Transitioning to a New “Home”

For many, the end of the semester signals a long, sigh of relief. Finally— the end of exams, the end of studying, the end of your exhausting internship.

But for some of you, the end of this semester will be a significant transition. It may mean leaving the campus, city, or even the country that you’ve begun to call home. It may mean returning to your country of origin or starting over in another new place. It may mean saying goodbye to loved ones as you close out a chapter of your life.

Whatever your situation, transition can be challenging. I hope we can help you prepare for it.

The late Dr. David C. Pollock researched and wrote extensively on cross-cultural transition. One of his transition strategies is something he called “Building a RAFT”. Here’s an overview of the first half of the RAFT transition process and how you may be able to use it. We will look at the second half next week.

R: Reconciliation

Reconciliation is repairing or restoring damaged or strained relationships.

Are there broken relationships in your life with someone from your time here in the States?

Even as we move on to a new place and develop new relationships, the ones from the past continue to affect us–for better or for worse! It is healthy and wise to mend these relationships while we have a chance. Unresolved anger or shame caused by another person acts like a poison, making us bitter over time. Your transition will be much smoother and healthier if you try to resolve and reconcile now.

Your role in seeking reconciliation in a broken relationship might be one of two positions: asking for someone’s forgiveness or extending forgiveness to someone who has hurt you. Either way, pursuing reconciliation means approaching the person with humility.

In the Bible, it says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” This teaches us that it is important to forgive others and to ask for forgiveness because God forgave us.

Is there someone with whom you need to seek reconciliation? Is tension between you and your roommate or a classmate that you need to forgive? What can you do to try to restore the relationship?

A: Affirmation

Affirmation is another way of saying “encouragement”.

Who had an impact on you or been your closest or most reliable friend? Who are the people in your life that you are most thankful for? Before you say goodbye to them, take the time to tell them why you are thankful for them! You can write a letter, tell them in person, or even send them a gift and include a meaningful note.

This step of the RAFT may seem like it’s solely for the benefit of the person or people you are affirming. And it’s true people like to know that they are appreciated! But taking the time to affirm those you love (and will soon be saying goodbye to) is an important step for you, too! It will strengthen your relationships and help you transition with a heart of gratefulness rather than a heart of sadness.

Take some time to think about who you want to affirm, and let them know why you appreciate them.

Check out next week’s blog post for the final two steps of how to “build your RAFT”!


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