Within the last few weeks, I've received a few emails from 2-3 different ex-pats who are living in or moving to Cheonan with their small children. This can be a pretty scary event if you don't already know people in Cheonan. Both families were pretty nervous about finding childcare and English speaking children for their children to play with.
We didn't have quite as much nervousness because we were coming to KNU, which has a fairly large community of ex-pats and a strong support network. However, lots of these families are coming into isolated situations where they are the only ex-pats at their job site. Many also expect that they are the only ex-pats with kids in Cheonan. Over all the feelings tend to be fear, isolation, and helplessness.
Our friend Elena started a mom's play group, where parents with small children can gather and speak in English and let the children play freely. We have recomended this to the families who have called.
However, I am starting to wonder if we need a more organized network for ex-pat or multi-ethnic families living in Cheonan. Maybe we need some more support networks and opportunities for socialization and discussion of how we do parenting here. Maybe we need some education about how to raise kids in another culture. I don't know what's next, but I'm beginning to think we need something more. Is anyone out there interested in helping with this?
One other interesting point, over the last few week's I've met several ex-pats who are working in Cheonan as engineers. This is a new crop of ex-pats for us. Until now, almost all ex-pats in Cheonan have fit into other categories: spouses of Koreans, English teachers, factory workers, and students. We still don't have the last category: US military.