Outpost News First stop: Outpost Brunei Entering the new millennium meant many changes for Outpost Brunei. Under the leadership of Hajah Zainab Binte Ali the team re-evaluated business guidelines and the scope and effectiveness of the services offered. A questionnaire was sent to expat ladies in the Panaga camp at the end of 2001. As a result, we improved our services and moved from the BSP Guesthouse to a house with a large office, kitchen and spacious social areas. We not only provide information on arrival and about future postings, but also a ‘meet and greet’ service, run by 10 ladies from a variety of countries. Break during musical performance by Puan Belai People (photo: Hans Dols) 14 Following this welcome on the day of arrival, every second month a newcomers’ coffee morning is held at Outpost Brunei. The social section of Outpost Brunei also includes The Outpost Brunei team consists of: Heather Carne (British) cookery and arts sections, and welcomes visiting speakers. who is, apart from her various and challenging tasks as MD spouse, our chairlady, and Elisabeth Kirchner (German) Opening times are Monday to Thursday 9.30–11am, and from who is the focal point. Anna Elder (Dutch) looks after the 9am to 9.30am we offer newcomers an interview. On Fridays money and Renata Kang (Malaysian) is our computer expert we hold our monthly meetings and occasional training and secretary. The social section under the coordination sessions on matters such as Sitescape, distance learning, of Tina Bell (British) is split into a cookery section run by etc. The office has information and advice on distance Elisabeth Holyoak (Norwegian) and an arts section run by learning, Spouse Employment and CV updating, plus access Mandy Doughty (British). Hazel Harvey (British) coordinates to information packs on other operating companies. You the ‘meet and greet’ service. Nagashree Ramakumar (Indian) can browse through the growing collection of travel guides coordinates the distance learning section and Sue Kent for the region. We also have internet access and a laundry – (British) is in charge of Spouse Employment and CV updating. both much used by expats after arrival and before departure. Febrina Sarginson (Indonesian) is our PR lady. Alison May The latest addition is the newsletter, published three times (British), Allison Bulseco (Australian) and Eunice Phang a year. This year we are updating our information on Brunei (Malaysian) support the office team. with a CD, and we plan to further strengthen our links with the other Outposts in Borneo by attending regional meetings in Bintulu and Miri. Elisabeth Kirchner and Alison May The highlight of Outpost Brunei’s calendar this year is the 5th Global Outpost Conference, to be held in Brunei Darussalam 6-9 May 2004 at the superb Empire Hotel overlooking the South China Sea. The theme is ‘Connecting Communities’, and the 100-plus delegates from Outpost locations all over the world will take part in a 3-day programme of talks and Outp st workshops. Of course, there will be time out to sample the beauty of Brunei and the culture and hospitality of the local The Outpost Network provides world-wide comprehensive and expatriate communities. As well as keeping our 5-strong and personal briefing services of non-contractual conference-organising team busy, the conference is, of information in preparation for a new posting. course, a great opportunity for Outpost representatives to meet and work together. We are delighted that the invitation Carel van Bylandtlaan 16 of the previous BSP MD, Chris Finlayson, and his wife, to PO Box 162 host this Conference in Brunei Darussalam, was accepted. 2501 AN The Hague This will be the first time the Network has met outside the The Netherlands Netherlands, and we hope this trend will continue. Our Tel.: +31 (0)70 377 6530 thanks go also to Mark and Heather Carne for taking the Fax: +31 (0)70 377 1487 reins to ensure that the Conference will be a success. Outpost@shell.com Interview Are you SmartWired? Dawna Markova is a remarkable woman. As a teacher and learning specialist she is convinced that every child can learn, but not always in the same way, so standardised teaching methods work only for the few. She emphasises the role of parents – the child’s primary educators. Through co-operation between parents, teachers and other people in the child’s life she believes every child can gain the condence to mature. Recently Dawna launched SmartWired, a non prot-making organisation embodying her beliefs, which has inspired Shell and Outpost. Karine Quillien investigated how SmartWired will ground and KQ: How will SmartWired enhance the learning experience of connect expatriate children to the experiences of their global children? lives. DM: For the past 300 years, schools and parents have been 15 KQ: What is the philosophy behind SmartWired? educating from the outside in. We decide what children should learn, how they should learn it, how long it should DM: That you can give children the best by bringing out the take and how to evaluate what has been learned. We dismiss best in them. We have four principles: rather than nurture children’s awareness of what works best • differences are not disorders; for them and is most important to them. We rarely think • assets, not deficits, should be tracked; about how to foster the art of learning from the source • mistakes are not failures; - inside