graders at the American International School of Johannesburg
Welcome to a special section of stories from The American
International School of Johannesburg written after Marc Levitt's visit in spring 2011 and later in 2012/2013. Many thanks to Ms. Jillian Miller,
English teacher at the school for all of her great work!
My name is E.M.F. and I go to the American International School of Johannesburg. I would like to thank you for your work in creating this website for third culture kids. When my teacher told me about our project and your website, I immediately went to it. I can sincerely say that I think it helped me with my situation by reading other kid’s stories and about how they dealt with their problems. I’m very happy and excited to be able to share my own story and hopefully one day it will inspire, or help someone else with their own situation.
by Amritha A. “Why does this place look different”, I asked myself as I just arrived in a hot, tropical place called Jaffna, which is in Sri Lanka. I was dead tired from a ten-hour bus journey from Colombo to Jaffna. I was returning to Jaffna after seven long years. I just stared out to the massive crowd of Tamil... read more
by Fallon M. “We are moving to South Africa.” Those were the words my parents used to tell me that my entire life would be changing. I remember that day. It was a cold, frosty morning, much like those you see in movies when people look out the window and see the rain trickling down the window pane, feeding t... read more
by Ivette D. Imagine you’ve lived in a country for the first couple of years of your life and having learned how to correctly speak only in that native language. Now picture in your mind’s eye that you and your family are transferred to a different country located halfway across the planet. You are too young... read more
by Liam G. In 2011 I moved from Ottawa, Canada to Pretoria, South Africa. Before I moved, I had many concerns about living in Africa. My biggest concern was not being able to play ice hockey, one of Canada’s national sports. In Canada, almost everyone loves to play ice hockey and everyone is a fan of the sport... read more
by Mikaela M. It was a crisp afternoon in England, the idea of living anywhere else but this place I called home seemed so unreal. The thought of leaving my friends and family and moving to some strange land was a bit unsettling, I felt like I was leaving my whole life behind. There had already been so many chang... read more
by Jonathan R. In the U.S., lots of people play sports in middle school and high school. In Texas, everybody plays sports. Football and basketball are a part of life. There is practice five or six days a week during the season and games every other week. In my opinion, high school football is the biggest sport... read more
by ChanBin L.
It was a normal sunny day in Kenya. Well, it was too normal. I never thought the day would change my life. We were attending a ‘Koreans’ meeting at a hotel that a Korean director worked in. When everyone was in the karaoke, my dad called me out, saying that he had to tell me something. I got a fe... read more
by What Country Should I Call “Home”?
What country should I call home? This simple question has no simple answer. Is it where you are currently living? Where you were born? This question is getting more complex for people to answer, as careers, families, and life takes people from one place to another, to settle in a foreign place, or... read more
by Tshegofatso V.
“Awe, my ma se kind!” Was the very first sentence I heard that day. Yes I know, it wasn’t English, it was Afrikaans. It was slang in my school. The type of slang any South African could catch on. Slang that could start more than just a conversation. Anyway, the plan for today was just have fun... read more
by Lorenzo B.
I had been dreading this day, coming back, huh! I immediately understood why when I saw the rusted buildings that were almost falling apart from the sky, the place look ruined. I heard “Welcome to Maputo International Airport” , in my head I immediately translated that to something negative but ... read more
by Isabella S.
“What brings you to South Africa?” he says in a very cheerful voice with a thick accent that makes it hard for me to understand. The man at the Passport Control station looks at me carefully, as if I’m in disguise concealing harmful substances. I look back at him, not knowing whether to smile o... read more
by Min L.
I was having a wonderful time in South Korea without any trouble about English. I had a good grade, and life was keeping me on the right track that I have to go. One day, when I came back from school, instead having all the food on the table as usual, there were some people who were packing our f... read more
by Maria M.
Everything was happening all over again, in a very different way, but again. It feels like it was just yesterday that I went to Canada, moving for the first time to a new country. And it happened again, except for the fact that it is not for the first time, but it feels like it is.
