07 July, 2018

Perspective is Everything

A recent conversation led me to explore Points of View. Only, in reality, not fiction. I think it's a good metaphor for current events and modern views, particularly since we see SO MANY points of view on social media, whether we want to or not.

Here is the example from my life that started this train of thought. To maintain anonymity I will call my siblings and I by numbers, with 1 being the firstborn, etc. I am 4.

The year is 1980-something, and our family is moving from a small town in Iowa to a small city in the mountains of Sri Lanka. At the time of the move, 1 is 16yo - ready for her Junior year of high school. 2 is 14yo - just out of junior high, preparing for high school. 3 is 12yo - in our small town, middle school was grades 5-8, and she was right in the middle of that. 4 just turned 10 - going into 5th grade. 5 is 7 - only headed into 2nd grade of elementary.

Moving overseas. Exactly around the world. The only thing similar from our old home to our new is that both are in the northern hemisphere. (LOL!)

The following POVs are based partly on assumptions, and partly on my observation of behavior.
Probably about 5 years after this.

1 has a somewhat defined world-view. Views can and do change, but she's had many years of 4-seasons, holiday traditions, Lutheran church and catechism class, time to consider what is "normal" food, etc. Her direction in life is not yet determined. The next couple years will solidify that. Her friendships are solid, and were initiated earlier in life, when everyone expected each other to be around for life! What will living in a different country do to friendships?

2 is at a milestone in life. He is going into high school. Everything will change in the coming year, whether he is in the US or overseas. Solid friendships have formed, but his  direction in life is undefined.

3 is in the middle of middle school. At 12 years old, she might predictably hit a rebellious stage within the next year. Strong friendships through grade school and into middle school are going to be ripped apart. Not to mention, as a middle child, she has a bit of an identity crisis going on anyway.

4, according to the school system in the small Iowa town, has been prepped to start at the middle school in the coming year. Big, scary, transition looms on her (my) horizon no matter what location. With a virtually unformed world-view, 4's mind is still quite malleable.

5, at 7yo, is smack-dab in the middle of elementary. His world-view perhaps is more dependent upon what happens among his older siblings. Family life is more dominant than any school social life. (Although, as a student in his same school, I can say he was already a bit of a class clown.) The world is open to him!

I clearly remember that 1 and 2 were not happy about the idea of the move. They made that very clear. 4 & 5 thought it was a great adventure. I think that 3 joined 4 & 5's view, but I can't be sure.

Amateur psychologists, does this sound logical? Again, this is based somewhat on what typically happens at different ages, but my perspective is definitely colored by observing what life was like in my family and upbringing.

That's the POV prior to moving. But that's not even half of it. We still didn't have a clue how this would affect any one of us. Enter: Boarding School. The only international schools in Sri Lanka were in the capital city of Colombo - 4 hours away. An international boarding school in southern India had been selected, but they began their school year at the end of July. We arrived in Sri Lanka at the end of August.

Home school was a temporary solution.
1 and 2 were home-schooled for just one semester. As the oldest, they went away to boarding school in January, after the semester break. Therefore, 1 had a year and a half of boarding school, and 2 was granted almost all of his high school experience in one school.

3 and 4 were to be home-schooled for one year. Although the chosen dormitory accepted students as young as 5th grade, a full-year transition time was the preferred option.  (Preferred by my parents or the school? Who knows.)

5 stayed at home 3 years before going away to school for just one year prior to our first furlough back in the States. He was in 5th grade for his first year away. I believe the prevailing wisdom was that he should at least have the boarding school experience his siblings talked about, since the future is not guaranteed.

Now, if I was going to write a book about a kid transitioning from a western culture to a Third-World Culture (back then, that was the accepted term) I would use 3 as the lead character. 2 and I (4) were at natural milestones. 1 had minimal time overseas before returning to college in the US. From later conversations, I believe 5 felt more impacted after our first furlough in the US, at which point he and I were sent to an American boarding school.

But 3 - She was in the middle of middle school, moved to a different culture; then as a middle child, she was initially treated as a younger child (stayed home for a full year). Later, pulled out of the new school after her sophomore year of high school, when we returned to the US on furlough. She had to have had so much more mental and emotional transition!

I can honestly say, from my POV, 2 and I seem to have had the least bumpy growing-up experience. Mind you, we are also the only two who have selected life outside the US as adults.

This was partly an illuminating exercise for my-own-self, but maybe, if we start considering that people view things from a unique combination of stimuli that created a unique POV, perhaps, maybe, we can be a little more understanding and tolerant and less vitriolic in our responses?


  1. I remember having this conversation with you because it had just hit me for the first time. You and your siblings all moved from Iowa overseas when you were children, but you were at radically different stages developmentally. That completely changes the perspective on not only how each would transition, but also how they remember that time.

    It was very interesting.

    1. And now you get the joy/drama of seeing how different we all are as adults!

  2. That must have been such a transition and learning experience.

    1. It really was. I've never asked 3 about her thoughts, though. I wonder if she's considered writing a book about it?


I enjoy a good debate. Feel free to shake things up. Tell me I'm wrong. Ask me why I have such a weird opinion. ...or, just laugh and tell how this relates to you and your life.