A Jungle full of adventures: The King of the Swingers or the Jungle VIP?

I recently went to see the Jungle Book movie, a story particularly close to my heart because of my scouting and personal experiences. I was a Bagheera as a Cub Assistant Leader a few moons ago (something like 20 years ago!), became an Akela recently, but did not have the time to settle into that role as we moved abroad. My father-in-law was a Baloo, and a great Baloo too!  My children have been in Scouts and know all about the story. My youngest loves animals and calls the woods here, the jungle. For his first experience at the cinema, we were in for a treat!

The movie made me think of different parallels associated to moving to a new country. First, the jungle of the Jungle Book reflects in many aspects what it feels like to experience all the adventures of a new country, some happy, exciting and some more difficult and challenging. Second, many themes related to global migration are presented in this story:

  • leaving home
  • leaving loved ones behind
  • feeling different in a dominant culture
  • being ‘adopted’ in a different culture
  • using different skills and strategies to survive and live
  • meeting a number of different people on route
  • meeting people who become special friends
  • needing to judge people who are friends from the ones who can hurt you
  • needing to fight for oneself and protect others
  • respecting culture and values in a fight
  • being part of a team

Third, each character also has a different way to approach adventures and jungle. These different ways of being in the jungle also have great resonance in how one may approach adventures in a new country and this is what grabbed my attention…I make some analogies here, there may be a number of others…

Mowgli is a keen adventurer. Initially naive about the dangers of the jungle, he encounters a number of hurdles that could have cost him his life, but he perseveres, carries on, finds his way. He uses skills, strategies, speed, finesse to deal with these adventures. He succeeds in putting his ideas across to build more advanced methods of food hunting. He is reliable and loyal to his friends and those protecting him. He develops close friendships and uses teamwork to fight against violence.

Bagheera, a great protector and a coach. Firm, he accompanies others closely, warns of dangers, allows reflections of one’s skills as well as strategies as to how to approach adventures. Although, he gives specific advice, he gives space to others to develop one’s own experiences. He is there in the distance and always comes back to protect. He is observant and strategic when dealing with tricky situations. After observing one’s skills, effort and hard work, he respects it. He allows one to fight with his own strengths. He is loyal and respectful of others as well as appreciative of one’s presence and skills. Although, he appears more a solitary character initially, he builds confidence in others’ skills and works as a team.

An easy going character, living life to the full, Baloo delegates chores he feels he cannot do/does not want to do, the bare necessity, a minimum effort as we say in our house! His humour and easy way of life helps in finding a happy and secure environment in the jungle. Spending time, sharing and building strategies with others aiming to meet primary needs are his main activities in the jungle. Life seems simple and happy around Baloo. He finds great companionship.  His determination to overcome his own difficulties allows him to defend a friend. Although, he is seen to ask everyone favours initially, he works as a team to fight.

Akela is the leader, the head of the pack, protector, fights for the pack which costs him his life. Although, surrounded by a team (the council), there is a sense that he must remain strong and take the ultimate decisions alone. He insists that one should fight with the skills Akela taught.

Shere Khan has ultimately developed some maladaptive behaviour to deal with an earlier experience. He is relentlessly trying to deal with what he believes is an earlier mistake, but many will fight against. He is disruptive, frustrated, aggressive, difficult and manipulative. His ultimate goal is to destroy.

Kaa appears amicable at first, but manipulates others with her charming powers. She takes a long and enlacing approach to talking to someone, being convincing that one must be on her team and respect her, but ultimately perceives one has a prey.

Raksha, a mother figure, protective of her ‘children’, loving and attentive, she lets one go  for safety, adventures and self-discovery. Although devastated, she understands that it is now the time and that she has given her ‘child’ all a ‘child’ needs to explore the jungle and survive. She recognises skills and strengths in others and believes in one’s skills and strengths. Although worried, she appears to have a positive sense of future…’everything will be alright’.

King Louie is a firm, powerful character. He has built a huge empire where many people live around him and defend him. He hides in a huge castle/kingdom. When he decides to be part of the battle, he destroys all his kingdom and everything else in his passage.

So, when going in the jungle of adventures such as moving abroad, which character are you? What skills do you need for moving abroad? What approach works best?

Well, my husband is definitely a Mowgli! I was surprised at Bagheera’s role in accompanying Mowgli and particularly connected again with this character. The movie reminded of a Raksha I volunteered with, who played a great mother role in the pack. I particularly related to this role, now being a mother of three. I suppose skills, strengths and attitudes evolve over time…there may be a need to be more than one characters along the way! As per skills and the best approach, I will let you reflect on this!