I rememb... read more
by ChanBin L. It was a normal sunny day in Kenya. Well, it was too normal. I never thought the day would change my life. We were attending a ‘Koreans’ meeting at a hotel that a Korean director worked in. When everyone was in the karaoke, my dad called me out, saying that he had to tell me something. I got a feel... read more
by Jadyn A. My life has been about traveling. The first time I flew on a plane was when I was 8 weeks old, but I had never been out of the United States. I was always flying to places like California, Florida, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, and a lot more but I never left the United States. Until one day... read more
by Subhanshu T. My flight to South Africa was really stressful. It made me think really hard about my new life in my new school. Questions like what would the kids be like at the new school or how would the teachers be? So, I just slept on my whole plane ride. As the plane landed I saw that my aunt came to pick me... read more
by Carolina N. Amit is my best friend from the American International School in Cyprus. She is a shy, sweet, trustworthy friend. She is the very first person I had at my house for a sleepover. We had so much fun that my mom let her stay another night! Every time she came over for lunch, we would have our own litt... read more
by Nericia van N. What makes a person unique? Everyone has their own story about life but no matter what they will never be the same. Every little detail in a person’s life will be different. It could sound similar but will always feel and be remembered differently. In my life the last 14 years have been the same, ... read more
by Lize D. I’ve always detested the flight back from the US to South Africa. It’s boring and uncomfortable, but I have to admit that those long hours on board give you lots of time to think. My family and I were flying back from a holiday in Houston, Texas, which we were visiting because we used to live there... read more
by Will C. I watched the seat belt sign turn off when the plane slowly came to a stop. I stood up, stretching forcefully so that my body could adjust to standing. The pain shot up my body as I fell down on to my seat because of my numb feet. I had been on the plane for 18 hours straight and with little sleep. ... read more
by Jay S. Have you ever had too much of your favorite food? It isn’t good. I’ve had too much of my favorite place, South Africa. Every day waking up in the same old country. All these years I’ve been coping more or less but that was because we would leave and go on vacation for several weeks then I’d want to ... read more
by Darshan P. “The American school” I said.
“Yes” said my parents. “We have enrolled you already.”
“What” I said, “I can’t believe this, and I am so excited.”
“Your interview is tomorrow.”
I hug my dad, a short man full set of hair which has greyed slightly and pearly white teeth. I hug my mom, ... read more
by Edmée F. “Nd’ ga na olof?” the man said to me, my eyes misting over as I knew what his response would be to my answer. “No, no I don’t speak it” I replied by grinding my teeth together thinking it would calm me down.“ What! How can you be a Gambian, and not know your own language, you are not a true Gambian ... read more
by Caleb M. As I got off the plane from Atlanta to Kansas City I had many people shoot me strange looks, I wondered why and then I realized that I’m wearing shorts and a T-shirt. No wonder why people were looking at me like crazy, its 15 degrees outside! I quickly threw on my jacket and joined up with my family... read more
by Filip L. I was born and raised in Switzerland until I moved to South Africa where everything is different, especially the way business is conducted.
Already as I had settled into South Africa for about 5 months or so I saw and realized that everything was different. Here I go to a restaurant about once ... read more
by Lucian T. “We might be moving to Kenya,” my Dad announced in the car on our way to church. I giggled as I thought he was joking “for vacation right?” I replied. “No to live there because of my work,” I tried to argue with him but I chocked on my own words as I saw the seriousness in his eyes. A thousand thoug... read more
by Dillon H. The bus should be here any minute. I suddenly heard my dad coming down the hallway towards me. “Mornin…” he stumbled to say as this was not his normal time to wake up. “I just forgot to tell you that I will be picking you up from school at 1:30 today for a doctor’s appointment so be ready to leave” ... read more
by Alice P. Today I feel different; yes, I am fully aware that I am the new girl for the second time at the same school that I spent a week at last month, but no, it’s something else…something I don’t seem to get at first. It’s not the fact that I don’t have to wear a uniform to school anymore, or the fact that... read more
by Vilde R. There are steps you always take when you move. You don’t always realize it, but they are there. These steps are there to help you make your new country another home. I have had many homes and I always manage to create a new one each time I move. I do this by making friends. The better the friends, ... read more
by Ines De V. “Splash” I jump into the pool and the water hits me in the face. I see all the corners of the underwater world in my pool for only a split second until I swim back to the surface to take in the hot air that is distinct only to Congo. When I catch my breath, I see my mom and she tells me to come out.... read more
by Herschel J. As I opened my heavy eyelids to take a look at where I was, I could not believe it. I was back home after a year. The dust filled air, forced me to sneeze. The stench of garbage that spread all around, had assured me that I was back home after a year. It couldn’t possibly have been Zambia or South A... read more
by Sidhonie P. S. People ask me where I am from. It’s an easy question,’ Where are you from?’ but for some people around the world it’s a hard question to answer because the answer is long. I am one of those people.
