I've ridden a camel and fed a lemur. What about you?

The children of diplomats like living in foreign countries, but they sometimes miss family ... and hamburgers.

Have you ever ridden a camel, fed a lemur, or traveled to Madagascar? Most kids probably haven't. But if you're the son or daughter of a foreign diplomat representing the United States, you may have.

Diplomats are US citizens who work for the government, but who live in other countries. They're sometimes called Foreign Service officers, and their job is to represent US interests around the world.

The US has diplomats in nearly every country around the world. That often means that when diplomats move to another country to work, they take their families with them - and even their pets.

There are more than 11,000 children living abroad with their Foreign Service parents, according to the State Department's family liaison office. These children usually spend two or three years in each country. They go to local schools, learn the local language, and hang out with local children. They celebrate American holidays as well as the local holidays in the country where they're living.

Shay is only 5, but he has already lived in Russia, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. (Kazakhstan is in central Asia, northwest of China.) Because Russian is spoken in all these countries, Shay grew up speaking Russian as well as English. He took part in local customs and celebrated local holidays, too.

While in Russia, Shay celebrated Christmas as the Russian Orthodox Church does - in January, not December. In Kazakhstan, he and his family welcomed the Muslim New Year at the house of a Muslim neighbor.

In the Russian capital, Moscow, Shay walked through Red Square andsaw the colorful onion-shaped domes of St. Basil's Cathedral, one of Russia's most beautiful churches.

From his bedroom window in Armenia, Shay could see Mount Ararat, a place where some people speculate that Noah's Ark is hidden.

His favorite memory of living overseas? "I once rode a huge camel in Kazakhstan," he says.

Joelle, who is 8, is also a diplomat's child. She spent five years in India and two years living in Burkino Faso (a small country in western Africa).

Joelle says schools in India are similar to those in the United States. She learned to speak French, and she loved making new friends from all over the world at her school. But she admits it's always hard to say goodbye to her friends when it's time to leave.

Joelle's mom, who is a diplomat, met her husband-to-be in Madagascar, so Joelle has traveled there to visit relatives. Joelle says that Madagascar (which is off the coast of southern Africa) might be her favorite country because she "once got to feed a lemur there."

She hasn't decided if she wants to become a diplomat, like her mom, or a veterinarian, but she says, "Whatever I do, I'll travel the whole world to do it."

For older children, such as Amanda, who's 15, being a diplomat's kid can be hard. She says it can be difficult to make new friends and adapt to new cultures. But she says she still enjoys the experience. "When I was little, I liked moving and making new friends," she explains. "Now I really like to see what the different fashions are around the world."

Amanda has lived in Romania, Albania, Italy, and Kazakhstan. When asked about the strangest thing she's ever done while living abroad, she quickly answers, "I ate horsemeat in Kazakhstan."

Amanda has learned to speak Romanian, Italian, and Russian. When she lived for six months in Albania, she even learned a bit of Albanian before her family was evacuated because a war broke out in the region.

Shay's family left Russia a year earlier than planned because the Russian and American governments got into an argument, he explains. Shay's dad was among the diplomats who were told to leave. Later, they had to leave Kazakhstan because his brother was ill, and Shay never got to say goodbye to his friends. That's tough, he says.

The traveling isn't always easy, either, says Shay.

Six-year-old Reilly, who lives with her parents in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, agrees that the plane rides are the worst part of the Foreign Service lifestyle. "I hate the sound the airplane flaps make when we take off," she says.

But being a diplomat's child is fun, too, Reilly has learned. She loves making new friends, and she already speaks Russian, Kyrgyz (the language of Kyrgyzstan, which is west of China), and "a little bit of Hungarian."

Devlin, who is 11, doesn't mind the airplane rides, but he does miss the US sometimes. What does he long for the most in the US? "Hamburgers!" he quickly answers.

Shay misses home sometimes, too. He says that he mostly misses his relatives who live in the US - his grandparents, his aunts and uncles, and his cousins. He also misses going to McDonald's.

Many of the children often don't know when they will move again - or where. Shay now has friends who live in Sweden, France, Hungary, and Bulgaria. He looks up these countries on a globe, and he is happy to have so many friends all over the world. He hopes he will see some of them again. And he knows he'll make more friends in each new country he lives in.

The life of a diplomat's kid isn't always easy. But it is always interesting.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK