Missionary and military families returning to the United States often feel overwhelmed. For many, especially children, their home country is the one in which they have spent the least amount of time. For others, their country is not the same as when they left.
To assist these families in reintegrating into the United States, Oklahoma Christian University is hosting Global Reunion 2012 from July 25 to July 29.
The camp is for those aged 13 and older. Directors Kent and Nancy Hartman, missionaries-in-residence at OC, give tools and resources to families that have lived outside the United States and are now seeking to reenter U.S. culture. The Hartmans spent more than 10 years as missionaries in Australia and were surprised by the challenges of reintegrating their family into America.
“For many military and missionary families, the children have lived their entire lives in a country other than the United States,” Kent Hartman said. “These children, commonly known as Third Culture Kids or TCKs, are not really reentering this country. Rather, they are entering a culture that may be home to mom and dad, but is actually unknown to the kids in many ways. TCKs have American parents, look and sound like Americans and are expected to know and understand an American culture that is foreign to them.”
The camp helps families make the journey from one culture to another, and it seeks to help them understand the challenges they will face. There are more than 70 participants from 20 countries in Global Reunion 2012, which is in its seventh year.
In addition to Oklahoma Christian, Global Reunion is co-hosted by InterMission, a group of former missionaries committed to supporting missionaries. InterMission was co-founded by the Hartmans and Memorial Road church of Christ. There is also an army of volunteers from local churches who provide meals for the campers.
According to Hartman, Global Reunion is the only camp of its kind in the world that combines classes for college-age and teen TCKs that also has classes for parents. It is also the only camp of its kind among churches of Christ.
“Global Reunion has put Oklahoma Christian on the map in missionary and military circles around the world,” he said. “We are often referred to in those circles as ‘the university that cares about missionary and military families’ and the place to send TCKs when they reach university age.”