When I was seven, people would ask me if I was from the Philippines, Malaysia, Korea, Thailand o... read more
by Chumani M. Every day a person may wake up and wonder will it ever end? Well I didn’t think about any of that, in fact I would ask myself what challenge lies ahead of every match. Cricket is a sport that I have always had a passion for, it gave me a sense of freedom outside of my own home. I felt like a super b... read more
by Nathanael W. We live and work in a constantly changing world, one which I have been fortunate enough to see from many angles. The world changes in many ways, politics, the economy, world relations, and so forth, however, the change that affects me and almost every other teenager around the world is the newest, ... read more
by Noah W. Have you ever lived so long away from your home country that you felt more adapted to another culture than your own? That was my dilemma. I was born in Connecticut, a small state within the United States of America. Here my father had worked for the company, Lilly, even though most of our family liv... read more
by Amira Y. “South Africa”! “What do you mean south Africa”? I shouted. The memory from that day still haunts me. I was looking out the window of the plane; my dad had just told me we would be landing soon. I was really anxious to be in a new country, with new people and new languages. I was glad that they didn... read more
by Julia R. “You live in South Africa? That’s incredible!” I was currently in the front yard of my cousin’s house in Vienna, Virginia, with my friends Gaby, Michaela, and Jena visiting my family for summer vacation, but my real home was in Pretoria, South Africa.
“What is it like there? Can you tell us about i... read more
by Nike K. I remember sitting in Germany on the veranda in the mild afternoon air with a fresh breeze carrying the scent of the daisies and roses in our neighbor’s garden. It had been a perfect day, a relaxed day in our village. I watched the wave motions from the wind across the tall grass in the field in fro... read more
by Rishni B. Changes can be hard and difficult but eventually it all usually works out.
I woke up to a typical chilly South African morning in August. I was in the bathroom staring at my face. My hair looked frizzy and my face looked patchy. This is not what I was aiming for as a first impression on my f... read more
by Keitumetse M. I remember my mother telling me of how she had heard of a very good school from my principal and said “I really do wish that my child can go there. It sounds like an amazing school, with so many opportunities” and from there on we never knew what was to come. Most of my friends tend to struggle with... read more
by Quinten H. Have you ever felt that when you leave a country, you think you won’t see again? That you’re old enough to realize you aren’t coming back? I felt powerless when my parents told me we had to leave the Netherlands and I’ll be moving to Pretoria, South Africa. Somewhere inside the family we knew we wo... read more
by Sina L. I just stared outside through the window when I sat on the plane. I couldn’t think of anything because of the tears which were rolling down my cheeks. I bit my lip as hard as I could to stop crying. Actually, I didn’t want to go South Africa. I thought South Africa was like a country of wildness, po... read more
by Erik S. The airplane was full of people all going in the same direction except for those few people who once in a while would stand up to go to the restrooms. I was sitting in my seat too tired to move and too bored to do anything else than sleeping since I didn’t know whatever it was night or day outside, ... read more
by Hadas V. Maya and Shai. It’s not a good idea to put them together. They are like baking soda and vinegar together, which means, an explosion! They are not really excited about seeing each other. I miss the beach, and also Shai, my best friend and my cousin Maya, which means I have to take them both with me t... read more
by Steven H. Outside the buildings it was shivering cold. Condensation happened everywhere, out of my mouth, nose and even the cars. The beautiful Korean winter had two faces: gorgeousness of shimmering cloud of snow covering the town, and painfulness of red frozen faces. However, this winter was even more appal... read more
by Bianca-Laura I. Often, feeling a part of a specific place is hard to imagine for me. Teenagers these days experience so much in their lifetimes, the thought of placing their ‘home’ country in a single box is very difficult to do. I guess we feel a part of numerous countries, cultures, and experiences (the ‘global v... read more
by Sebastian C I remember the first time it rained; I got soaking wet. We had never expected it to rain so much in Africa at first, but we got used to it. My brother said that it reminded him of the weather in the mountainous areas of Peru where we used to go to on quite a few holidays when we lived in Lima. It wa... read more
by Denise A. How long have I been gone from home?
