By Nur Hani Laily Ramli.
The day that I came to know that Kenya is going to be my county of residence for the next foreseeable future, a plethora of feelings hit me: pleased and terrified. Pleased, since living overseas is in my bucket list but at the same time I am terrified due to the fact that things will change as I will be dragged away from my comfort zone I called home. Am I strong enough to leave my family behind? Believe me, this question lingered around long enough without any realized answer.
The reality remains, leaving my baggage behind is the sacrifice I need to take as I take this leap of faith.
Fast forward to almost three years of living in Kenya, surprisingly, I came to realize that this momentous change brought with it a new perspective on life and along with it comes a valuable lesson.
The biggest benefactor in this social endeavor I put myself in, is my family. I was raised in a family steeped in traditional eastern values: no shoes in the house, eat with your bare hands, daily diet of chili sauce and thick chili paste, among others. My current reality permits my children to be raised in a global setting, where cultural appreciation is celebrated monthly, be it at school, in the community we live in, and at the various diplomatic gatherings they are invited to.
Little did I know, the global setting my children are exposed to, cultivate their own cultural identity. Surprisingly, these early exposures for cultural appreciation create a conducive environment or my children to be acclimated to our own customs and traditional practices.
My biggest baggage I left home is my career. I was a trained educator, with the freedom to set my own curriculum in my class, was also responsible to lead a team of fellow educators with the task to make education fun for eager learners. That all changed when I was told I would be a travelling spouse for the next foreseeable future. But as an educator, I stick with the mantra that all educators were trained to repeat, “education never really stops, it evolves”. My present reality could not be more relevant to my training. If before I was trained to educate others, now it is my turn to educate myself. Un-learning what you knew, and re-learn new skills indeed filled my time as a travelling spouse.
Truly, as a travelling spouse leaving your baggages behind is a norm, and acquiring new set of skills is a must. But one aspect that must never be left behind and holding on to for as long as possible is one’s identity. Be proud of your traditional heritage, be noble in projecting your national image, and forever be humbled in the world of diplomacy.
Cheers to all travelling spouses!