Not just a day job
“We really feel passionate about serving third culture kids and giving them an excellent education,” say Malcolm and Rebecca Pirie. In July they moved from Bingham Academy, Ethiopia, to Hope International School in Cambodia, where Malcolm is Head of Curriculum.
As a couple they met while teaching in Cambodia in 2004. Their idea then was that teaching missionaries’ children would be pretty much the ‘day job’ with ministering to local Khmer people as their real heart involvement.
“However, God had a different plan! He introduced us to these amazing kids at Hope and taught us about a special group of people called TCKs — children raised in a culture outside their parent’s culture for a significant part of their development years.” After two years Piries heard about Bingham Academy and Malcolm became elementary principal for five and half years. And now they’re back in Cambodia — which makes the logistics of being accessible to extended family in Australasia easier.
They came back with excitement and some trepidation; in their absence Hope school had grown four-fold and become three campuses, two in Phnom Penh and one in Siem Reap. Cambodia has also changed a lot. “We’ve noticed that we blend in more! Every day 10 years ago we’d hear ‘Barang! Barang!’ — the word for foreigner.” Over the past decade a thriving tourist industry has burgeoned and services have increased. There are now shopping malls; foreign-run restaurants; more paved streets. “The poverty in Addis Ababa was much more confronting than here; in Phnom Penh the poverty seems more hidden,” Rebecca says.
A big challenge in making such a move is the loss of friends. “We left behind in Ethiopia our closest friends, people who have lived life with us, raised kids with us and been our family away from family. It’s been tough at times, but we know transition is a phase and it passes. Before you know it you are finding your feet and learning how to thrive in a new setting. Please pray for the kids and us establishing new friendships.”
The Piries have loved seeing two of their former students back working and volunteering at Hope. In 2004-6, Ruth’s parents were working with the Hagar ministry and Kia’s parents were serving in an agricultural project connected with CMS. “As we returned this year we learned that Ruth was taking up the position of guidance counsellor. Kia is doing a gap year at Hope, helping with physical education. Both girls loved their experiences of Hope — it was encouraging to see the amazing TCKs they have become.
“We think of ourselves as a pretty typical Kiwi family of five,” Rebecca says, “but with three great kids who have spent most of their childhood growing up in Addis Ababa. I’ve been thinking about our kids’ safety recently as we now adapt to a new culture. I think the key is to live safely where you are; what would be safe to do in one city would be silly in another. In Ethiopia we taught them to always lock the door while in the car. In Cambodia, it’s to watch out for hot mufflers when getting off a motorbike!”
For Malcolm to work out how best to use his skills to help Hope International School to develop and consolidate after a time of rapid growth.
For Rebecca to finish her block of language school and find a role best suited to her at Hope.
For safety & friendships for the family