the child. Our children never develop the capacity • learning happens from the inside out as well as the to discern what is right for them. They become adults who outside in. don’t trust their own judgment, and need someone outside to determine the direction their life should take. Parents SmartWired is dedicated to tracking the talents of our begin by helping their child when he or she takes those first children. We create a database of each child’s successes, faltering steps toward their outstretched arms. They wonder modes of attention, interests, resources and ways of when their child will walk, not if; they encourage their child thinking. Through interviews and activities with the child, to risk that reach. Initially, we understand that learning siblings, coaches and others who know what works best involves repeated and different fallings. When do we forget with this child, we provide a record of ‘transportable gifts’ this and assume that ‘falling’ is failing? Children should not to children and their parents. With each move, the family fail. If they do, it is we who have failed them. As parents, takes a record of how to teach and motivate their child most we are the one consistent force in their education. We can effectively, and how to build on what has already worked, engage their natural intelligence by helping to shift the focus instead of starting again. from what is wrong to what is possible. KQ: SmartWired is a unique tool. How will you encourage KQ: The Shell schools play a key role in our children’s parents to make the most of it? education. How does SmartWired complement the new approach of the International Primary Curriculum? DM: Imagine a world in which every child understands what his or her natural talents are and how he or she learns, DM: The Shell schools are committed to something simple thinks, and communicates effectively. If parents can imagine yet quite remarkable - ensuring that everyone involved with this, they can create a world worthy of their children. We a child is aware of how that child learns, needs to be taught are dedicated to helping them. Each SmartWired family and needs to be assessed. SmartWired complements the IPC will receive a parents’ guide to using the SmartReport, a by developing strategies of learning that use and develop children’s magazine and a teacher’s guide to bringing out the children’s gifts and talents. best in their child. The website has chat rooms for children, parents and teachers. We give parents a guide to holding KQ: What is your vision for SmartWired in the future? SmartGroups with other parents to share ideas on helping their children use their talents in difficult situations. DM: That’s quite simple. I imagine every child in the world knowing what their unique gifts and talents are so they can contribute them to the rest of us. “If you want something to really work and you decide to make a new home and become part of a community, you can’t have one foot here and the other on another continent. We live here and pay taxes, therefore we want the opportunity to have a say in the future of Australia” Mike and Christine Smith walked up the steps of Geelong He worked at Shell’s Town Hall with their children Andrea and Timothy, in head office in Cape anticipation of the ceremony for their Australian Citizenship. Town, and later in the Around them were applicants from China, the Philippines, refinery in Durban. Vietnam and other countries, whose faces showed equal He met Christine, excitement. The mayor and councillors of Geelong greeted and they enjoyed the South African family. In her speech, the mayor invited their first expatriate the new citizens to retain their individuality and bring with posting to Boston. them the uniqueness of their original country. The pledge “In Boston we that followed confirmed the desire of the applicants to be realised that there part of a country they had adopted as their own. This was was a different world 16 sealed with a Certificate of Citizenship. outside South Africa, and how small-minded the people in our home town were,” says Christine. That was a year ago. Today, as I planned my own application, I visited Christine to talk about her thoughts on Australian Street violence and crime were becoming more prevalent, citizenship. The Smiths live in a typical Australian home: and Christine and the kids had a frightening experience freestanding, brick veneer, single storey with a large yard. when they witnessed a bank robbery. “We started thinking I noticed a South African wildlife theme featured in every seriously about emigration when we attended a seminar room: even the chessboard had tiger, elephant and zebra in 1997,” continues Christine. “Representatives of Australia pieces. Their home confirmed the mayor’s request to retain talked about living there, the financial aspects, housing, one’s individuality and heritage. schooling and the medical system.” Mike resigned from Shell South Africa, awaiting a job with Shell Australia in We have to look at the Smiths’ past to find out why they Geelong. “Our families were quite upset about us leaving, moved to Australia. Mike was born in Zimbabwe. When but they understood that we wanted to give our children a President Mugabe took over leadership many people left, life without crime or fear,” says Christine. including Mike’s teachers. To continue his education, Mike taught himself chemistry