International Kids

Ever wake up with that nagging feeling that there’s something on today?  Something you’ve forgotten? Then you realize it was something the kids were supposed to do for school.  Something that between fevers and midnight feeds, and heaven help us setting up your own business, that perhaps it’s kinda slipped your mind?

Ok, so I forgot my son’s International Day for kindy. He’s only two; he doesn’t know what day of the week it is, let alone what country he’s from so granted I don’t think he’s going to have any great long-term scarring.  I remembered before we actually got there which is a big bonus (Mr Globetrotter is still mentally tortured by a missed casual clothes day in high school).

International DayThrough years of practice we now have a range of Australian t-shirts in a range of sizes for exactly occasions like this, and thankful for my role with the local Aussies Abroad committee, I was able to rifle through our bag of tricks we keep for family days and proffer up a small Australian flag – (read deadly weapon in the hands of toddler).

I have had an epic fail in the food department though.  Weeks ago I fully intended to learn how to make ANZAC biscuits for the occasion – I am not completely kitchen incompetent! But as a fall back Vegemite sandwiches and some fairy bread will do; of course the bread was stale this morning.  Barbeque shapes are no longer available at LuLu’s and there’s no chance I am handing over my last packet on imported Allens sweets.

In a last ditch attempt to retain some sort of mummy capability this morning I sent him off with Australian paper plates and napkins.  It said bring a plate right?

national dayOk, on a more serious note, one of the absolute pleasures of expat life is that kids from all over the world get an opportunity from such a young age to interact with other cultures.  They get many of these interactions throughout the year, particularly from their host culture (the UAE are seriously passionate about their National Day!).  But there is something really special about International Days. My daughter is at ‘big school’ now and they get to do a parade around the school with their compatriots as well as joining in a range of activities, food sampling, music and much more. The kids simply love dressing in their national outfits and sharing the joy (yes t-shirt and thongs counts as national dress).

So why do I always break into a cold sweat when I get the notice home that they are having an International Day?  I think its because I am really passionate about my children’s heritage and where they come from.  Mine are by birth rights Australian and British (though still fighting the UK Home Office for my last child’s right to a passport –that’s another story!) but we are utterly bias to our own Aussie upbringing.  Despite none of our offspring being born there we hope as they grow up this is how they will identify themselves so its important that they understand the culture and traditions, in whatever way we can instill it.Hedrick_Jan13_262

Now that brings me to the next difficulty, its easy to get props, clothing and favourite foods for your home country – when you are there – but when you are living abroad it can be a real challenge.  A top tip for anyone looking at the expat life, take some patriotic gear with you! (T-shirts, flags, stickers, face paints, stuffed toys are good ideas).  Once your children are school age you will almost certainly be asked to participate in some sort of International Day so if you are travelling home, see what little goodies you can pick up for the kids to share with their classmates. .

I’ve put in a poor last minute performance this year and I am a little ashamed, but going forward its onward and upwards – if I truly want them to understand where they’re from and what is important and enjoyed by Aussie kids (not just on Australia Day). I need to let them be part of the planning and put it in to action. Then next job, help them locate Australia on the map!

Our first International Day when Miss Z joined Nursery in 2012

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. To help assist other parents before the last minute panic sets in I have created a Pinterest board for International Day ideas that you and your children can bring to your school.  I welcome any new contributors to this board especially from other nationalities (email me at [email protected]), or if you have any winning ideas that you have used at your child’s school before – whatever your culture and background – please mention them below so we can all share and learn.

Seychelles Mama

© OurGlobetrotters.Net


  • It sounds like you did a stellar last-minute job to me! We don’t have International Day in Italy. In some ways that’s a shame as I like the idea behind it, but on a practical level… it’d be chaos for us. Perhaps I’d send my toddler in wearing a British top hat and a Brazilian football shirt, and arm him with some Belgian chocolates…

  • I remember in our first six months in France when our 14yr old was only just four, we were asked to help out at nursery with an international food day. My French wasn’t great and I found myself running a cookery session of English food with 2 to 5 year old French kids. We decorated the tables with flags and survived!

  • I dread this. I send my son into school in a suit and tie to replicate a British Gent and usually put red white and blue ribbons in my daughter’s hair or so. That is about as far as we go, a poor showing for the principal’s wife.

    • I will ask the ladies doing the England table at my daughters school what they have planned for next week, we are going to miss this year’s big event (good or bad thing?!) as we fly out for spring holidays – i can’t believe a country with such a long and rich history and we’re all struggling for ideas!

  • Gosh – we’ve got all of this to come! I need to start planning now. The English aren’t that good at being patriotic. Absolutely nothing springs to mind! Oh dear me.

  • What a fab post Keri. International Day sounds really interesting. Anzac biscuits are a lot easier to make than lamingtons. I have made them. If you ever do, be prepared for chocolate everywhere…

  • Right let’s add British National Uniform to our shopping list for South Africa….although what exactly would that be? I have heard it suggested that we dress them up as punk rockers….we always dreaded International Day when we were children in Manila as we had no idea what to wear! In desperation our (English) friends went in kilts….they will be going to the International School in Pretoria so I am guessing there’s no getting away from it. I will have a look at your Pinterest ideas and see what others have come up with…..

  • Great idea to get stuff when you are back home. To be honest the day terrifies me a little as I know I need to step up to the plate and do something ridiculous (for me) like make Lamingtons! Luckily we had a spare cowboy/girl hat sitting in the cupboard and a chequed shirt last year for Ava. Great to find your blog. Thank you Seychelles Mama.

    • Lovely to have you Nicole! I have managed to dodge all actual baking duties so far but I know my time will come, collating recipes and ideas now in anticipation of many school years ahead of me. No one wrote this bit in the baby instruction manual!!

  • I think your tip about having a supply of patriotic stuff from home with you is a really good one. Stuffed toy animals (particularly for Aussies) are perfect for this sort of thing though not so useful as the kids get older. Every year my village in France puts on a Christmas fair with all the foreign residents showcasing their country. I’m British/Aussie (like your kids) and realised I had a pitiful amount of Aussie paraphenalia compared to British stuff but luckily have a couple of didgeridoos and plenty of koalas, kangaroos and wombats! Whenever my older son needs to highlight his Aussie heritage he now wears a genuine life-saver’s outfit from Avalon beach (Sydney) given to us by friends who are life-savers there. It works a treat with some thongs! #MyExpatFamily

  • I knew as soon as I saw international day you had to be in the UAE!! Haha! Somehow I’ve missed both nursery international days woohoo! Double woohoo as I Would have no clue! And no world book day either phew. Which is good because I have a child who hates fancy dress……..

    Right off to find you on bloglovin to read more xx

  • Love this!! Arthur isn’t in school yet but I can already see me being exactly the same as this with these big school day things (despite the hubby being deputy head at the school haha!!!
    Sounds like you did a great job with your last minute job…love that you literally gave him a plate to take!!
    Great idea to have a Pinterest board for this kind of thing, I’ll be sure to add you so I can take a look!
    Thanks for linking this up to #myexpatfamily 🙂

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