Missionary Kids band together to overcome reintegration challenges
“If they are helped to land well, their life experiences become a real strength for them”
KITCHENER, ON—The Canadian Missionary Kids Network is preparing for its second annual retreat to help missionary kids (MKs) effectively reintegrate into Canadian society.
“For kids who grown up in a different part of the world than what their passport says, that is their home, that’s still where their heart resides,” says Paul Dyck, Canadian MK Network national team leader. “When you repatriate, there’s an element of grief [for] what you left behind. All you’ve achieved, your good name, whether you have integrity or not and your reputation—all of that is left behind.”
Dyck, an MK born on the mission field in India, says returning MKs often feel alone, different and wrestle with lost identity. The Canadian MK Network designed its week-long Reboot retreat to help returning MKs, 17 to 20 years old, learn about Canadian society, share their experiences and understand they are not alone. It was so successful last year, the network is hosting two Reboot events this year.
“Kids who have difficult life experiences, if they are helped to land well, those life experiences become assets and a real strength for them,” Dyck says. “We help them understand they’re equipped to do even more things than their Canadian peers, in years to come.”
Gabriel Dubé was one of 10 participants in last year’s Reboot retreat. He found it refreshing to connect with others who had similar experiences and it helped him integrate smoothly, after being away throughout high school.
“Reboot helped me understand the differences between MKs and your average Canadian teenager,” he explains. “MKs usually try to make deep interpersonal relationships quickly, whereas your average Canadian takes a lot more time. Since Reboot, I have noticed this difference many times. It’s something I am still getting used to, but at least I understand it’s mostly due to differences in upbringing.”
This year, the network has planned two retreats in early August: one at Ambrose University College, in Calgary, and one at Emmanuel Bible College, in Kitchener, Ontario. As the events grow, the hope to engage with more mission agencies, inspiring greater unity and collaboration overseas and among missionaries returning to Canada.
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