The Legendary Special Sauce

There’s a legendary special sauce that makes Transit Lounge stand out. It’s our MK staff. We might design and lead the programs with care, enthusiasm, and heart, but they make everything more. More intense. More heartfelt. More relatable. More better.

Volunteer MK Staff are Transit Lounge’s “special sauce.” These young professionals take a week off of work and travel at their own expense to give back to their TCK community. They lead small groups, share their experiences, and bring the fun. Without them, we’re at a loss.

More about the Legendary Special Sauce

These legends also teach during our week of Transit Lounge. Some teach large group sessions and workshops around their areas of expertise. All of them teach the TCKs in their small groups in an informal, personal way. During one-on-one times with each member of their small groups, the MK staff has the opportunity to share their own hard won knowledge–especially as it relates to transitioning into American life.

Ken Spenser Small Group 23

The small group that Ken and Spenser led in the summer of ’23.

Ken, an MK staff member raised in Ghana, explained, “As a TCK who didn’t have a Transit Lounge experience, I was poorly equipped and really struggled with my adult life in the US. I volunteer each summer to help the TCKs who are going through those same struggles.”

Another MK staff member, and also part of Interaction’s regular staff, Spenser said, “When I tell people that volunteering at Transit Lounge feels like a vacation, they always give me a weird look. Not sure why. This is an excellent opportunity to give back and pass forward the things that were shared with me at some point. In addition, listening to the TCKs in my group share their stories, showing them they are important, and being interested in them is my way of loving on them, and I believe the Holy Spirit works through that.”

When asked what he has learned in his years of volunteering at Transit Lounge, Spenser replied, “It doesn’t matter how many times you hear about something if you’re not listening.” How true! Exposure to a concept rarely means it is internalized.  One of the important things that makes our MK staff the legendary special sauce, is that they review the concepts presented throughout the week with their small groups. This allows them to learn what has been heard and to either correct or encourage the internalization of the information.

Importance of Small Group Leaders

One of the primary responsibilities of the MK staff is to lead small groups. These groups meet daily–if not more often. Within the confines of the small group, each member–including the MK staff leader–shares their story. This is one of the few places a TCK can tell their life story to others and have an audience that relates to it.  What a gift to be seen and known!

Some small groups disband with little contact at the end of the week. Others form groups on Whats App and check in with each other regularly. Once, there was a small group that planned their own mini-retreat over a weekend a few months after the end of camp. They insisted their staff leader needed to be present in order to make the weekend complete. Right there! That’s the stuff of legendary special sauce!

Summer '23 Collage

Small groups and the Legendary Special Sauce small group leaders from the summer of ’23.

Ongoing Influence

Recently, I received a text from a TCK who was in my small group a few years ago.  We had not had much contact since we said good-bye at the end of camp. We follow each other on some social media platforms, but neither one of us posts much. However, as I followed my pup around the dog park, my phone buzzed with an incoming message.  The TCK wanted to know if I remembered her–of course I did! Then she caught me up a little on her life, and asked if I would pray for her. Again–of course!

I know I’m not the only one to receive messages like this. Some of our MK staff don’t see their influence beyond the week their together with the Transit Lounge participants. Some are able to maintain hear from parents about the impact they made on a TCK. And a few are able to maintain contact for years.

What a privilege it is to build lasting relationship with TCKs as they begin the arduous business of adulting in America.  Even if it’s only for a few days, it’s important work. It’s also a particular joy that happens in very few other contexts.

We are thankful for our MK staff and love seeing them positively impact the next generation of TCKS.

Jump into June

Many of you reading this already gave towards TCK scholarships with our Jump into June initiative–thank you so much! If you haven’t, would you? Giving to Jump into June makes it possible for MKs and other TCKs who couldn’t otherwise afford to a week of camp to join our Transit Lounge community of TCKs. Without your gift to help cover costs, there are TCKs who will miss out on the influence of our legendary special sauce. None of us want that.

 

Parents Have a Lot to Say

 

Parents have a lot to say

Parents have a lot to say about Transit Lounge and its impact on their children.  In case you were wondering if Transit Lounge is just a week at camp or if there’s more to it, parents think there’s a lot more to it. Each year after we wrap up our summer programs we are so encouraged when parents share how their kids are doing.

