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Adapting for Special Needs Overseas - Call for Essays

It's here! Our first book of essays edited by our volunteer team and contributed by writers all
 over the world!

The Road Less Traveled

May 2016

The Lacquer Boxes of Fedoskino

By Hayley Alexander

Most visitors to Russia - and even those who have never been there - are familiar with at least two traditional Russian handcrafted items. The first and most widely recognized are the stacking wooden matrushka dolls. The second are the lacquered papier-mâché boxes.

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[”The Morning of the Streltsy Execution,” lacquer plaque detail with mother of pearl. Original oil by Vasily Surikov, Tretyakov Gallery Moscow]

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January 2016

Living in Japan: Personal Impressions

by Wendy Jones Nakanishi

imageI feel I know Japan and the Japanese well. I am the beneficiary of circumstances that have made that knowledge possible. I have lived here for over thirty years: not in some anonymous city but in a rural area where local families trace back their history for centuries, and customs have remained largely unchanged in the space of living memory. I am married to a Japanese farmer and have three biracial sons, and we inhabit a neighborhood that is like an extended enclave of my husband’s family.

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May 2015

In Full Bloom

by Victoria Hess

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This story is about tampons.

You still there?

Really, it is about tampons and toilet paper, and me being a “virgin expat” moving to my first foreign country. My husband’s employer thought little enough of the local economy that it paid for us to ship a massive amount of consumables, so we wouldn’t run out of things that we needed during our two-year tour.  I was 30 and newly wed, and I was supposed to figure out how much toilet paper, tampons, soap, sugar, oil, cereal, and other critical items we would use while we lived in a war-ravaged country at the ends of the Earth.

Iraq. 1988. Between the wars.

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April 2015

Can and Can’t in Casablanca

by Nicolas Ridley

imageMid-evening in a neighbourhood bistro in the sixième. Elizabeth has been listening to me politely but she is puzzled. Although — en principe — she is a firm anglophile, changing her name from ‘Elisabeth’ to ‘Elizabeth’ at an early age, she sometimes finds the English themselves a little odd. The purpose of my present journey, for example, mystifies her completely.

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December 2014

Farewell to Purgatorial Eden

by Kirsten Bauman

image Today is Friday.  I’m moving soon and my growing to-do list is daunting.  First, I have to cash a check at the bank so I can pay my household staff. There’s my indispensable nanny, the housekeeper-cook who also does the grocery shopping, the gardener who doubles as a security guard and driveway gate opener, and the driver whose sole job it is to pick my two toddlers up from their preschool every afternoon. 

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August 2014

Night Dude and the Second Society Take on the Forces of Chaos Following Revolution

by Tamar Donovan

As soon as we moved into our new home in Cairo, we learned that a fact of life in the city was the presence in apartment and office buildings of a class of worker known as bowabs, or porters.

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April 2014

The Accidental American

By Catherine Tondelli

image The year was 2001, and I had come to London one year earlier for two reasons. One was because I was offered a dream job working as the business development director for a global architectural firm designing five-star hotels in some of the most spectacular locations in the world – Tahiti, Seychelles, Dubai, Fiji, and the Maldives.

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December 2013

The £400 Fruitcake and Other Lessons on Fitting In

By Jennifer Richardson

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Looking back, I pinpoint the end of my love affair with London to this moment: I was paying for a pint of milk at our dingy local convenience store—optimistically referred to as the corner shop—when, in midflow of taking my money, the shopkeeper vigorously spat on the floor.

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December 2013

Ajvar

By Regina Landor

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Mounds of red peppers are suddenly on display everywhere we go in our neighborhood in Belgrade:  in the market, on the side of the road, and in the trunks of people’s cars.  Sweet red peppers abound in this region, and it is a tradition – a very, very longstanding one – to roast the peppers in the fall and make ajvar, a sweet red pepper relish.  Lots and lots of ajvar is made.  People make jars of it to store for the winter months, in order to have some all year.  As we drive through the winding roads of Koshutniak Park behind our home, we even see people roasting the peppers over an open grill, a large pile of peppers next to them.

I am invited to an ajvar- making day at the home of my new friend, Indira, a Bosnian woman who is married to an American diplomat. 

