Transition and Reentry


The transition out of high school and into either college or the work force is difficult for everyone. Even students raised in the US find themselves facing new challenges and undergoing major life changes during this period. But TCKs will be facing another monumental transition: that of reentering into American culture after leaving their home on the field. All of these changes can be overwhelming for students and parents alike.TCKI is here to help.

To smooth this transition process, preparation for reentry should begin long before the plan leaves the tarmac on its way to America. Be intentional about preparation. RAFT is an acronym for some concrete actions that should be taken prior to departure to help smooth transition times. It was developed by David Pollock of Interaction, Inc. By intentionally following the RAFT plan, , TCKs and families can create a ―life RAFT‖ to help them navigate a potentially tumultuous transition period.

Reconciliation involves taking time to think of any open-ended relationships TCKs might have. For example, if they have been arguing with someone, it is vital that they resolve the conflict before leaving. Reconciliation is important because leaving without resolving issues cause the issue to fester, and the lack of closure can be emotionally taxing later on. Reconciliation can range from just returning marbles that were borrowed to resolving an ongoing conflict.

Affirmation involves finding those important people in life and letting them know either how much they are loved or will be missed. Affirmation is important since the TCK may not return to the same country or see the same person again.

Farewells are also very important. Take the time to say farewell to people, to places, to things and to traditions. In addition to verbal farewells, taking pictures of friends, places, and pets can also help. Saying goodbye to the family’s favorite restaurant, the house workers, friends, vehicles, or school can help bring a sense of closure.

Think Destination. Take time to discuss thoughts and feelings about the new location. Gather information about the new destination; school, city, state, etc. Look at photos of the school, the dorms, new apartments, etc. The more realistic the expectations, the less dissatisfaction you will experience if the expectations aren’t completely met upon arrival.

(Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds, David C. Pollock & Ruth E. Van Reken, pg. 181-182.). 

Reentry Seminars

High school graduate TCKs are eligible to participate in the MuKappa (Barnabas International) or Interaction re-entry programs prior to their first year of college in the United States. The seminar fee and the cost of travel to and from the seminar is a one-time only expense, can be paid from the parents' account and will accumulate as taxable income.

The TCK Office recommends that graduated seniors to attend this seminar rather than the Fellowship's Summer Program. Summer Programs is designed for TCKs still in high school and doesn’t deal with the important topics these seminars cover in depth. Taking part in a reentry seminar will be especially beneficial for your TCK for the following reasons:

  • Reentry after graduation will be the most permanent transition your TCK will make: TCKs need to focus on a long-term adjustment to life in the United States.

  • The U.S. culture is different than it was four years ago.

  • College and work are both new sub-cultures to which MKs will have to adjust.

  • This will most likely be an TCK’s first transition without their parents.

During the seminars, TCKs are able to do group activities and receive personal counseling to treat any individual concerns they may have about the transition. Please note, the seminars do fill up on a first come — first serve basis, so if interested, sign up right away. 

Barnabas International (MuKappa):

Barnabas International hosts MuKappa Reentry seminars once a year. This retreat, designed for high school graduates, will provide insights, activities and seminars aimed at transitioning into life in the United States. Students will have opportunities to connect with other third-culture young adults as well as experienced staff as they prepare for the next journey in life. For more information or to register (be sure to verify deadlines), visit their website The average cost for the seminar is $400.

Interaction International:

For almost 30 years Interaction International has been preparing adolescent Third Culture Kids through their Transition Seminars. The content is designed to be interactive, fun, insightful and if applicable, healing.

The average cost per is $425 per TCK. For more information, please visit


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