and physics, but courses were The Smith family share a desire with thousands of other limited in Zimbabwe, so he moved to South Africa to study. immigrants for a prosperous future in Australia. Its social security system, quality of life and open spaces, even in the big cities, attract many people. Permanent residents are encouraged to become Australian citizens. Australian Citizenship Day on 17 September emphasises citizenship as the most important unifying force in the community. The campaign has worked, with over 86,000 people from 150 countries taking out citizenship in 2001–02, including the Smith family. “If you want something to really work and you decide to make a new home and become part of a community, you can’t have one foot here and the other on another continent. We live here and pay taxes, therefore we want the opportunity to have a say in the future of Australia,” says Christine. The application procedure is quite simple: complete the paperwork, have an interview with The Department of Multicultural Affairs, state your rights and responsibilities as Australian citizens and undergo a police check. Making a pledge of commitment at the ceremony is the final legal step. After hearing Christine’s story I realised how different her reasons for becoming a citizen were from mine. I am Dutch, married to an Australian, and have lived here for almost ten Diversity… and Inclusiveness How to be an Australian years. Until recently, it wasn’t possible for me to hold dual citizenship without losing my Dutch nationality. Thanks to the amended Netherlands Nationality Act of 1 April 2003, I now can. I feel the importance of being Australian. My children are growing up as Aussies and speak English with a fair dinkum accent. I follow the achievements of the Australian cricket team and can name Mr Howard before the Dutch prime minister. However, I feel a bond with Holland because of my noticeable accent when I speak English, and also because of my much-missed relatives and friends. I have ties with 17 both countries, and I want to stay committed to both. It’s like going from having one child to two, you think you won’t have enough love to go around but you soon find a perfect Jacqueline with her children, Shannen, Lance and Glen, and balance. I am looking forward to the official ceremony that the mayor of Geelong my family will attend. Afterwards the kids can say to me: “Mum, you’re one of us now”. PS On 26 January (Australia Day) Jacqueline Jacqueline McGrath became an Australian citizen. Family Fun Day in Ogunu Camp, Nigeria: a big success Hats off to Shell SPDC General Manager West, Maarten Wink, for promoting diversity and inclusiveness in the Shell camps Ogunu and Edjeba! Last November the camps enjoyed their first the piano. The adults lingered on around the tennis court Family Fun Day. It was high time to build a watching the finalists battle it out for the winners’ cup. The bridge between the communities, and break champions were as diversified as the event planned: first down the barriers of language, religion, culture place went to Wale Olawoyin, Nigerian, and Amalie Morgan, and tradition. Volunteers agreed to spearhead South African. Jane Talbot, English, and Alberto Blasco, the activities, and T-shirts with a ‘Family Day’ Argentine, were the second place champions. logo were given to each participant, to foster a sense of togetherness. The organisers were delighted that the event was such a huge success. Maarten Wink has committed himself to doing The day began with an icebreaker to get people better more to promote diversity and acquainted, followed by sporting events such as softball, inclusiveness in Shell camps, tennis, boules and volleyball. The kids enjoyed competing for and more events to bring prizes in the pool, sack racing, apple bobbing and bowling, the camps closer together and took part in a contest to draw the ‘ideal family’. A bouncy are planned. Family Fun Day castle and a colourful clown entertained the younger children. certainly spurred us towards our goal. The day ended with a children’s talent show: ‘acts’ ranged from singing and dancing to reciting a poem and playing Rhonda Wilson-Dikoko Shell Partners Supporting males: a prodigal lifestyle, the perfect companion, or an allegory of life’s uncertainty? Sitting in the cramped waiting room of Houston’s Shell The New Skirt medical facility with my partner, awaiting a physical before I accompanied my partner to The Hague. After several months journeying to our new host country, I began to complete in our new environment I was becoming restless, and decided the questionnaire handed to me. Appropriately, the first it was time to find work. Searching through Shell’s job postings, name requested was that of the person in the leading role, I found a few of interest, and was hired for a support-staff role. the employee. Following that, a blank line solicited not the On my first day, another male employee greeted me with, “So, name of the person in the supporting role, but a ‘wife’s are you the new skirt?” name’. Humiliating as it was, I proceeded to fill in my name only after I had scratched out the word ‘wife’ and inserted ‘partner’. My mental sensing was immediately provoked. One of the Girls Wife’s name? Why not simply spouse’s or partner’s name? I had been taking my stepson to school and picking him up for 18 Was this a prelude to my new role, or a backdrop