Transition, Training, and the Foreign Service Child

Moving again? In order to make the best educational choices for our children, it is important to understand the effect a mobile lifestyle has on them. Experts on the effects of international mobility on adolescents note that young people who spend a significant length of time out of their own culture develop a culture of their own. The new culture is made up of what they bring from their home (or their parents' home) culture intermingled with those cultural cues and experiences from the other cultures in which they have lived. Sociologist Ruth Hill Useem uses the term Third Culture Kid (TCK) to describe young people who live the Foreign Service lifestyle. All who live abroad are changed by the experience.

The adjustment to life overseas is not without difficulties for some young people. The Foreign Service family needs to plan carefully, set realistic expectations for all family members, and be ready to identify and handle problems as they happen. Children and adolescents often adjust quickly and happily to life overseas. Often the overseas community is smaller and more welcoming, although this varies from post to post,.

The FLO publication Bouncing Back: Transition and Re-entry Planning for the Parents of Foreign Service Youth was written to provide parents with guidance on how to help their child transition to the U.S. The publication, which is the revised version of According to My Passport I’m Coming Home, includes research and resources from professionals in the field of youth mobility and was written by adults and children who experienced the Foreign Service lifestyle first hand.

Foreign Service Youth Foundation

The Foreign Service Youth Foundation (FSYF) is a 501 (c.)(3) non-profit organization providing advocacy, information, educational training opportunities, and programs for Foreign Service youth and their families. FSYF addresses the challenge of the internationally mobile lifestyle and the effect it has on children. This support is extended to youth and their parents in the Washington, DC area, as well as at posts abroad.

The Foreign Service Youth Foundation (FSYF) was established in 1989 with seed money from the Una Chapman Cox Foundation and through the collaborative efforts of the Department of State's Family Liaison Office (FLO), the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW), and the Foreign Service Institute's Overseas Briefing Center (OBC).

FSYF participates in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) and you may designate to CFC #39436 (2011) in support of Foreign Service young people. FSYF depends on private contributions to continue to offer innovative programs for FS youth.

Contact Information

Foreign Service Youth Foundation (FSYF)
P.O. Box 39185
Washington, D.C. 20016
Tel: 301-404-6655

Transition Center Classes

The Foreign Service Institute Transition Center offers courses for Foreign Service youth:

The Transition Center also offers courses for adults, including Encouraging Resiliency in the Foreign Service Child and Raising Bilingual Children.

The Annual Foreign Service Youth Awards Ceremony

Every July, the Family Liaison Office and the Foreign Service Youth Foundation (FSYF) plan the annual Foreign Service Youth Awards Ceremony. The ceremony honors FSYF contest winners and children whose parents are serving at unaccompanied posts. The formal, invitation-only, event has taken place in the Benjamin Franklin room on the 8th floor of the Main State building and is hosted by the Director General of Human Resources. Each year, the children of Foreign Service employees receive awards from company sponsors for their art, video production, essay writing, environment awareness, and community service.

Since 2006, the Department has distributed medals and certificates of recognition to children of parents serving overseas on unaccompanied assignments. This year, more than 500 children have received medals and certificates.

Additional Resources

  • TCK Research - features an article by Dr. Ruth Useem, one of the foremost experts in the field of TCK research.
  • Interaction International - Interaction International is dedicated to "Working cooperatively as a catalyst and resource in the development of programs, services, and publications to provide and contribute to an ongoing flow of care that meets the needs of third-culture kids (TCKs) and internationally mobile families."


FLO Weblinks for Transition, Training, and the Foreign Service Child

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