1000 families project doreen howard and family

1,000 Families Project:
Doreen, Howard, Tim and Becca

This family moved from a tiny town in rural Alberta to a bustling city in Asia. Here’s a look at their adventurous expat life.

What would make you sell everything you own, leave your family and friends, and fly halfway around the world to live and work in a place where you do not know the language or culture? What would make you want to go through the effort of selling your house, finding a new one in a foreign country, setting up a credit card for no credit score in that country, learn the culture, keep your boss happy, AND do all of this with your family… Could it be a need for a change? A longing for adventure? A desire to open the world up to your children? For our family, it was all of those things and more.

In 2006, our family of four sold our house and everything we owned and moved from the small town of Milk River, Alberta, to Macau, China. Macau is a Special Administrative Region of China with history as a Portuguese colony and is now being called the “Las Vegas of Asia.” Coming from a town of around 800 people to a city that is known for having the highest population density was a bit of a shock to our systems. However, we have come to really enjoy our lives here.

My husband and I both work for The International School of Macao. I have been the Primary Music Teacher here since 2006 and now also do Speech Therapy with many students. My husband started as a Vice-Principal at the School and is now the Head of Schools. Our son was in Grade 4 when we moved to Macau and this year he will be graduating from TIS. Our daughter started here in Grade 1 and is now in Grade 9 and both of our children have learned to speak Mandarin (mandatory at our school).

Living in Macau has allowed us to open up the world to our children. They have gone from kids who thought Lethbridge, Alberta was the centre of the universe to world travelers. We have been able to take them on trips to Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Rome and many other places. They have learned how to scuba dive, snorkel and surf (hard to learn in rural Alberta!).

Has it been an easy transition? Not always. There have been times where our children wanted to return to Canada. Our son, in particular, has missed friends and family a lot. Both of our children long for snow and cold weather at times (I don’t at all!). Moving to an area where most people do NOT speak English proved to be a challenge as well. We became very good at hand signals and nodding our heads.

We still miss our families back in Canada and the United States, but have learned to cherish the time we do get with them. We often use email, Skype, Watsapp and FB to stay connected to our families. It is amazing how easy it is to remain connected now. And it is always thrilling when people come to visit and we can show them what our life is like here.

It has also been amazing how our school and church community have become our extended family. I have come to understand that family only has a little to do with “blood connections” and everything to do with love and acceptance.

I have been asked if I would change our decision and the answer is a resounding NO! We are still experiencing our wonderful world and don’t want to stop.

This is #1000families post number 39. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.

Please follow and like us:

Doreen Stribbell

About Doreen Stribbell

Doreen Stribbell is a teacher at The International School of Macao in Macao, China, where her family of four has lived since 2006. She is a wife and mother who loves her expat life. View all posts by

'1,000 Families Project:
Doreen, Howard, Tim and Becca' have 1 comment

  1. Cathline James

    October 30, 2014 @ 4:00 pm Cathline James

    Wonderful to see you are enjoying the adventures of the world with your family Doreen!


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.