Tag Archives: International School

Pointy White Hats at School? (Unexpected Blessing – Christmas)

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 10.13.49 AMGrowing up in the rural south, I thought I knew what those guys in pointy white hats were all about. If you’re American and know about the KKK, you can imagine my surprise at walking into my sons’ international school and seeing young men and boys in white robes wearing tall, white, pointed hats.

The costume of the KKK, an image of hate and terror from my childhood

The costume of the KKK, an image of hate and terror from my childhood

I did not know the tradition of several Scandinavian countries to celebrate Santa Lucia on December 13th near the time of the Winter Solstice.

Around Christmas time….The celebration comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden.

St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304AD. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means ‘light’ so this is a very appropriate name. (More here.)

Who could resist following the girls with their crowns and all the children in white to the auditorium? Not me. A beautiful older student stood in St. Lucy’s place leading the parade of children and youth. The fiery candles burning on her crown made me hope she hadn’t worn much hair spray. By candle light traditional carols drifted with the light smoke odor to my ears.

Our international school's celebration last year

Our international school’s celebration last year

The song from the procession repeated as the children filed out. Which carol was it? I wondered as I later read the first lines of three: The night walks with heavy steps, or Saint Lucy bright mirage, or the modern Outside it is dark and cold. Regardless, it was an all together lovely celebration followed by cookies and country displays in the cafeteria.

Living overseas, so much is entirely new to me yet parts of age old traditions to others. I find I am grateful for the unexpected blessing of those pointy white hats. A vision long associated with extremism, racism, and terror in my country has been, if not redeemed, at least altered. I have a new vision superimposed over the one of  hatred and violence. A vision of light and the love that Christ inspired in one young woman, a girl named Lucy.


Kristin King is an author, US expat in Holland, and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa. Unexpected Blessings is a category of posts that includes Am I a Bad Mom? and Sunrise Over Port de Pollenca.

Feel free to comment and leave your own stories of the unexpected.



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International School Requires… (Holland Expat)

Currently Reading Shelf

Currently Reading Shelf

I sighed with relief the week before school began because we didn’t have to attend all the orientation meetings. We’re in our second year, so the gauntlet is much shorter with elementary and middle school open houses. For middle school night you receive your son or daughter’s schedule and run through nine periods to the tune of the dismissal bell. Ten minutes in each class gives the teachers enough time to show you the units your child will be covering, major projects, and introduce the teacher themselves. Where can we see the children’s homework assignments, or their tardies, or project progress? Parents get the answers, see each other in classrooms, and become increasingly information overloaded since every class handles work differently.

I came home impressed not only with the school (which is really top notch) but also with my son. He is doing so much more each day than I ever did back in the day. The time it takes to walk from the arts center to Social Studies–yikes, I’m proud he hasn’t had a tardy. I had one conversation in passing–literally still moving in opposite directions–and arrived after “class” began.

Beyond all this, though, the coolest thing that came out of the night for me was coming home to find my son on Goodreads and become “Friends.” I’ve enjoyed tracking my reading for a few years now on this social reading site, and now my 8th grader is required to have an account and use it to discuss books with his classmates. Yay!

I mentioned this requirement to a friend who teaches at the Dutch school, and she had never heard of the website. This always amazes me. I tend to think  teachers and readers all know about it and avidly track what they read, leave reviews, and compare what they like to what their friends like. She said she would look into it. Meanwhile I’ll check out how the 8th grade is interacting.


Kristin King is an American author recently relocated to the Netherlands. To peruse her novels and author information visit this link. You can also connect with her on Goodreads, see what she’s currently reading, and compare reading compatibility.

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Posted by on September 17, 2015 in Living in Holland


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