to the almost two weeks, and during that time was treated cordially unfolding parody of the male ‘trailing partner’? by the other ‘moms’. In the middle of the third week a small group of mothers approached me and commended me on how While many people view the opportunity to move to a well I helped my stepson get ready for class and find his task different country as merely a sumptuous trip abroad, for the day. They proceeded to invite me to join them for tea challenges such as this can be uncomfortable. However, with that morning. It was very nice to be accepted as ‘one of girls’. men increasingly accompanying their spouses or partners on expatriate assignments, the rewards, obstacles and challenges are evolving, and are often shared by the host Room Mother country and the company. In my son’s classroom for a parent/teacher meeting, the teacher asked the parents if any would like to volunteer as room mom. The following anecdotes chronicle the circumstances of some Being one of the few male parents there, I raised my hand and men living as trailing spouses or partners: asked if she only wanted moms. Another gentleman in the room laughed and commented, ‘Whoa, I guess that gets us off The Kept Husband the hook’. Needless to say, the teacher declared that she would “How nice it must be to be ‘kept’!” someone commented. I be more than happy to accept a dad as ‘room mom’. replied, “ My wife is the kept one. All she has to do is get up and go to work each day, while I get the kids ready for school, wash clothes, clean the house, iron and get dinner ready.” Shell Partners “But what do you do all day?” “What do you do here in Den Haag?” Without hesitation, I answer, “Take care of the household and watch my three- year-old stepson.” After an awkward silence: “what does your wife do?” Being the supporting spouse, I run into the above conversation regularly. Politically correct or not, most people assume that being the male spouse, I am the one working to support the family. Actually, I am one of the few men who have followed their wives on an expat assignment and assumed the role of homemaker. What’s it like, being a male supporting spouse? Basically, I make home life as easy as possible for my wife, so she can concentrate on her job. Armed with a city street guide, a guidebook to shopping in the Netherlands and a strippenkaart*, I set out to master living in the Netherlands. I plan and cook the majority of meals each week and make sure I shop enough times to have fresh food to get us through the weekend, since the stores are closed on Sundays. I have learned how to pick out the food I want and to shove, push and assert myself among the ladies in the market. I make sure all the bills get paid and take care of the business errands. I had to figure out how to use the stove (Celsius, not Fahrenheit), the washer (no directions – just letters on the dial) and the dryer (directions in Dutch - ‘extra droog’ means completely dry!) The dryer isn’t vented like in the US: it has a moisture collection chamber that needs to be emptied after each use. My most important responsibility is caring for my stepson. I make sure he is properly dressed, has breakfast and gets to school on time. I collect him when class lets out, talk to the teachers, mingle with the other ‘mommies’, arrange 19 playgroups, chitchat and am accepted as one of the ‘girls’. You could call this a classic case of role-reversal with me as ‘Mr Mom’. Or as I look at it, a chance to appreciate the role of a supporting spouse and show support for my wife. By accepting the role and doing the best job I can, we as a family can truly enjoy this wonderful expat experience. Rob Zlebis ‘Women only’ Instead of The Kept Husband, maybe CEO of an Expatriate I remember as a child my sister would occasionally hang a Partnership. sign on her door: ‘Girls only. No boys allowed!’ Never did I The New Skirt could be Multitasking Male of Style. imagine that a similar implied sign would still be hanging on Dad of Daily Directional Designation and Deployment an adult’s door. Accompanying my wife in The Hague, I found could replace One of the Girls. that the opportunity for American men to socialise with other Room Mom? Why not just Room Parent? expatriates in an organised setting is virtually impossible. The Regarding Women Only, call yourself Today’s Male, majority of the established organisations are women-only. form a new club and invite men and women to join. Be I enquired about joining the American Women’s Club. In lieu of inclusive! full membership, I was offered membership of the library only. Full membership is reserved for women. Of course these titles are fun and creative, but also important. Men, create your own! Hopefully your new self- Entertaining as some of these personal accounts may be, proclaimed title will remind you of your importance to those each offers insight into the challenges and new lifestyles who matter most: your spouse/partner and your family. In male accompanying partners experience. Why let the world the end, the rewards will outweigh the obstacles. around us blur our vision of what is most important? I decided to have some fun and create new titles for these Joel Cognevich men. Something like: Despite the condescending designation ‘trailing spouse’ or ‘trailing partner’ those accompanying on an expatriate assignment, whether male or female, realise that they are more than a simple