US expat in Taiwan
Interview date – September 2013
What is your name? MaDonna Maurer
Where are you originally from? Missouri, USA
Where are you living now? Taiwan
How long have you lived there? 7 years… this is the longest I’ve lived in one city since I finished college. Though I must admit, we are getting ready to move into our third apartment. I am married to a TCK – so there has to be some change, right? HA!
Where did you live before that? We lived in several cities in China.
What made you decide to make the move? One of my daughters has special needs and we were at a point that she really needed Speech Therapy in English. So my husband, a school administrator, began searching for jobs in Asian cities where we could find that. The only position open was in Taipei, and at that time we had ST in English was available.
What are your future plans? Remember, I’m married to a TCK, so your guess is as good as mine. HA! Though, I do believe we’ll stay in the Taipei area for a while. A few years ago my husband co-founded Taiwan Sunshine, a non-profit organization, for families of children with special needs. Through this organization we encourage local families through “ “, as well as encourage expat families with an educational option for children with special needs.
How many kids do you have? 3
Were they born in your ‘home’ country or in your adopted country? Or elsewhere?! All three were born in China. My youngest is adopted from there.
How have your children adapted to your move? They don’t know anything else, but with each move it has taken time. Time to “grieve” the old and to embrace and to be included into the new. I’ve been grateful that with each move I didn’t have to work outside the home, so I could be there for them when they needed me – to help them adapt and adjust.
Can you share any moments when you realised your kid wasn’t from your ‘home’ country. We were visiting my friend’s church in the US and she had my son (age 4 at the time) in Sunday School. She told the story of Jonah in the whale and asked the kids if they had ever eaten seaweed, and how it probably would taste really gross. Of course, my son raised his hand and said that he loved it.
All three will still ask after about two weeks being in the US or in Germany for some stir-fry and rice; and none of them can eat the super sweet desserts from the US. Asian desserts are just not as sweet.
Have your children learned the language? What method of language learning worked best for them? Yes, they do speak Chinese. When we lived in China we had a house helper that could not speak English, so the kids had Chinese from the beginning. Here in Taiwan, we don’t have the house help, but they attended local school for a few years of Kindergarten. They also take Chinese in the international school, but I think the best help lately has been having them in activities taught in Chinese.
What three personality characteristics would you consider are necessary for a success expat life? 1. Must be fluid – able to flow with each situation that comes your way. I would say flexible, but with flexibility there is always a chance of breaking – but being fluid you are constantly flowing and can change directions or speeds. 2. Compassionate – think of others, especially as you deal with the locals and other expats from other cultures. When you care for others you tend to find understanding of the differences in culture, and not so focused on whatever was done to you. Sometimes what was done, wasn’t intentionally wrong. 3. Humble – If you tend to be prideful, then get ready to be humbled. I think that those who are humble have watched and observed how things are done and may ask questions as to “why” or “how”, but not in the “I have all the answers” kind of way – but more in a way that they want to learn the culture of the other person.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog. How long have you been blogging? I started blogging about 3-4 years ago about writing and life – a few years later I realized that my passion was more with parents of TCKs, so about two years ago I began blogging at www.raisingtcks.com.
Why did you start blogging? This passion stemmed from not finding any information for parents. I found information for teachers and for TCKs that had grown up, but nothing really for the parents. I was really excited when I found your blog because I knew that this was exactly what was needed – an experienced person who understood the media side and who had lived overseas.
Has it contributed to your well-being in any way? I think it has. I have found that writing has helped me to process my emotions and thoughts. I wish I had more time to do more writing, but for this season in my life I’ll take what I can get. Writing has also led me to friendships of other individuals who are walking down the expat road with children trailing behind. I’ve gained new insights and understanding, but also encouragement from these other ladies.
Thank you for sharing, MaDonna!
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