Yesterday evening, when the kids went to bed, Daniela chatted wit Sammy. She asked him if he cried yesterday and he said yes. He also said that he felt like a stranger. He did take note of the fact that the Indian kids went out of their way to invite him to play with them. Today, it appeared to be different. He has made two friends; Rohan, a boy from Oregon (of NRI parents) who has only been in India for a couple of months and another boy, who’s name Sammy can’t remember. This inability to remember names is a common thread. Charlotte also has some trouble remembering names of friends at school. Daniela and I share this for that matter. Anyway, Sammy no longer feels foreign. This is very interesting. Sammy and Charlotte were essentially welcomed with open arms. I would have expected a difficult period as they had to penetrate cliques.
How much of this is India and how much is the fact that they are at an international school at play?
Many of the kids – Indians included – have lived in the US and many are American passport holders. Just because a kid looks like any local, does not mean that they themselves are not foreigners. Sammy’s new friend Rohan is an example. There are also kids from the UK and other places. There is a boy from the UK and a girl from Germany (from Schriesheim, about 1/2 an hour from our house in Rotenberg. Daniela and I both have colleagues who live there) in Sammy’s kindergarten class. Charlotte’s new buddies include a girl from Peru and a Sikh girl. Having so many kids from such a diverse background – everyone is either from somewhere else or is a minority – that it promotes acceptance of others.
Then there is an Indian trait that I have noticed. They don’t seem to have the concept of the acquaintance as we westerners do. We often hold people in our circle of friends in the “acquaintance” category and reserve the real friendship for a select few. Indians seem less prone to keeping others at arm length and a perfectly happy to regard people as friends that we westerners would hold in acquaintance purgatory. Their monkey spheres are simply larger it seems. When a new kid enters kindergarten, he is introduced as a “new friend”. If a westerner says that they have 50 close friends, other westerners will regard that person as shallow and probably lacking in any “real” friends. Indians probably have more “real” friends than that.