tag-along. Those who are ‘trailing’ deserve a more tting title for their involvement promoting Shell globally. Perhaps ‘supporting spouse’ or ‘supporting partner’ is suitable recognition? * tram/bus ticket Celebrations A European acquaintance once remarked that she had lived in a few Muslim countries, and found that in each one Eid- ul-Fitr (Eid for short) is celebrated differently. My response was: yes and no. Eid is celebrated in the month of Shawwal by Muslims the world over, following a month of fasting in Ramadan. While Muslims in different countries may wear different clothes and, to the unaccustomed, appear to recognise Eid in a different manner, two things dominate: renewing relations with family and friends, and asking their forgiveness. I was recently at my second Hari Raya (the name for Eid in Malaysia) since repatriating to Kuala Lumpur. Ahmad and I and our kids reached my parents’ home, about three hours’ drive from Kuala Lumpur, the day before Hari Raya. It was 20 the final day of fasting. My mom, a gutsy woman of sixty- five, had just had the whole house repainted bright yellow on the outside and pale yellow inside. It had been more than a decade since the wooden house on stilts was last painted. Like others in the village, it had many windows and was shaded by rambutan and coconut palm trees that swayed gently when a mild breeze blew. To snatch a glimpse of the goings-on within, you need to climb a stairway that leaned against the veranda. It’s a hectic day today – a welcome change from my parents’ normally tranquil lifestyle. This is the day on which we prepare savoury delicacies and deliver them to the neighbours and close family members in what is known as the ‘munjung’ tradition. We have 10 families on the list; a modest number. My uncle, a thriving businessman, has more than 30. All day, the kitchen buzzes with activity. There are fish and chickens to clean, meat to dice, vegetables to slice and grated coconuts to squeeze. One could easily be overwhelmed by the task in hand, for the prepared foods must be delivered before iftar (breaking of fast at dusk). But we systematically divide the chores between family members young and old, my maid included. In the middle of it all, mom asks me to bring the kettle to boil. I step out of the kitchen towards nine ceramic tubs, each no less than four feet high, tucked in a corner and huddled against one another. They each have a girth almost that of an elephant’s belly. Some are brown, some green and maroon, but each has two dragons engraved around its middle. Fire spews from the beasts’ jaws and snouts; razor sharp claws protrude from their toes. In spite of these voracious features, the dragons have a warm, friendly look about them. Within the tubs’ bellies is mom’s treasure – rainwater. She would never, if she could help it, drink anything but rainwater! Celebrations Home for Hari Raya Young and old mingle during Hari Raya Getting ready to visit family and friends. By sundown, we have delivered all the food in tiffin carriers, It rained tonight. If you have ever lived in a house with a 21 and broken our fast. Exhausted, I soon drift off to slumber. zinc roof, you’ll have an idea of how deafening the sound of At dawn next morning, I wash for prayer and notice how raindrops pelting the roof can be when it rains heavily. The sparklingly clean the house is. A row of cakes and cookies wind came in soft blasts. I sat contented by the kitchen door, sits on the table in the living room, ready to greet well- legs crossed, teacup in hand. The tea was a strong brew and wishers. its fragrant aroma and warmth seeped through my senses. I’m home. Soon, every member of the family (25 in all, down to the Jamilah Samian tiniest tot) is dressed in their best. We crowd around mom and dad, who are seated on a sofa, and take turns to kiss their hands and hug them, asking their forgiveness for any One of the best things about repatriation wrongdoing. This is a very significant ritual, as every Muslim is being there for celebrations that bring believes that a sin committed against a fellow human being together family and friends - it’s fun, may not be forgiven by anyone (even God) except that person. Next to be approached are husbands, wives, uncles, nostalgic, and weaves another path aunts, and children and more hugs and kisses follow – and in the realm of consciousness that says sometimes tears as well – as each of us reminisces over the “I’m home” past year. We have hardly had breakfast when the first visitors arrive: my elder cousin Maryam’s children with their children – a fine entourage, all 15 of them. Another group arrives before they leave, a band of youngsters who are making an attempt to visit as many neighbours by themselves as they can. There is a flurry of activity to offer them drinks and sweetmeats and, of course, catch up with one another. And so the day goes on, with one group arriving almost before the previous one leaves, for during the month of Shawwal no one needs an invitation to visit. You try to see as many people as possible to strengthen family and friendship ties, besides asking for pardon for previous misdeeds. Beneath the atmosphere of gaiety is a discernible air of solemnity. Every Muslim believes that a sin committed against a fellow human being may not be forgiven by anyone (even God) except that person.
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