“How did growing up internationally influence your choice of college and career?”
“How did you build networks and relationships to help you thrive in college and in later life?
“What was it like for you coming back to the US for college when you had grown up overseas?”
These were some of the questions directed at the panel of young professionals who grew up as “Third Culture Kids”, the highlight of a recent workshop for IMF and WB teens. The workshop, hosted by IMFFA and the World Bank Family Network and developed and run by Sea Change Mentoring, was held at the World Bank on Saturday, September 24th.
The half-day workshop was designed not only to educate the students and give them opportunities to reflect on their own backgrounds, but also to give them a space to meet other people just like them. One of the students shared that, “being around such a diverse group of people was completely amazing!” The students discovered that most of them had moved internationally more than once in their lifetimes. For those that had never moved, they were still affected by being part of such a mobile community and having regularly to say goodbye to dear friends. Ellen Mahoney, CEO of Sea Change Mentoring, who led the activities and discussions and arranged the panel, explained that millions of people just like them live all around the world. The group learned that there are many benefits, and some challenges as well, to growing up in a culture different from that of your parents.
Over the course of the morning, local 10th through 12th graders participated in interactive activities and discussions that allowed them to reflect on their identities and how their experiences have shaped who they are. They used this reflection as a jumping off point to think about what colleges and universities would be a good fit for them. One student said, [the activities] got me thinking more about college and what things are important for me.” Another noted that the discussions “helped [him] identify what factors to look for in a college and how to find a mentor.”
A key component of the workshop was an activity designed to help students understand what they could do to make sure they thrive in college and beyond, and how to identify mentors and other allies. Ms. Mahoney quoted a research study of 60,000 college graduates in the US which found that college experience and positive mentoring relationships were a good predictor for satisfaction in later relationships, health, community, economic situation, and sense of life purpose.
The concept of seeking out a mentor resonated with the students at the workshop. Many students reported learning what a mentor is for the first time. One student said that she learned “the importance of finding a mentor who can help me through college, [and who can] relate to people like me and make college a better experience.” Another said, “It was interesting to figure out who the mentors are in my life and to contact them and be open and interested in the advice they can provide for me.”
Parents joined their teenage sons and daughters at noon for a lively panel discussion with panel participants recruited by Sea Change Mentoring, including an award winning producer and scriptwriter, the Director of Student Services at American University’s new International Accelerator Program, and an entrepreneur who is developing a mobile app to allow tourists to really engage with locals and enrich their travel experience .The panel spoke about their childhoods around the world, what their college experiences were like, and how their careers had evolved; and shared valuable tips with both students and parents.
Based on the positive feedback received on the event, IMFFA, WBFN and Sea Change Mentoring are in talks to develop more events to help with this critical transition and provide IMF and WB teens with tools to enhance their future success. Watch this space!