TTS18 with Japhet, Tee & Big Blue
I know parents are looking forward to phone calls this week. Your daughters are excited and perhaps a little anxious to hear from you at home. They very well may cry when they hear your voices, especially with the first call home, even if they were whispering and giggling during study hall minutes earlier. They want to hear about what they may have missed since they've been gone, and they sometimes don't even know where to begin when you ask them how they've been or what they've done.
Here are some things you can do to help:
Reassure your daughters that homesickness is normal and many people experience this when they leave home for a while. Remind her that homesickness is usually short-lived.
Listen to your child's challenges and concerns, but don't let the looking back hinder her moving forward. Remind her that she is there to learn, and make new friends and grow.
Establish a regular contact time but limit the number of acceptable calls. We think calling home too much or too little can be the most difficult for our students. For the first half of the semester, public phone access is not consistent, so we will try to set up phone calls every 10 days to two weeks. Once the girls are in South Africa, there will be more opportunities for them to call you directly. Some parents end up with very expensive phone bills as a result of international calling if they don't keep tabs on this.
Encourage your daughter to become involved in her new life and her new community. Ask about her classes, activities, and the other students that she's met. Praise her for her efforts to make friends. In particular, ask her about Victoria Falls, her time at the orphanage and service projects, staying on a houseboat in Lake Kariba, and her favorite classes. Ask her to describe Japhet to you (the safari truck driver) or to tell you about Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, a book she's reading for Global Studies.
If homesickness has not improved after several phone calls, encourage her to talk to her mentor. Please follow up with the home office yourself for a progress report.
It's true, that this might not happen with your daughter, but it's nice to think about it before your first phone call. Feel free to call or email us in the office anytime if you have concerns during the semester.
Until then, I hope you successfully connect with your daughters on Thursday and Friday, but if you don't get through, we'll work it out for you to try again! Know in advance that orchestrating 11 phone calls from all over the US to two cell phones across the ocean in Zambia will come with a few dropped calls and possibly some crackly connections. Know also that we've got our fingers crossed here in the office and are hoping this all goes smoothly!