I breathe in the fresh, humid air; the sky is cloudy, and I can slightly feel the sun tingle on my tanned skin. People are crossing in my path and nudging me. I can smell the hazy smoke coming from the dozens of taxis lined up outside — the temperature mak... read more
by S. Y. Kim I was born in South Korea and lived there for 7 years. I lived there with my mom, dad, and my younger brother. When my mom told me that we are going to U.A.E I didn’t even know where that place was. I thought that the UAE was somewhere near America, but I was way wrong. My mom had to tell me where i... read more
by John S. In the states for three months, it was a quick three months. I never wanted it to end. We all know that nothing can last forever. When that finally hit me, I was already on a plane back to Africa. First class the whole way, it was part of my dad’s new deal. I was moving back to Africa, this was noth... read more
by Daan S. I never thought it was real when my dad told me that we were leaving. It was a perfect summer day, it was warm and there were no clouds. We were at a public swimming pool when my dad’s new boss called him to ask his kids if they we fine with leaving Holland and going to South Africa. My father asked... read more
by David J. I was born in South Korea and lived there for 7 years. I lived there with my mom, dad, and my younger brother. When my mom told me that we are going to U.A.E I didn’t even know where that place was. I thought that the UAE was somewhere near America, but I was way wrong. My mom had to tell me where i... read more
by Yoona L. “We are moving to South Africa in less than a month, so be ready.” said my dad, when our family was gathered around watching TV. I could still remember his tone of voice and his face expression just like it was yesterday. I got scared when I heard those words, I didn’t want to move again. I didn’t ... read more
by Caelan R. Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, Boom. The grenade exploded and I narrowly missed death with only a little health left. It was a sunny afternoon and I was sitting in my brothers room playing my favourite game. I was disappointed yet exited to go to South Africa for id been living in the crowded city of... read more
by Minsuk H. The announcement came from the pilot, “We are landing in fifteen minutes, thank you for flying with us, and we hope to see you again.” However, in my ear, I heard, “We have good news and bad news. The good news is that, we are landing, but the bad news is that, we are CRASH landing”, the movie from ... read more
by Gabriela L. “She doesn’t speak English” I said. And it felt like the hundredth time. The man stared at me for a second and returned his look to my mom. Again, I thought. It happens every time we go out. It doesn’t matter how many times I say she doesn’t speak the language, they prefer to try to talk to her than... read more
by Shani A. My eyelids weighed a ton as I slowly lifted them to take in the sun. ‘Should’ve kept my eyes shut’ I thought to myself, as I noticed that the scenery hadn’t changed for the past four hours. 30 degree heat seeped into the Land Rover as I opened my window to have a clearer view of the Kenyan villagers... read more
by Michael M. “Can’t I just stay home and skip the first day, I’m going to be such an outcast”, I said to my mom on the morning of the first day at my new school. I hadn’t gotten a single minute of sleep the night before wondering about how I am going to act now in an International school. I had spent my entire l... read more
by Lou H. “Everyone seems so unfriendly here,” I said.
“It’s true but they are not. It’s just so different here from Tanzania,” my mum replied.
I nodded my head in agreement and we continued walking down the street. I am originally from Germany, I lived there for seven years before I moved to Tanzan... read more
by James N. “James, we are moving to South Africa.” My dad said. I couldn’t believe it. I had spent all the eleven years of my life in Canada, and now all of a sudden I was moving to South Africa. What were they thinking?