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October 2010

Boy on the Bus: Crossing Paths with the Roma

By Regina Landor

I am riding on the bus in Belgrade on a gray, cold afternoon when I see out of the window a small boy and his pregnant mother walking toward the bus. They are Gypsies, or Roma. I watch the little boy get on, but his mother seems to have disappeared. He’s holding a stocking hat, rocking slightly from foot to foot as he stands in front of each passenger, hoping for money.

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March 2009

Skiing with the Serbs

By Amanda Fernandez

We took the road towards Pale, into the heart of Bosnia’s Republika Serbska, twisting through mountains which had once been a favorite hideout for teams of the Yugoslav National Army artillery and snipers. Most of the mines had been cleared, but inclement weather would carry some down to the road every so often, blowing up pedestrians or cars.

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November 2007

Loi Krathong: Festival of Lights, Laughter and Love

By Apple Gidley

We arrived in Bangkok in May towards the end of the dry, hot season and just in time for the monsoons. It is a popular misconception amongst farang (foreigners) that the monsoon season brings months of relentless rain. In reality, we were headed into five months of complete unpredictability.

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October 2007

Learning from Daouda

By Kari Masson

Asalaam malecum,” I said, greeting the man wearing a lab coat as I took off my plastic sandals and entered the building. I had only been in the West African country of Senegal for a few months, but already my cultural eyes were adjusting.

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August 2007

No More Pork Chops: My Ghana Experience

By Magdalena Travis, age 10

In the summer of 2004, my family moved to Accra, Ghana. I was seven years old then. This was the first time in my life I was going to live in Africa. On the one hand, I did not want to say goodbye to my friends in Poland where my family and I had been living - my Dad works for the U.S. State Department and Krakow was our first post. On the other hand, I was curious: what would Africa feel like? My image of Africa was a big sand dune with elephants, giraffes and zebras, covered with plantain trees and coconut palms.

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September 2006

The Bookseller of Dhaka

By Michael Bedford

Rain swept across the patio, flowing almost parallel to the ground. Coconut palms on the perimeter bent severely, whipped in the heavy winds. The South Asian nation of Bangladesh was leaving the season of grisma and entering barsa, the monsoon season.

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June 2005

Sí Soy Vegetariana: Yes, I'm a Vegetarian

By Nichole M. Martinson

“Nicholasa, you’re going to have a hard time in Spain with the food,” one Spaniard told me.

“Why are you going to Spain? You know they eat nothing but meat,” an American friend inquired.

“You’ll at least try the jamon, right?”

?!?Ham?!?

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July 2000

American Junk Food Addict Visits Vienna

By Sara S. Rhodes

David was arriving! We had been looking forward to his visit for six months. We couldn’t wait to show him the sights of Vienna. After all, he was my 11-year-old son’s best friend from the United States.

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June 2000

Najmeh

By Maria Bauer

Bebachshit, dashui kojast? (Excuse me, where is the washroom?)

Dar Anjoman Irano-Emrika’st. (It is in the Iran-American Society.)

We, a small group of Foreign Service Officers’ wives recently arrived in Tehran, were dutifully repeating the sentences of the Persian lessons which the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute had devised. That we were not bored to tears was entirely due to Najmeh Ashgar, our teacher, who held our complete attention.

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May 2000

Looking For A Living God

By Amanda Holmes

Those colorful gingerbread domes will take your breath away. But Saint Basil’s Cathedral on the inside seemed less a destination than a series of vestibules. There was a labyrinth of interconnected chapels, mostly under scaffolding. God was either lost, or too difficult to find. So I left. I saw the dead god first.

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April 2000

Perfectly Good Stuff

By Chris Ward

In Japan, no one has any room to store much of anything, and when you get something new you have to get rid of something old to make room for the something new. When you get rid of it, if it’s big, you have to call the “sodai gomi” (big garbage) agency to find out what day they can pick up your sodai gomi; then you put it out on the sidewalk and they come and pick it up. End of story, unless you’re a gaijin living in Japan. You drive by and see perfectly good stuff sitting on the sidewalk and say, “Jeez, that’s perfectly good stuff! They’re throwing it away! We could use that! Let’s take it!” This is what happened to someone you know just the other day – we’ll call him Bud.

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