One mom who sent two of her daughters to us last summer told us Transit Lounge is mentioned almost daily in their home. They are still enjoying the fruit of the week. The elder daughter told her mom excitedly, “I didn’t melt down or cry before my “History of Me” speech.” When mom asked, “Why?” she said, “I think I did a lot of work on grief at Transit Lounge so I felt less anxious in class.”

Grief and the TCK

Grief is Loss’s constant companion.  They are inseparable. TCKs experience at least as much loss, and, therefore grief, by the time they graduate from high school as most monocultural Americans experience in the course of their whole lives.  That’s a lot of grief!

We know that unprocessed grief is a millstone around the neck. It weighs down. It limits capacity. It inhibits in ways we can’t imagine–until it’s processed and the healing process can begin.  Transit Lounge is NOT a debriefing program, However, informal debriefing happens throughout the week.

small group hug

TCKs share their stories in small groups and during one on one time with their small group leader.  They tell their roommates during walks and after lights out. They tell the counselor on staff when the stories and the feelings that are knit into them are too big, and they tell them when they know they must be spoken. Carrying grief and the stories of the words and actions that birthed the grief is laborious.

Thankfully, Transit Lounge is not “Grief Camp.” Lots of fun happens every day.  From the silliness that starts each session to games and enjoying the vistas of each location, there’s a distinct lightness that infuses each week.

And then there’s the staff–both Interaction’s regular staff and the volunteer adult MK staff who make our programs possible–they all love the TCKs. They want to see them thrive. They want them to process their hard things. They bring the love and lightness with them.

More from Parents

The mom went on to share that her youngest daughter started crying as she drove away from camp—and she cried for most of the next two weeks. When asked why she was crying, the daughter responded, “They REALLY loved me. They really love TCKs–and they don’t have to!”

For two weeks that TCK processed her fears, grief, and resentment that had built up over her life. She was able to start her new school in the States well because she was armed with tools and strategies for processing a lifetime of masked pain.

So often loving someone looks like listening to them. At Transit Lounge, we listen. We humbly hold the sacred trust of hearing the TCKs in our midst. And that doesn’t just look like love. It’s how we love people well. It’s how we love TCKs well.

Another mom wrote and said, “My daughter had a wonderful time–to put it lightly! Thank you for the hours invested in making that week beneficial. We are eager to see how God uses all she learned.

Readying Transit Lounge

Even after years of experience, Transit Lounge isn’t a pop-up event.  Within weeks of ending the last session of the summer’s last Transit Lounge, we start to work on the plan for the next summer.  We read and discuss the feedback the TCKs give us. We grab on to feedback from parents.  We digest all the tidbits of response and information that come to us.

We train our volunteer staff on running small groups, on child safeguarding, on the topics we’ll cover in our week together. We write to our financial and prayer supporters to garner scholarships and spiritual support. We don’t take any of the work lightly.

We need you. We need you to partner with us to make Transit Lounge a reality for MKs and other TCKs who can’t afford the week of camp–the week of starting to heal, the week of laughter and fun. Will you give towards a Transit Lounge scholarship? Will you pay for a TCK’s day at camp? Will you sponsor an MK?

Click over to this page and change a life.

We know if we’re as prepared as we can be for the summer, we’ll be able to have a lot of fun and love TCKs well.  We know parents will have a lot to say when we’re done. We can’t wait to hear it!

Why MKs Need Transit Lounge Now

This is why MKs need Transit Lounge now–not every TCK experience is a good one.  Some have great experiences.  All experience loss and grief. All need Transit Lounge.

MKs Need Transit Lounge Now Because Being a TCK Can Be Painful

We see this on their applications. This year one applicant wrote, “I moved back to the US right before high school. High school was rough. I feel stuck here, and I just want to go home but my country is at war. Being a TCK feels more like a curse than a blessing right now.”

Another applicant told us that TCK life is “…just hard. It is so painful some days and it takes time to heal from so many goodbyes. Carrying the burden of all of the mini griefs and losses is painful some days.” We can’t erase that pain, but we share it.  As the old saying goes, “A grief shared is a grief halved. MKs need Transit Lounge to help reduce the load of grief they carry.

“In elementary and middle school, I went to an international school where there were few children who were of my ethnicity, and as a result, I was bullied for how I was different.” Bullies exist everywhere in the world. We can’t change that.  However, we can provide a place of belonging for all MKs/TCKs.  That’s part of what Transit Lounge does.