“Will we have to live in a shack like you see on TV?” I asked anxiously, never befor... read more
by Katherine W. My best friend, Mikki, who took reading lessons to work on her English, was told by the head masters wife to lose her American accent and speak in proper English.
Bam! As soon as Mikki told me that, I felt like somebody dropped a boulder on my head. When it happened, she was the new girl. Howe... read more
by Jacques R. I woke up one ordinary day. It was no different from any other. I did what I needed to do and when I was done, there was still no sun in sight. It was a dark day for what it seems like. I went to school, nothing seemed out of place. I the school day was the same as any other .I got to school before... read more
by Kishorkumar K. Life, such a peculiar thing, as the steps to the exit of the plane came closer, a gust of freezing cold wind blew across my tender skin; it felt as if small sharp needles were blown across my face, though it was refreshing. After the refreshing exit, my entrance to the U.K. was laid upon a dull, gre... read more
by Djordje P. I hate flying. I even detest airports. I don’t understand why people would fly, it is so long and… boring. Regardless, my parents took me all over the world, and that’s a lot of flying.
We arrived at the airport in Paris at around 5 AM, far too early for anything to be working. We picked up ou... read more
by Ian M. The first words I heard when i got home from school were "Ian we are moving to Singapore, its official!" I already knew this, but as a joke. As i set my bag down in the corner as i usually do, i smiled a confident, but nervous smile. I was shocked from what I heard, because I heard about Singapore f... read more
by Tristan B. South Africa is the place where my home is, but when someone asks me where I’m from, I will say, “I am American, but I've lived in Ann Arbour Michigan, but I also lived in Princeton, New Jersey and in Falls Church, Virginia.” So can I really say I am from one place? Maybe I will never be able to. Bu... read more
by Hyun S. H. “Robin, can you come to my birthday party?” Robin is the name I used to use instead of my Korean name when I was in England. Thomas, who helped me get socialized and Thomas, the one who talked to me first when I was new at school, asked me to come to his birthday party. I felt grateful for him as h... read more
by Callie R. I grew up in Peachtree City, Georgia in the United States of America. As time has passed, I’ve learned that Peachtree City is a very conservative place where there’s not a lot of crime. Let’s just say the most exciting thing about it is being close to family and driving golf carts around everywhere.... read more
by Abraham L. T. The engines roared to life as I entered the vehicle of flight that is to take me halfway around the world to a new country that I had no experience of and knew little about. As I entered my seat, I looked out the window and saw my luggage being transported into the compartments below my feet. My who... read more
by Gwen M. I was eight when I heard the news. We were sitting around the dinning table when my dad announced that we’d be moving to Madrid, the capital of Spain. At that moment I thought it was totally amazing, but when the time came when I had to say goodbye to my friends, I regretted those feelings.
Wh... read more
by Ralston S. ‘I’m moving to England’, Claudia said to me. My eyes widened to the size of grapefruits and I gasped. I couldn’t speak. I immediately ran to my mom and asked her if it was true. She replied with a nod. I then ran as fast as I could back to my best friend, Claudia, and gave her a hug. I was so wounde... read more
by Marielle E. “Selamat datang di Indonesia” Those were the first few words I heard on November 16, 2007. We have arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia and I was having a whirl of mixed emotions: excitement, homesickness and even fear. My stomach was doing front flips and back flips. I had immediately wanted to come back ... read more
by Harmony T. As I stepped off the plane at Johannesburg International Airport I just knew it would be hard to adjust to the new setting. I had never had a driver waiting for me. It was a cold August night. There had been crazy amounts of rain. Just perfect, I thought to myself. My last week at home and this is h... read more
by Chaanne J. It’s amazing that in just a few words your life could simply come to an end. When my father came back from a business trip he announced the shocking news that he was going to get transferred from South Africa to Brazil and that we would be relocating. We had to prepare ourselves for Brazil started w... read more
by Neema O. My mouth made a small O. Moving? We were moving?
