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2: DIVERSITY

We value diversity and new experiences.

There are nearly 500 US military bases around the world. Some active duty families have lived in popular places like Germany, Japan, and Italy for several years at a time. Teens and pre-teens may have even picked up a foreign language or two.

“Military kids make friends fast.”

But even if they haven’t lived overseas, active duty families have experienced many parts of America. The Armed Forces closely represent the racial makeup of America. Between moving and the diverse nature of the Service, military youth have grown up in an environment that reflects the real world. 

No matter the Service, military youth have embraced the positive parts of change. Where many of their peers outside of the military are stabilized in one neighborhood or go to school with the same people until graduation, military youth learn to value the opportunity to see new parts of the world and meet new people from different backgrounds than their own. What an incredible life lesson to learn so young! Draw from their experiences this way:

  • Use them as classroom resources. Globetrotting teens can give priceless first-hand perspectives about other cultures for fellow students. Ask them to share treasures acquired from other regions, countries, or cultures.
  • Include military youth as part of your organization’s advisory group or teen panel. As local and world travelers they bring a valuable perspective that should be counted.
  • Help graduating teens who have spent a significant amount of time in foreign countries research colleges and professions they may not be familiar with. Get them involved in organizations that help them find their talents, whether in a military career or another profession.
  • Contact your state representatives and then help your state join the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which recognizes and supports the mobile military family and values a worldwide education.

Resources:

4-H Military Partnerships – 4-H has special programs for the development of military youth. Check out the services at www.4hmilitarypartnerships.org.

Future Business Leaders of America – helping teens build leadership skills and confidence for more than 60 years at www.fbla-pbl.org.

MCEC Teen Stories – Watch military teens talk about what it’s like to live in other countries in the video Student 2 Student at www.youtube.com/MilitaryChild.

www.Myclubmylife.com – a teen social and educational site from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, where more than 80 percent of members are minorities.

To learn more about the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children visit www.csg.org/programs/ncic/EducatingMilitaryChildrenCompact.aspx.

Military Community Youth Ministries, www.mcym.org, is a nondenominational Christian Ministry reaching out to military teens in over 40 military communities.