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Ideas for your stories 

Here are some ideas to write about for both children and adults. Teachers, please feel free to use these ideas as prompts for your students!

Who are you?
Cultural Confusion and Differences
Goodbye, Hello/Hello, Goodbye

Who are you?

  • What 'country' do you feel a part of and why?
  • What’s it like to feel a part of many nations and cultures? Which ones and how?
  • Do you sometimes get confused about how to describe where you are from? What do you say?
  • How are you ‘out of it’ culturally when you return to your ‘home country’ after being away for so long? What things don’t you know about?
  • What is it like when your child knows the new country’s language better than you do?
  • If you’ve come from a ‘mixed’ family, have you ever felt split between parts of your cultural background? How?
  • How has living in new countries changed the way you look at your ‘home’ country?
  • Have you ever felt discriminated against because of the color of your skin, the language you speak, the clothes you wear, the rituals and religion you follow?
  • How have you ever felt like a chameleon? When and how?
  • Do you look for parts of your ‘temporary’ countries when you go back to your ‘home’ country?
  • Did you ever feel like you had no choice about what was happening to you?
  • What is the role of the Internet and/or computer or video games in your life?

Cultural Confusion and Differences

  • Did you ever get lost because you didn't know the language?
  • Were you ever embarrassed because you didn’t know a cultural tradition, ordered the wrong food or bought the wrong thing at a drug, grocery and/or a convenience store?
  • How do you behave/talk differently with friends at International Schools than with parents/grandparents?
  • How are schools in different parts of the world different in discipline, in size, expectations etc.
  • Are there some funny things you’ve noticed when you re-enter your ‘home country’? Is there such a thing as ‘reverse culture shock’?
  • How is time different from one country to another? Are there places where people seem to have more or less time for sharing?
  • What objects are ‘sacred’ or special to you and what have you always brought from place to place? What makes them important to you?
  • What was it like to have to do household chores after having a maid?
  • As a parent, have you noticed differences in child rearing and behavioral expectations for your child? How have you adjusted, not adjust and/or been embarrassed?
  • Do you notice that schools in different countries have different expectations for parent participation and how?
  • Have you ever got in trouble at a dinner, business meeting, date, party etc. when the customs and traditions of a country were not quite understood?
  • Is dating difference from one country to another? How?
  • Have you ever felt conflicted by politics and/or war between a couple of countries where you had lived or were living?
  • Have you every noticed that saying ‘hello’ to strangers is either done or not done in different countries?
  • Have you noticed that treatment of the elderly is different from place to place?
  • Have you seen the differences in the way business has been conducted?
  • Have you noticed that the way the media covers stories from one country
  • Was there any moment when you realized something new about the world? About poverty? Ecology? Human relationships?
  • Do you as a teacher find a difference between teaching abroad and teaching in the US? How?

Goodbye, Hello/Hello, Goodbye

  • Any stories about saying ‘Good-bye’?
  • Were you ever the new kid at school? What was it like?
  • How do you ‘keep in touch’ in friends you’ve made?
  • Have you noticed how places and people change each summer when you return to the same house each vacation?
  • Did you sometimes not want become friends with people because you knew you were going to leave or you knew that they were going to go? Any you regret?
  • Do you remember any people who were helpful in your entry into a new culture? How did they help you?
  • Did you ever befriend someone at the beginning of your stay somewhere that was turned out to be a mistake?
  • What are the things you miss the most about places where you have lived?
  • Do you ever return ‘home’ and feel that you are ‘different’? In what ways do you notice that?
  • How are young kids, adolescents and/or teenagers different from one place to the other? Are they treated differently…given more or less freedom, incorporated or not in the ‘adult’ world, encouraged or discouraged to speak, for instance
  • Are there any mistakes and/or success that your parents made in helping you adjust from country to country?
  • What’s in like trying to establish new friends when you move to a new country?
  • In order to make friends, how have you ‘changed’ yourself to ‘fit-in’?
  • As a grown up, how have your adjustments to new places been difficult or funny?
  • Have you ever had to say good-bye to a pet? What was that like?
  • What was it like to be on a plane the first time?
  • Do you have a story about being told it is time to move…again?
  • As an adult, what do you go through as you are preparing to leave?
  • Kids, have you noticed your parents beginning to change when they are going to leave and if so how?
  • Have you left projects and/or relationships unfinished because you knew you were leaving soon? How?


  • As a parent, what kind of advice can you give to someone who has to tell their kids that they are moving? How can you help them make their children’s adjustment easier?
  • What kinds of things helped in you adjust to a new country?
  • As an adult, what stories do you have about trying to make friends?

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