“B-but what about m-my friends, a-and the school?!” I exclaimed in surprise. I had known that my dad had gone for an interview, but not for a position in South Africa!
“Besides,” my mom said, “You were dying to leave this place anyway.”
... read more
by Bryan W. ‘We are Moving’, were my parents favourite words after living 2 years in a country After a while my family didn’t take it as much as a shock any more but instead as a lifestyle. Our next destination was England from Senegal and from what I heard there was a lot of expectation from that country; we h... read more
by Ben G. Ding. The elevator door opened with a muffled mechanical whirring, stirring me momentarily from the dream world which I had been residing in so often over the past 24 hours. As the elevator door began to open thoughts swirling back into my head with the force of the blizzards I had become so accusto... read more
by Mariano E. The crisp April air whipped through the open window of the white Ford Bus as it went through the security gate and skimmed past several luxurious houses. The wheels shrieked as the Ford halted to a stop; two Brazilian girls stood up, heaved the door open and headed for their house. At the back of th... read more
by Sanath J. SAA flight 207 touches-down at Chatrupathi Shivaji International Airport, in Mumbai. The local time is five minutes past midnight and the plane has come to a gentle stop at the designated gate. The engine gradually dies down and passengers begin to disembark from the aircraft. Along with my parents,... read more
by Paula “Girls we have to talk”, those were the first words I heard when I got home after school. We were in the middle of May and it had been raining all day and the smell of recently cut grass was imprinted in the air. My dad was sitting in the TV room and he had just arrived from Denmark and he looked wo... read more
by Neil G. For me, the moments I remember are the ones that have the biggest impact on my life, or are strange and outlandish. I remember the feeling of an autumn chill as my friend came up with the bright idea to ride down the nearby hill and jump the ditch, with no ramp. So one by one my friends and I would ... read more
by Marley H. “Mom hurry up, we are going to be late!” I shouted from the warm car. Tonight we were headed to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to catch a plane to America where we would be spending the summer with my aunt, uncle and two cousins. I was truly excited because I hadn’t seen them in two years d... read more
by Elisa B. I’ve lived in five different countries, yet the country I feel most attached to is the only one where I haven't lived in, Italy. Sometimes I feel obligated to say I'm Italian because all of my family lives there and my passport is Italian, but I'm not. Every summer I go to Italy, and when I'm there ... read more
by Ibrahim R. As the plane set off for lift off, I felt my body sinking into the seat. With gravity pushing down on every fibre of my body, I noticed the world spinning around me. Not from the sudden change in my environment, but from contemplating what awaited me. I was flying from South Africa and It had been t... read more
by Anthony K. It was the end of my school year I and said to myself, “I glad I'm coming back to Canada.” I went with my parents to the airport to take a flight to Canada but before we could even get to that, we took a flight to London first. The flight to London took ten hours; while we were in the plane, I drank... read more
by Jasmine B. When I was 9, my biggest worry was who would want to play with me at recess, or who would share their last piece of cake with me. Everyone wanted someone they could always be partners with and a best friend to play with their stuffed animals. I glanced back upon my line of friends for the final time... read more
by Nicolas Z. Its 2002 and the FIFA World Cup is happening, the biggest event in the world, I am five years old and while I cant remember much from when I was five that summer during the World Cup is one of my earliest and clearest memories. At the time I lived in the place where the cup was taking place; South K... read more
by Moses N. We’ve all lost someone or something in our lives, right? When we lose them as we grow, we eventually let go of the weight. If we lose it while we’re still very young, it’s quite bad, even when it’s a family member.
This is only something that I feel inside every day. It’s just that I have always re... read more
by Claire P. Where are you from? For me this is one of the hardest questions to answer. Well, my parents are from America, I say, but I was born in South Africa and have grown up all over the world.
I honestly can’t remember what I thought when my parents told me we were moving to Africa. I guess most ... read more
by Kamil C. Have you ever been a swimmer on a professional swimming team? I have, and even I was one of the best swimmers in Poland and all of Europe.
But let’s start from beginning. The first time when I was at an amateurish competition for third graders. During my first race I won the freestyle, that’s w... read more