:

  • They go to school just like kids in the US
  • They are involved in music (Ariana- piano and clarinet, Katrielle -piano and Selah- piano)
  • They have a lot of friends
  • Their lives have been impacted by Covid here in PNG as well. The new Delta Variant has put all kinds of restrictions on social gatherings, friendships/play dates, and school

Some big differences include:

  • Shoes are often optional, even at school! Ariana participates in gym class barefoot since her shoes have fallen apart since we first got here. It can take months to get a shipment in, so new shoes are few and far between.
  • School goes year round here. There isn’t a “summer break” but instead multiple short breaks throughout the year.
  • The classes offered depend on how many missionary teachers are available at the school.
  • The kids have many cultures to get used to and to learn to interact with. For instance, in the kids classes there are Americans, Papua New Guineans, Dutch, Germans, Russians, British, Australians, Koreans, Swiss, Ukrainians; and probably even more that I am forgetting to mention. This blending of cultures creates a unique sub-culture that probably doesn’t have an equal anywhere else in the world.
  • Style goes out the window…we wear what we have. The fashion trends change all around the world and we are oblivious because we weren’t there for the shift!

Where do the Z-Kids call home??

We were always told that Missionary Kids have a hard time with this question. Is home the US? Is it Papua New Guinea? MK’s are also referred to as Third Culture Kids (TCKs) because they don’t feel completely at ease in their passport country OR in the country where they are currently living. The culture that is shaping them is so different from the culture back in the US.. They often consider home to be people, places, and memories that elicit the feeling of home.

This is a poem written by Ariana our 13-year-old that perfectly describes how she is feeling about home.

Ariana and Wojtek playing a board game…one of our primary evening pastimes here in PNG, where there are no movie theatres, shopping centers or restaurants

Where I’m From

I’m from cinnamon, citrus and chocolate,

I’m from airplanes and violins.

I’m from “Crash!” and “Oh no!”

From “Easy tiger!” to “I have a space bubble, you know.”

I’m from Hailey and Tati,

Eating apple cider and s’mores.

I’m from Grandma’s special potatoes

And from fishing with Grandpa

I’m from peach pie and play forts.

From yoga ball nine-square

And the old Elmo balloon.

And I’m from Zoe.

From penguin weddings

To A Million Dreams in the Magnolia.

I’m from swinging upside down

And counting the bricks, never without a companion.

I’m from ice skating and laughter.

I’m from the Pledge of Allegiance

Memorized by my sister at age two.

And if you’re from my memories,

Then I’m also from you.

These memories may not be known to you as you read her thoughts, but for Ariana each of these memories makes her feel at home. Even when she struggles to be one of the TCKs who have lived here their whole life, or when her Tok Pisin fails as she is trying to communicate with new PNG friends. Each new and old memory makes up a piece of her (and all the other Z-kids) home.

Legos…the toy that can cross all cultural bridges
Baking with friends
Wrestling Buddies! (Both boys have ONLY sisters…so they NEED each other)

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