Isolation, another common TCK experience, can come in many forms. One MK wrote on their application, “Between being in a foreign public school or being home schooled, it made me very lonely due to either being surrounded by people who would make fun of me for my beliefs or by being surrounded by no one at all.” Every educational choice has a price tag, a lot of those are emotional rather than monetary. Transit Lounge gives MKs a place where isolation is not the norm and community exists.

In a study conducted by TCK Training on the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE.) of TCKs, they discovered that 21% of the Adult TCKs surveyed had an ACE score of 4 or higher.  This is significant. In the general population of the United States, only 12.5% of adults scored 4 or more on the ACE scale. Higher ACE scores indicate a greater possibility for a person to have more physical, mental, and behavioral problems in adulthood.

Thankfully, ACE scores can be mitigated by Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs).  These include being listened to, belonging to a group of peers in high school, being prioritized, and having at least two non-parent adults who are invested in you. Transit Lounge is a week long PCE celebration! This is part of the reason why MKs need Transit Lounge now.

 

Another Reason Why MKs Need Transit Lounge Now

We Belong

 

Those same MKs who struggled with belonging and grief and hardships also said the following things about why they’re thankful to be TCKs.

“I have loved being a TCK and getting to know people from unique and new backgrounds. I feel so much more capable when it comes to being independent because I’ve seen so much more of the world. I know how to adapt, how to be humble, and appreciate new experiences and cultures. The wider worldview that being a TCK has given me is something that I truly cherish and  to (and will) take with me wherever I go.”

“I learned how it feels to be excluded and to have empathy for those going through it. These experiences have both helped me learn compassion for the people who do not have friends or family and will help me serve those who have had similar or worse experiences… I feel that I have learned what…my calling will beI have learned how Christ would want me to treat those who have less.”

If needs were duffel bags, a sense of belonging would be the biggest duffel bag most campers arrive with. Even if they belonged to a place and a friend group before they moved. A new continent, country, school, workplace, and church all at the same time creates a new need to belong. Transit Lounge helps to normalize this experience.  One of the reasons why MKs need Transit Lounge now  is so they know they are not alone in the midst of this humongous (and often monstrous!) transition.

Transit Lounge helps TCKs understand that healing can start immediately. They leave with tools, strategies, and the courage to keep at it. The also leave knowing a community exists where they belong.

Transit Lounge is more than a week of learning or a week of camp. Transit Lounge helps shift perspectives. Transit Lounge impacts lives forever and that’s why MKs need Transit Lounge now.

Jump into June

Interaction’s Jump into June campaign provides scholarships that make Transit Lounge financially feasible for most missionary families.  A scholarship for a day of camp costs$50.  A week of scholarship is $350. We need your help in providing scholarships for MKs and other TCKs who might not be able to afford Transit Lounge.  You can find more information (and give!) here. You can watch a video of our President, Bret Taylor, talk about why MKs need Transit Lounge now.  Follow the link and join in!

Jump into June 2024

Jump into June 2024 - Transit Lounge is Here

Jump into June 2024 with us! We know May has just begun.  It seems odd that we’re going to post a lot about June in the coming weeks, but we’re looking ahead. We want you to join us–and many missionary and other expat families–on our journey to June.

June marks a pivotal time for Interaction International, as we gear up to launch our transformative summer programs tailored for Missionary Kids (MKs) and Third Culture Kids (TCKs) returning from their international lives. These programs play a vital role in easing their transition from global living to American life, fostering deep connections and spiritual growth.

We cross the southern part of the country–from Texas to Georgia–holding cross-cultural transition seminars for teen aged TCKs.  Transit Lounge is one of the ways we give direct care to American kids who are growing up globally.  Transit Lounge is actually three camps held in the course of the summer.  Our Dallas area Transit Lounge starts in June.

Will you “Jump into June” with Interaction International this year?

Engagement and Expenses Climb while Revenue Declines

We love the work we do in June. We love being in real time with TCKs–and our staff.  June is wonderful!

However, June is also the most expensive time of year for us. Our summer programs will cost over $55,000 on top of our regular expenses!  That’s a lot.

The bad news is, June is also the month where donations historically slow down.

Historic expense and income graph

Expenses up! Donations down! That’s a huge problem. But that’s where you come in.

