13. Cross-Cultural Planning

Gill Cheffy, Kezia Schoonveld

Families who work cross-culturally are faced with adapting to multiple cultures – those of the host and passport countries and the sub-cultures of the expatriate community, mission agency and schools.

School culture is a particularly strong factor for children who board. It is important to respect and honour both the host and passport cultures as the children need both for their sense of identity. The attitude of parents towards these cultures is crucial.


  • During pre-field and on-field orientation the parents should be taught about vital core values and they should plan and establish their own family core values based on that. The children need to know what these values are.
  • Parents need to decide what expectations they have for their children and be realistic in those expectations.
  • It is important to have local friends and advisers who can help out when there are cultural clashes.
  • The attitude of parents towards local and passport cultures is extremely important. Avoid criticism in front of the children and bear in mind that decisions on use of local transport, eating local food etc are part of shaping attitudes.