Greetings from snowy Washington DC! It’s a far cry from my location last year when we still lived in the desert landscape of Dubai in the UAE. I clearly have forgotten a few things about living with the snow, since moving away 3 years ago, such as: shovel the pathway out of your house while the snow is soft...NO MATTER WHAT!
This past weekend, we got a lovely blanket of snow. The kids had fun playing outside, while I enjoyed sitting by the warm fire. But we all forgot to shovel the snow! By the time we emerged the next day, that beautiful snow had refrozen in the night into a treacherous slippery sheet of ice. We had to tip toe ever-so carefully to get from our door to the road without falling. Lesson learned!
One of the fun and challenging parts of moving around the world is learning how to navigate the particular landscape of each place we land in. I’ve learned the best thing I can do is pay close attention to what my neighbors are doing. So when I walked out the day after the snowstorm last week, I noticed every single of my neighbors had neatly shoveled their walkways and could walk safely out of their houses without fear of slipping (unlike us!).
Similarly, I learned in my first few weeks of driving in Dubai, NOT to park in the one school parking lot space which happened to be empty of cars (but full of sand) because your car might get stuck in that sand (as of course mine did – which is why no one else had parked there!). (Note to self: Dubai's very modern infrastructure and skyline sits atop a very sandy desert!).
Our family is still recalibrating to the skill set needed to live back home in the US. Every place we go, it seems, that skill set needs to expand, because each part of the world is unique. So wherever we are, I try to watch what the locals are doing and remind my children to do that too! It’s a good cultural (and landscape) lesson for us all.
I'm finally resurfacing after a summer of transition: We returned to home base in Washington DC after our 3-year assignment in Dubai, routing via Kenya for a wildlife safari (definitely the highpoint of the summer!)
Safari Highlight: Watching a cheetah stealthily hunt a gazelle!
Take home message: Everything is fair game in Nature!
For our children (now teenagers), this latest chapter in our global adventure was a chance to learn about life in a Muslim country ruled by an absolute monarchy, neither of which we’d experienced before. They experienced the reality of living in a desert landscape where water and shade are scarce, the sun is HOT, and sand is endless, and they saw what's possible, even in such a tough environment, if you have determined leaders with a vision. Most importantly, they made friends with kids who shared new perspectives – mostly Arab, British, South Asian, Palestinian at their international school – on everything from social trends to new foods and celebrations to politics.
It was a tearful goodbye for us all, but I always feel that’s the sign of a good cultural experience - that we made meaningful connections in a new part of the world which will stay with us long after we board the plane. Those connections have been the true gift of exploring the world with our kids; now we move onto discovering what awaits in our home country in the US…
Ambika Anand Prokop is a teacher, environmental planner and mom. She has lived with her family in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States, and she loves creating opportunities for kids to engage with the many fantastic cultures and landscapes of our planet!