Jump into June 2024 Provides Scholarships

This is where your invaluable support becomes instrumental. Through our annual “Jump into June” scholarship drive, you have the unique opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of MKs and TCKs. Your generous contributions directly fund scholarships amounting to $21,000, enabling these TCKs to participate in Transit Lounge without financial barriers.

These scholarships not only benefit missionary families by easing financial burdens but also ensure the longevity and impact of Interaction International’s mission. They empower us to continue providing essential support and guidance to TCKs, fostering their growth and resilience.

Over the upcoming weeks, we invite you to delve deeper into the significance and impact of Transit Lounge through our blog. Learn firsthand why these programs are essential for MKs/TCKs, explore testimonials from parents about their children’s transformative experiences, and uncover the secret ingredients that make Transit Lounge a resounding success year after year

If you’d like to hear Bret Taylor, Interaction International’s president provide an insightful overview of Jump into June 2024,we encourage you to  click here.  Additionally, you can seize the opportunity to sponsor a TCK for a day (or more!) by visiting our donation page. Your support during “Jump into June 2024” is a catalyst for change and growth in the lives of these remarkable young individuals. Jump into June 2024 with us. You won’t regret it for a second!

Join us this June and be part of a meaningful journey that leaves a lasting impact. Together, let’s make a difference—one scholarship at a time. Embrace the spirit of generosity and compassion by supporting Interaction International’s mission. Jump into June 2024 with us, and witness the transformative power of your contribution.

MaDonna Maurer’s Expert Mission to Amplify TCK Voices

 

  1. IntroductionAmplify Among Worlds
  2. Early Life and Career
  3. Advocacy for TCKs
  4. Professional Achievements
  5. Recommendations and Podcast Preferences

 

MaDonna Maurer

Introducing MaDonna Maurer

Among Worlds magazine, a beacon for Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCKs), is set to embark on a new chapter with MaDonna Maurer at the helm as its Editor. With a rich tapestry of life experiences and a fervent dedication to amplifying TCK voices, MaDonna promises to revolutionize the publication’s narrative landscape.

MaDonna’s journey traces back to her roots in Missouri. Her thirst for cultural exploration was ignited there. In 1998, armed with a middle school education degree, she embarked on a transformative journey to China. There, amidst the bustling streets and vibrant culture, she found her calling within the walls of an international school.  She nurtured her passion for education and learned about the unique challenges faced by TCKs.

It was in China that MaDonna’s path intertwined with that of Uwe, a German MK from Taiwan. Their love story blossomed, leading to a union that would span continents and cultures. Together, they embarked on a new adventure, eventually settling in Taiwan with their three children: Marcus, Matthea, and Megan.

Despite not being a TCK herself, MaDonna’s intimate understanding of the TCK experience stems from her marriage to Uwe, parenting TKCs, and her dedication to fostering cross-cultural connections. Her personal blog, Raising TCKs, serves as a testament to her commitment to exploring the intricacies of TCK identity and upbringing.

Professional Achievements

Maurer’s prowess as a writer and editor is unparalleled. With articles featured in renowned publications such as Velvet Ashes and A Life Overseas, and as the former assistant editor of Multicultural Kids Blog, she brings a wealth of experience to her new role. Her recent graduation with a master’s in Care and Counseling further bolsters her credentials, positioning her as a trusted advocate and advisor for TCKs and their families.

As MaDonna Maurer takes the reins at Among Worlds, she envisions a future where TCK voices, including those of individuals with disabilities and those who are adopted, are welcomed to center stage. Through her unwavering dedication and boundless passion, she is set to redefine the narrative landscape for TCKs, ensuring that their stories are heard, valued, and celebrated on a global scale.

Book and Podcast Recommendations

Beyond her professional achievements, MaDonna’s voracious appetite for learning is evident in her current reading and podcast preferences. Her latest read is Girl Uprooted by Lena Lee. This underscore her commitment to understanding and empathizing with diverse cultural perspectives in the TCK universe.

In the world of podcasting, MaDonna gravitates towards *Therapy and Theology* by Proverbs 31 Ministry and *Shop Talk with Brandi and James*. These podcasts not only complement her professional expertise but also provide valuable insights into member care and cross-cultural therapy, enriching her understanding of TCK experiences and challenges.

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead, MaDonna intends to delve into the intersectionality of TCK experiences, shedding light on often overlooked perspectives within the community. She plans to collaborate with experts in fields such as psychology, sociology, and education to foster a deeper understanding of the multifaceted identities that define TCKs.

