Transition and Reentry


The transition out of high school and into either college or the work force is difficult for everyone. Even students raised in the US find themselves facing new challenges and undergoing major life changes during this period. But MKs will be facing another monumental transition: that of reentering into American culture after leaving their home on the field. All of these changes can be overwhelming for students and parents alike. AGWM and ISMK are here to help.

To smooth this transition process, preparation for reentry should begin long before the plan leaves the tarmac on its way to America. Be intentional about preparation. RAFT is an acronym for some concrete actions that should be taken prior to departure to help smooth transition times. It was developed by David Pollock of Interaction, Inc. By intentionally following the RAFT plan, , MKs and families can create a ―life RAFT‖ to help them navigate a potentially tumultuous transition period.

Reconciliation involves taking time to think of any open-ended relationships MKs might have. For example, if they have been arguing with someone, it is vital that they resolve the conflict before leaving. Reconciliation is important because leaving without resolving issues cause the issue to fester, and the lack of closure can be emotionally taxing later on. Reconciliation can range from just returning marbles that were borrowed to resolving an ongoing conflict.

Affirmation involves finding those important people in life and letting them know either how much they are loved or will be missed. Affirmation is important since the MK may not return to the same country or see the same person again.

Farewells are also very important. Take the time to say farewell to people, to places, to things and to traditions. In addition to verbal farewells, taking pictures of friends, places, and pets can also help. Saying goodbye to the family’s favorite restaurant, the house workers, the cook at church, friends, vehicles, or school can help bring a sense of closure.

Think Destination. Take time to discuss thoughts and feelings about the new location. Gather information about the new destination; school, city, state, etc. Look at photos of the school, the dorms, new apartments, etc. The more realistic the expectations, the less dissatisfaction you will experience if the expectations aren’t completely met upon arrival.

(Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds, David C. Pollock & Ruth E. Van Reken, pg. 181-182.). 

Reentry Seminars

High school graduate MKs are eligible to participate in the MuKappa (a ministry of Barnabas International) or Interaction re-entry programs prior to their first year of college in the United States. The seminar fee and the cost of travel to and from the seminar is a one-time only expense, can be paid from the parents’ (00) account and will accumulate as taxable income.

The MK Office recommends that graduated seniors to attend this seminar rather than Missionary Renewal. Missionary Renewal is designed for MKs still in high school and doesn’t deal with the important topics these seminars cover in depth. Taking part in a reentry seminar will be especially beneficial for your MK for the following reasons:

  • Reentry after graduation will be the most permanent transition your MK will make: If an MK wishes to return to missions, it will most likely take a minimum of eight years to do so with college, pastoring, and itineration. Therefore, MKs need to focus on a long-term adjustment to life in the United States.

  • The U.S. culture is different than it was four years ago.

  • College and work are both new sub-cultures to which MKs will have to adjust.

  • This will most likely be an MK’s first transition without their parents.

During the seminars, MKs are able to do group activities and receive personal counseling to treat any individual concerns they may have about the transition. Please note, the seminars do fill up on a first come — first serve basis, so if interested, sign up right away. 

Barnabas International (MuKappa):

Barnabas International hosts MuKappa Reentry seminars once a year. This retreat, designed for high school graduates, will provide insights, activities and seminars aimed at transitioning into life in the United States. Students will have opportunities to connect with other missionary/third-culture young adults as well as experienced staff as they prepare for the next journey in life. For more information or to register (be sure to verify deadlines), visit their website The average cost for the seminar is $400.

Interaction International:

For almost 30 years Interaction International has been preparing adolescent Third Culture Kids through their Transition Seminars. The content is designed to be interactive, fun, insightful and if applicable, healing.

The average cost per is $475 per MK. The dates for their 2018 Transition Seminar are July 21-27. For more information or to register visit,