Nayel Khan. Photography by Milica Novicic.
By Alexandra Paucescu.
Algeria, Pakistan, Hungary, UK, Saudi Arabia and Serbia… no, they are not travel destinations for a passionate globetrotter, but countries where Nayel Khan lived so far… and mind that he is only 18!
That’s the story of many diplomatic children, traveling the world together with their parents, being born far away from their mother land and learning from their first steps, also to adapt and be resilient, always ready to embrace the novelty of a new place they will call ‘home’ for a while.
‘Life as a diplomatic kid isn’t always great’ he confesses, but then he adds: ‘in no ways do I mean to say I’m not grateful for everything I have experienced, due to my father’s job, but moving every 3-4 years, changing schools, finding new friends, adjusting to life in not just another city, but another country, isn’t the easiest and it takes a toll on almost all of us, who have mothers or fathers working in the Foreign Service.’
He considers himself a TCK (Third Culture Kid), a notion that is becoming more and more popular over the years. ‘With all the moving and experience of new cultures and traditions which I’ve been exposed to so far in my life, I am a mix of all the places I’ve lived in. While the constant changing of atmosphere is difficult, the chance to move and meet new cultures and people is one of the greatest upsides. I can easily travel to any of the world’s finest destinations and know that I will have a friend there to meet. And I really like to travel… I have visited 38 countries already and hope the numbers will grow over the next years’.
He tells me that moving has also given him a much more global understanding and a different and more mature point of view on many important issues. And maybe this is also how his biggest interest in MUN started. Model United Nations is a simulated conference, where students are given countries to represent and debate in different UN committees to slice the world’s problems and draft up resolutions, just as the UN does in real life. I smiled when I heard about it, as my husband, career diplomat, was one of the first students to take part in such a program, in New York, many years ago.
Nayel tells me passionately: ‘I attended 11 MUNs in total, out of which I led two myself. BISMUN was something that I wanted to start when I moved to Belgrade, so, with the help of my school, I set up the first High school MUN in all of the Balkans and just recently, last month, we held our second annual session.’
You can easily sense the pride and joy in his words. I am amazed and wonderfully pleased to discover a young man, at the beginning of his adult life, being so focused and mature, already involved in many projects and having a clear picture of what he wants to do with his life.
‘Contrary to what other diplomatic children wish for, a more ‘settled adult life’, I would actually like to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a diplomat as well. Although it’s taken a toll, I wouldn’t trade this life for anything and I wish to continue it for my own career.’
Of course, he has big shoes to fill in and his parents, as his declared role models, showed him the way. But from what I’ve seen so far, I would say diplomacy might have a bright future!
About the author:
Alexandra Paucescu- Romanian, Management graduate with a Master in Business, studied Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations.
She speaks Romanian, English, French, German and Italian. Turned diplomatic spouse by the age of 30, she published a book about diplomatic life, writes articles and also gives lectures on intercultural communication.