With MaDonna’s innovative leadership, Among Worlds is poised to become not only a publication but a dynamic hub for TCKs to connect, share, and thrive in their global journey of self-discovery and belonging. As MaDonna Maurer embarks on this new chapter, her vision and dedication serve as a beacon of hope for TCKs around the world. With her at the helm, Among Worlds is poised to soar to new heights, amplifying the voices and experiences of TCKs with vigor and authenticity.

Introducing Spenser Clower

Introducing Spenser Clower

In the vibrant mosaic of personalities that make up Interaction International’s team, there’s a fresh hue adding depth and dynamism: Spenser Clower, the newly appointed Office and Events Coordinator. With roots in Brazil and a heart tuned to the needs of missionary kids (MKs) and Third Culture Kids (TCKs), Spenser brings a unique blend of experiences and passion to his role.

Spenser’s Roots and Wings

Hailing from the diverse landscapes of Brazil, Spenser’s journey to his current position has been as rich and varied as the vistas of his homeland. “My name is Spenser. You can call me Spenser, or Star Lord–some people think I look like Chris Pratt,” he says with a warm smile, adding a playful twist, ” But I like to say the ‘Brazilian’ Spencer.”

 

Having spent the formative years of his life in Brazil, Spenser embodies the cultural richness and warmth that characterize the country. From the cascading wonders of the Iguassu Falls in Parana to the sun-kissed beaches of Arraial D’Ajuda in Bahia, his memories are etched with the vibrant hues of Brazil’s natural wonders.

 

However, Spenser’s journey extends beyond national borders. “I was born in Brazil, and if furloughs count, besides FL I’ve also lived in TX, IL, and MN,” he shares, highlighting the transient nature of an MK life and the diverse experiences it brings.

 

As the current Administrative Coordinator for Compass Ministries, Spenser has honed his skills in organization and coordination, laying a strong foundation for his role with Interaction International. Clower will split his time between the two organizations, thus allowing both to benefit from his exemplary work ethic. Now, as he steps into the role of Office and Events Coordinator at Interaction, he’s eager to delve even deeper into organizing the details for programs for MKs/TCKs, providing them with a safe space to unpack their past and present.

 

“My experience volunteering as MK staff at various Transit Lounge programs has been immensely rewarding,” Spenser reflects. “Now, to be a bigger part of that process with Interaction International is truly exciting.” His enthusiasm is unmistakable.

 

Clower’s journey into the world of missionary work runs deep within his family roots. “My sister and I were born to a missionary family working in Brazil and are second-gen MKs,” he explains, tracing the threads of his heritage. “Since my dad is also an MK to Brazil, it feels like missions runs in our blood.” He fondly recalls the legacy of his grandparents, first-generation missionaries who played a pivotal role in founding a theology seminary, their impact rippling through generations.  One of his favorite roles within his family is that of being an uncle.

Funcle Spenser
Spenser and his nieces

 

In his new role at Interaction International, Spenser is poised to weave together his cultural heritage, personal experiences, and professional skills to create meaningful experiences for MKs/TCKs under the umbrella of Interaction International. Whether it’s coordinating events that foster community, providing administrative support, or simply offering a listening ear, he’s committed to serving with dedication and empathy.

Spenser Away from the Desk

But there’s more to Spenser than his professional endeavors. His adventurous spirit extends to his bucket list destinations, which include exploring the Great Barrier Reef, soaking in the history and landscape of Germany’s castles, and marveling at the natural beauty of Switzerland. “I’ve always been drawn to landscapes,” he admits with a grin.

 

Outside of work, Spenser indulges in a diverse array of hobbies. From capturing the beauty of nature through landscape photography to tending to his aquarium, his passion for the natural world is evident. He’s also an avid volleyball player and a keen gardener, constantly on the lookout for new plants to nurture and grow.

 

As Clower embarks on this new chapter with Interaction International, he carries with him the spirit of adventure, resilience, and compassion that define his journey. With his quiet but infectious enthusiasm and unwavering dedication, he’s set to leave an indelible mark on the lives of MKs/TCKs, helping them towards a brighter and more connected future.

 

In the tapestry of Interaction International’s mission, Spenser’s adds a new steadiness of heart and quiet enthusiasm, enriching the narrative with his unique perspective and unwavering commitment to fostering community and support for MKs/TCKs worldwide.