Intro: names, ages or kids, where are you from, what did you do before moving abroad, how long have you been abroad, where have you lived thus far and how long in each place, what do you currently do for income.
We are the Andersons! Mom is Natalee, Jasmine (12yrs), Kaylee (just turned 11), Layton (7yrs) and Dad is Ike! Mom and dad were born in Jamaica but all kids were born and raised in West Palm Beach, FL! We are both digital marketing entrepreneurs who have the ability to work remotely while we travel.
We have been abroad for 10 months doing what we call “slow travel” we spend on average 1 month in each country.
We have lived in:
UK (London, Scotland & Ireland)
Cyprus & Athens Greece
2. What was the deciding factor to pack up and leave the states?
We feel as if a vast amount of who we are is influenced based on our culture and environment. We wanted to give our children the experience of travel to foster their own unique view of the world instead of just what we tell them or what they see on the television. Two years ago, based on a DNA test we did and us tracking our families’ lineage and history, we decided that this is something we wanted to explore. Here is a summary of what we came up with:
1) To become closer as a family! Through this journey we seek to strengthen the bonds of our family and learn new things about each other
2) Nurture a mindset of openness – By experiencing many different things in different cultures, we hope to foster open minds and open hearts to learn and grow in new ways
3) Connect with our Ancestry – We hope to learn about the paths our ancestors may have taken, understand where we came from and connect with these places on a deeper level
4) Experience and explore the world through our own lens – We each view the world through our unique perspective. We would like to experience, explore and grow our perspectives in as many ways as we can to become more holistic individuals
5) Based on the current climate and tension around race relations in the US, we wanted to give the children a broader outlook
6) Have Fun – While this is a journey of development and learning, we intend on having some major fun! Playing on the beach, trying new foods and meeting new people are on the bucket list!
3. Were your children homeschooled prior to the move abroad?
Prior to the move, the children were enrolled in traditional schools. The younger two in elementary and our oldest was in middle school.
4. How have they adjusted to the move? Positives? Negatives?
Once we decided this was the path we wanted to pursue, we began discussing the plan with the children along with what to expect or how their lives would change. We strongly believe this open dialogue made a world of difference in how well they adjusted. The children have adjusted in their own unique ways since they all have different personalities and coping mechanisms. For example, our son was a super picky eater! No meat, nothing mixed, and only a small selection of the same foods. Now he eats whatever we provide and more! They have improved in being more aware of what is going on around them. Each child has adjusted to being far more responsible for his/her own personal belongings.
One of the negatives which we have since turned into a positive, is we get many stares! Some places have very little to no black people, especially families. There is a general interest in who we are and it starts with a long awkward stare most times. This was especially difficult for our older daughter since she seems to pick up on peoples’ energies and emotions very easily. We have to be cognizant of this with her.
After some time of being away from the states they missed simple things that for us adults are insignificant. They had to adjust to live without favorite stores like Carvel, Target, Justice and Chick-fil-a (Even though grandma saved the day several times with surprise care packages).
Overall their adjustment has been pretty commendable. They are well behaved…we’re told…lol but I think the main lesson is to look for opportunities to learn in all situations and create meanings that empowers each other instead of things being negative! When complains starts, we ask if it could mean something else which usually changes the mood.
5. As parents of 3 young black children, what do you hope your children will gain from living abroad versus the states?
We are a product of our environment and in some cases our perspectives and thoughts are based on such, and with that thought, we wanted to give them the effects of different experiences and exposures to use as a tool in their tool box of life! Natalee and I have had the experience of living in Jamaica for approximately 14 years, so we see the value in cultural and life experiences in our own living and wanted to give them something similar.
We hope that they gain a deep-rooted value of self, a natural love for humans worldwide and an unquenchable desire to dig deeper and seek answers for their questions, rather than accepting what they’re told. We want them to grasp the concept that we can create the lives we want by having the courage to push past our fears and making an intention a reality.
6. What impact did visiting/living in Africa have on your kids? Was it eye-opening for them in your opinion?
I think we can separate Africa in two parts!
Egypt – It was important for the kids to know that people who looked like them created the Pyramids and many of the iconic teachings and things most people consider to be Egyptian. They learned about Kemet (before it was called Egypt) and their belief systems and how we utilize those today. Going to Southern Egypt was also very impactful, because this is where most of the history is preserved and we can see clear depiction of our history. From a historical perspective, this taught them and us the true history and not just what someone told us in school.
Ghana – We spent a solid month connecting to the various cultures and people there! The children learned about the history, not often mentioned, of the land prior to slavery. About kings, queens and numerous resources native to the land. They did also learn of slavery and how it affects us today since a descendant of ours came through that area a few centuries ago (Based on our unique DNA profile)! Paying respects to the ancestors and having them being a part of the process was powerful. During the process, I had an emotional moment and all the kids came over and just hugged me! They have never seen their dad cry! This was powerful also in the sense they knew what was happening and was able to hold space for who they call their hero to be supported.
They also spent time in an orphanage for a few days helping out, so this was a good experience for them contributing to a cause greater than themselves and feeling fulfilled.
Finally, we wanted them to see that Africa/Ghana had a really nice well-established side and not just huts and people walking around in loin clothes like the media would like to depict in the west. We spent time in the Accra going to the Mall, meeting up with other families, going to the homes of some of the locals which seemed like we were back in America and no difference, in regards to quality, or how they thought. So many other insights but just a synapsis of a few things for reference!
7. Can you offer any helpful tips to other parents exploring this idea?
Absolutely! And there are so many, so we will summarize what we think might be a good start!
If and when you decide to world travel, everything will come up, between the decision and leaving for you not to go, so you have to commit to the journey and get clear on your ultimate purpose for doing it!
Decide whether you will be slow traveling or fast traveling. We have found that slow travel is much cheaper as you can negotiate better rates on accommodations, see and experience more and get to learn the ropes as a local and not just a tourist who’s in transit.
If this is a bit scary but exciting, try doing 2-3 months at a time to see how it works for your family. All kids are different and handle uncertainty differently! We have traveled extensively during the summers since they were babies, so they have built up the resilience needed to cope.
RTW (round the world ticket) vs book as you go. We utilized a hybrid. Will you book all your flights in advance or will you book as you go? Both have their pros and cons, but know there is an option where if you ended up in a country you really didn’t like, you can get on the next flight out instead of sticking to an existing booking.
Shots and medical: Some countries will require you to get shots. You should consult with your physician first and decide what works for your family. We opted for the bare basics of a half portion of the yellow fever shot and that’s it. We think everything else had some crazy side effects that we didn’t want to expose the kids to! We wore light long sleeve at nights when we are out for precaution, only drank sealed bottle water, no ice at restaurants. Ten months in and we haven’t had not even a cough!
Homeschooling/Unschooling or Hybrid – Do you have a structured education plan for the child(ren) or will you allow them to flow with the education through the experience without a structured curriculum? Each child is unique so you will have to create a blend that works for your child. We used a 70% unschooling and 30% homeschool option for our eldest. She has been pushed for a long time in all accelerated courses and was clearly stressed with what seemed like college work in 6th grade. Our middle child loves structure and craves routine, so we were at 90% homeschool and the rest free learning!
These are just some things that came to mind! If you had specific questions or needed elaboration on any of the points mentioned, we would be more than happy to elaborate.