The children are students of the International Baccalaureate program, where International Mindedness and Global Citizenship are essential parts of the program. Children are encouraged to see themselves as citizens of the world, rather than citizens of a nation. In many cases, this is absolutely true - with many children speaking multiple languages and identifying with a range of countries before they are four years old (I taught a child who spoke 4 languages and was fluent in each of these, his mother was Armenian, his father was French, he was born in Germany and was living in Saudi Arabia). While I relish this notion, I have come to realize that it is not 'either/or' rather 'and' - Identity and knowing who you are and where you come from (whakapapa) is important to me AND so is understanding that you are a citizen of the world and you can influence and make a contribution to the world.
As my family and I start our return home to Aotearoa, it is with sorrow that we farewell our Kiwis in KAUST whanau. As I reflect on the past 4 years and our original purpose of having a slice of home in our desert home, I without a doubt am incredibly proud of the kids and their families. Not only do our children stand tall and exude pride in being Kiwi but people from nations all over the world appreciate our culture and heritage too.