The Foreign Service Journal, June 2021

58 JUNE 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT to quantify the many interrupted rites of passage and milestones missed. In international schools, many stu- dents moved back to the United States, unexpectedly, or on to new countries. Those who did not move, the “stayers”— a term coined by child psychologist Dr. Doug Ota, who studies attachment in international school transitions—had their struggles, too, as they witnessed their friends and teachers suddenly depart, leaving them behind. in the international school world were all experiencing “the washing machine of transition” at the same time their students and families were. FS kids who were stateside at the start of the pandemic endured the sudden scramble to figure out how to put entire educational systems online, a heroic effort by teachers and administrators. Students were heroic as well, as they struggled to adapt and faced canceled games, proms, performances and other much-anticipated events. Many counseling professionals were concerned, though, about the students’ loss of attachment to those in a school community whose role is to help kids feel safe and secure. Such a sudden transition from what was considered “The Washing Machine of Transition” For many Foreign Service kids, there was no chance to say goodbye at the end of the school year, leading to a tremen- dous sense of loss without closure. What’s more, few students and families possessed the language to talk about transition. As one international school coun- selor commented in a recent webinar for school personnel, those personnel living It would be impossible to quantify the many interrupted rites of passage and milestonesmissed.