Some fascinating analogies, no wonder Baden-Powell asked Kipling to use his story for the Cub Scouts…a great story for all sort of global migration adventures!


Interview At Planète F

I participated in an interview on global migration and citizenship. Please find the link below. A very interesting article in French (and an interview in English) which relate well opportunities and challenges for global families. I summarise here themes discussed by the different families in the article, very similar themes to the ones I have talked about here so far:

  • living in a different language, needing to learn a new language to communicate in an adoptive country and being accepted with a different accent
  • understanding your own culture versus new ones
  • knowing your cultural heritage and origins
  • similarities and differences between political and economic migration
  • needing to come ‘home’ regularly, leaving some deep roots behind
  • saying painful and emotional goodbyes
  • needing to reflect about opportunities outweighing roots and relationships
  • difficult adaptation and integration
  • technology helping communication with relatives and friends



Are we lucky?

Many people have said to us ‘you are so lucky’. Other people have said ‘I could never do this, you are so brave’. Others have said ‘look at you, moving across the world’, ‘look at you a little girl from Mont-Joli’. People’s reactions to someone’s ‘luck’ is interesting…Would I say I am lucky? Definitely not! I never won the lottery, hardly ever won great raffle prizes…I see luck as something your name being pulled out of the hat, out of the blue, when your effort has been minimal.

I would be tempted to say that we have made our luck, or even this isn’t luck. First, we worked hard to get to where we are, qualifications, work experience, children, house, etc. There were a number of setbacks, not always simple to solve. We have had to cope with lots of emotions over the years, being away from our families, needing to be self-reliant. It has certainly not been simple doing a doctorate with young children and a husband working away.

Second, we have continued to be sensitive to new opportunities, enquire, express interests, be in the right place at the right time, building relationships, talking to people, inviting people over, putting ourselves out there in different roles for voluntary organisations… all of which have continued to make us attractive to employers as it shows resourcefulness, creativity and leadership…we could have chosen a different path. It is easy to enter a mould of being at home, ‘waiting for the bus of luck’; it is much harder to get out there create connections and have extra responsibilities. The problem is ‘the bus of luck’ rarely comes, it will go by…If you feel you are not lucky and looking for changes in your life, look around you ‘where am I needed’, ‘what could I do to help’, ‘talk to people about your dreams, talents and interests’…think out of the box…

Third, it takes a huge amount of flexibility to live in other cultures as you need to expect that normal routines, food, language, etc. will not be the same as your native country. You need to continue be open minded and discover new things every day. Yes, it is appealing and exciting but it can also be tiring because things are never familiar, it is always new. It takes adaptation to respond to these new demands and concepts. It may not be for everyone either as some people may prefer the comfort of home, routines and familiar people. Moving abroad certainly brings all the opposite. If you are thinking of moving abroad, perhaps it is important to reflect on the type of person you are to ensure that familiarity and comfort does not outweigh discovery and adventures.

Finally, we always see the positives in a situation or solutions to resolve a problem. Yes, there are moments that are particularly stressful and we experience difficult feelings too, but with communication and positive thinking, solutions eventually evolve.

So are we lucky?…well, we have been proactive, creative, flexible, resilient, self-reliant, positive. Interestingly, I was reading in Psychology Today an article about the 8 habits of Highly Lucky People (www.psychologytoday.com). The different habits explained in the text, be mindful, proactive, be opportunistic, be insightful, be flexible, be optimistic and think out of the box, particularly reflect my way of thinking about our luck…not sure it is to do with luck…

Moose to opossum, Opportunities to Challenges…after all we are all global citizens!

As we are living new adventures, I have been thinking it would be great to write about it in a more formal way than perhaps other social media sites. I also wanted my thoughts and experience to benefit families who may experience something similar to us. This site is intended to give a flavour of what it may be like to move abroad. I also intend to post some ideas and solutions that I found useful and that may help other families experiencing global migration. Information, ideas and solutions may be pertinent to practitioners and professionals supporting families and children experiencing such big transitions. I sincerely hope you find reflections, insights and ideas helpful. Do not hesitate to post some interesting solutions and ideas too. Why not share some of your experiences, similar or different?

I could write in French (my first language) but global pressures, dominant language and my daily existence make it difficult to write in my first language (j’espère que vous me pardonnerai!). I intend to write in English but please feel free to communicate in French if, as me, your first language is French. I apologise in advance for those who would like to communicate in other languages as I would love to be able to communicate in more languages.