These are the exotic, funny and sometimes bittersweet family stories of an overseas childhood told by the daughter of a State Department diplomat about her family's travels and experiences living overseas from 1957 to 1972.She and her six brothers spent their childhoods in South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand and Ethiopia. Through her stories, the reader can begin to appreciate the adaptability of children to other cultures and the fortitude and courage of parents trying to raise their children to be good citizens of the world as well as good Americans.
I don't remember being asked at the time how I felt about moving overseas. No one thinks to ask the six year old. My mother, four brothers and I moved because of my father's career. He worked for the U.S. State Department and living overseas was part of his job description.
It had also been his dream to travel and live in foreign lands, so he felt lucky and excited in 1956 when he received his first overseas assignment to Seoul, South Korea. It was three years after the Korean War and my father saw it as a huge opportunity.
My mother had a bit of the wanderlust, too. She had met my father in 1944 at the University of Colorado where she was a student and he was enrolled in the Navy's language school studying Chinese. I'm sure that appealed to her since, as the story goes, when she was a preschooler back in Omaha, she tried to dig a hole to China in her backyard.
She couldn't wait to join my father in Korea and as soon as they allowed families to go, there was no question but that we'd be on the next available flight.
I was too young to question my life and ask if it was "normal". What kid does? But looking back, I admit that my world view was a bit distorted at the time. For instance, I had no idea that Korea was a separate country or for that matter, what the word "foreign" meant. Children are very accepting travelers; which is probably the best kind.
Leaving America back then was like going on a grand expedition into the unknown. It took a lot of careful planning and organizing and a certain amount of bravado.