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UnknownIt’s no wonder that so many people ask me about how our kids are adjusting to life in Berlin. We moved from Montana to Berlin in 2010, back to Montana in 2012, and then back to Berlin again in 2013. The kids are like three Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, flopping about from one continent to another with a perpetual dazed smile on their faces. They do seem happy, but how can a parent measure the welfare of their children or know whether they can trust their own judgment about where it is best to raise them?

bowtieI go right to the source and check in on a regular basis with the kids. I learn the most from Olivia, who is introverted, well outside the mainstream, and good at talking about her feelings. She recently told me that there is less of a “structured social hierarchy” in her current school environment than there was back home. Berlin’s youth reflect a broad range of dress, activities, and socially acceptable behavior. Our kids benefit from an internationally diverse atmosphere that helps to reduce peer pressure. In the treacherous teen years, it’s good to know that Olivia feels comfortable sporting a bow tie or publishing her poetry in Haywire, the John F. Kennedy School magazine.

Olivia is thinking about becoming a writer, or an astronomer, or a biologist, or a diplomat. Here’s her poem that was published in Haywire.

autumn’s march
the treetops burning red as sin
the days bleed out, now carve a grin
and dream away the sparrow’s flight
hail those who walk the night
burn up in a storm of gold
fall asleep as days grow cold
ashes fall and fires rise
walk among a thousand eyes
cast aside your leafy crown
in the rain you’ll strike me down
shroud the world in sheets of gray
stop the clock and mark the days
on the wind a cloud of flame
lose your voice and forget your name
sing a hymn to the dying sun
kingdoms fall and demons run