by Jo Barnes –
It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child … but how would you feel about raising your child in a global village?
For local couple Bob and Deb Buschgens, their family journey overseas provided experiences that not only informed their daily lifestyle and strengthened the family bond, but forever shaped their children Mark and Michelle’s perspective on the world.
Their adventure began in 1995 in Yanbu Al-Sinaiyah, Saudi Arabia where Bob had accepted a position at an oil refinery.
“I was at a point in my career where I wanted to do something different and have a more global experience for my family,” shares Bob.
It was a significant move to a completely different location and culture and transformed each of them.
“Living in the Middle East took some adapting but the experience became a highlight in our lives,” says Deb.
Soon after arrival they realized they were in the minority and faced discrimination.
“It was a real eye opener for me, and I now have deeper appreciation for how minorities must feel in our country,” says Deb.
Living there brought daily challenges. Having no access to television or internet, the family created their own entertainment by inventing fun musicals. Without the availability of familiar foods, they learned to cook from scratch, substitute ingredients, and above all be flexible. Along the way they met other Western expatriates and forged new friendships.
“We became very close as a family living in the Middle East,” shares Deb. “I feel the kids learned to adapt to new situations and appreciate different cultures.”
Subsequent years brought more travel. After living in Saudi Arabia for five years, the Buschgens spent four years in Australia before returning back to the Middle East to Qatar where they lived until spring 2016. Growing up in different cultural settings shaped how the children viewed their world and approached others.
“The community in the Middle East was very multicultural, so I notice today that the kids have no hint of racial discrimination and get along with everyone. They just see people as people. I love that!” shares Deb.
Having to adapt to new situations and handle new adventures equipped the children with worthwhile life skills.
“I love how our kids treat people and how they go with the flow,” says Deb. “They are slow to offend and they tackle life with gusto, always looking for the way forward with integrity.”
Now grown, Mark and Michelle live far from their parents. Mark resides in Australia; Michelle calls Northern California home. Personal visits are rare. Communication is more likely to be done through avenues like Facebook, but the years of travel, adventure and cultural experiences laid the groundwork for close communication and strong personal ties.
“I love firstly that we have a close family. We all seem to ‘get’ each other and we can always talk openly and honestly with each other,” says Deb.
This family travelled far, but they took their sense of home with them. The bond they forged with each other in distant corners of the world remains today.
Says Deb: “Maintaining a relationship with the kids means everything, truly. They are such a blessing.”
The Buschgens have learned that even though their family is spread from Australia to Victoria, the global village they all live in has been made a bit closer through their unique shared experience.