"A Safe Harbour"

Throughout the school year, American School of The Hague welcomes new students, families and teachers into its international community. To help ease the transition process, a unique and internationally recognized transitions program was established many years ago and still supports families and staff. The program, “A Safe Harbour”, isn’t just one program or one person, it is an umbrella network of teachers, students and parents working together to help each of the community members with all of the aspects of arriving, orientating, integrating and departing. It provides a comprehensive approach to addressing the challenges and opportunities that arise with moving among cultures.
 
“A Safe Harbour” committees work together to help students, parents, and staff cope with the challenges, and maximize the opportunities, inherent in the experience of international relocation and cross-cultural mobility. 
 
The committees are:
  • Expat Life Experience: addressing the various transitional phases that individuals pass through and identifying challenges faced as expats, Third Culture Kids and Global Nomads.
  • Student Ambassadors: 60 students, Grades 9 – 12, who help run New Student Orientation in August and any intakes during the school year, as well as communicating with new students prior to their arrival.
  • Regular Parent Welcome Coffees: held by the Parent Teacher Organization and their various committees to give new parents an opportunity to expand their social network within the school and feel more at home in The Netherlands.
  • Staff Ambassadors: helping new staff transition to ASH, checking-in with new hires throughout the school year to make sure they are settling in well.
The key to a good arrival is a good departure, no matter where you go in the world, which is why A Safe Harbour initiatives also support students, parents and staff when departing from the American School of The Hague community. The joint efforts of parents, staff and students are what make the ASH community flourish.
 
A Safe Harbour – bridging cultures, bridging lives.
This poem was written by ASH Alumni Anicka Slachta, Class of 2012, as a reflection of her life as a third culture kid [TCK]. We hope it will inspire you, as it has the community at American School of The Hague.

I Am From, by Anicka Slachta

“I’d rather keep it as a beautiful memory – tucked away in my heart.”
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

I am from unbearable heat –
Heat I don’t remember.
I am from a part of my life that
seems like it would be hard to forget –
A whirlwind of hijabs, city lights,
and unspoken trepidation.
But, too young,
It’s been lost on me.

I am from the hottest days
and the hardest rainfalls,
Dressing in silk, illuminating elaborate lanterns,
and receiving red packets
filled with chocolate coins.
From a little brown book where, stroke after stroke,
I perfected characters that have
long since been forgotten.
From palm trees and flawless beaches.
Paradise.

I am from narrow, impossibly unpronounceable streets
and my black bicycle,
From vibrant Saturday markets
to delicately lit, cinnamon-scented Christmas fairs.
From cities so filled to the brim with history
That my “historical” college campus
somehow lost its luster quickly.

I am from long walks on Christmas Day
along cobblestone streets,
Flushed cheeks from the cold and chills
that only a yuletide fire could cure.
From dusting my clothes with flour
when I go a little crazy with the sugar-cookie-cutting.
From being eighteen years old
and still loving nothing more
Than curling up next to my mother
and thumbing through our favorite picture books.

I am from bright lights and late nights
in my dormitory,
Work, work, work, play, work.
I am from laughing and smiling
as much as I possibly can,
But still being unable to feign
a grin when my friends visit their families.

I am from compressed air and,
after sixteen years,
Still feeling my heart drop
at the slightest signal of turbulence.
From rushing off of the plane
and running through the airport
Because I am about to see my parents
for the first time in five months.

But I am from a family that is strong.
I am from the most incredible parents
who dared to dream, dared to leave
And created a life for me that has
put so much in perspective.
I am from no particular city, or state, or country.
I am from the world,
Because the world has truly welcomed me
wherever I have ventured.

I am from unending, unconditional love
that could never be replaced
By any sum of money.
I am from support, dreams, ambition, a future
from a little blue passport with a gold emblem
that holds my ticket to the world.

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The mission of A Safe Harbour is to help students, parents, and staff cope with the challenges, and maximize the opportunities, inherent in the experience of international relocation and cross-cultural mobility.

Learning happens best in a community of emotional safety and in a climate of mutual support, as "transitions" are challenges that face us all.

University preparatory program for ages 3-18. Fully accredited by the Council of International Schools and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

American School of The Hague