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Global Reunion campers carry flags of the countries where they’ve lived.
Photos by Chellie Ison

Third Culture Kids find a sense of ‘home’ at annual Global Reunion

OKLAHOMA CITY — ‘The Lord bless you and keep you …” 

The words of the farewell song rang out as the 2019 Global Reunion came to a close. 

Campers young and old gathered in a huddle, arms around each other, singing the hymn as a closing prayer for the weeklong camp held on the campus of Oklahoma Christian University.  

Ameleah Brauer, right, and her friend Sara Boice at the Global Reunion.

Ameleah Brauer, right, and her friend Sara Boice at the Global Reunion.

“It’s a real community,” said Nancy Hartman, who directs the camp along with her husband, Kent. This was the 14th year for the Reunion. Its 150 participants represented 40 countries. 

Missionary and military families who have lived overseas come together at the camp to learn cross-cultural transition skills to help them adapt to life in the U.S. The camp also helps them to acknowledge the grief many feel and provides healthy ways to work through the grief.

Campers like Ameleah Brauer say they look forward to Global Reunion every summer.

“I love them all so much,” she said of the friends she’s made.

She first came with her family three years ago, after they returned from serving as missionaries in Italy. She keeps coming because she says it’s easier to connect with the teens here than it is at “home” in Arkansas.

That’s a common thread among Third Culture Kids — children who are raised in a culture other than their parents’, Nancy Hartman said.

When they return to their parents’ culture, “churches and families are always so happy to see them,” she said. “Grandmas and aunts are all hugging them and saying, ‘Welcome home,’ but they’ve just left home.” 

“It helps me to understand myself better every time.”

Third Culture Kids, or TCKs, “don’t have a way to say, ‘I don’t feel at home,’” said Nancy Hartman, a former missionary to Australia and the mother of three TCKs. 

Brauer spent 11 years of her life in Italy. Now, her family lives in Arkansas. While she is a U.S. citizen, it’s hard for her to call Arkansas home. Coming to Global Reunion isn’t just about connecting with friends, she said. It’s helped her adjust and learn to live in the country she now calls home. 

“It helps me to understand myself better every time,” she said. “The sessions are really relatable to me and the things I’m going through.”

WEBSITE: intermissionministry.org 

Filed under: Global Reunion intermission ministry missionary children missionary kids National Oklahoma Christian University Partners re-entry returning missionaries TCK Third Culture Kids Top Stories

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