Bonds Beyond Borders: The Impact of ReBoot on MKs

Malik Dieleman
October 10 2023


Each year, the MORE Network runs Classic ReBoot, a re-entry retreat for missionaries’ kids (MKs) aged 17-20 returning to life in Canada. This is a crucial time in the lives of these young adults, many of whom are not only adjusting to a new culture, but also to new schools, jobs, relationships, and living situations.

Since its inception in 2013, ReBoot has been held in both Alberta and Ontario, organized by the MORE Network—a collaborative of Canada-wide organizations supporting missionaries in cross-cultural transition. Most of the staff are missionaries’ kids themselves. They lead sessions on Canadian culture, MK identity, transition, grief and loss, sexuality, mental health, employment and finances, to name a few.

This year, fun activities included a trip to Niagara Falls and ropes course, a movie night, outdoor sports, an off campus ‘Amazing Race’ game in downtown Toronto, group games, and a talent show!

Seven years ago, I attended ReBoot myself, having just moved from Senegal, where my parents were serving. I returned as a staff member again this year, helping lead activities and small group discussions, taking photos/videos, and, most importantly, connecting with the participants. Coming back to ReBoot over the years has helped me to step back and see how much I have learned and experienced since first attending. And, somehow, I always take away new life lessons.

There is something so beautiful about the quick bonds that form between MKs, who understand each other despite having drastically different life experiences. It’s like a breath of fresh air to be surrounded by people who have gone through similar life experiences. It helps you to share on a more honest and intimate level. By the end of the week, the MKs and staff have created deep friendships and have become more comfortable in their transition journey.

One of my favourite memories from this year, was a song made for the talent show night. Using the lyrics of ChaptGPT and the musical talent of fellow staff members, a performance of “The TCK Anthem” was born. The chorus of this song ended with the words “side by side” which quickly became a repeated slogan for the rest of the retreat - the MKs singing those words back and forth.

ReBoot has been one of the greatest highlights of each year I’m involved. But don’t take my word for it. Here are some quotes from participants of our latest retreat:

What was the best thing about ReBoot?

“It was so nice to be around people who understand.” -Jemma

“Time to take apart piece by piece, what is transition, how to deal with it, and what to use from it in the future.” -anonymous

“Making new friends! All of the memories I've made here are gonna stick with me for a long long time. The tight little community we've formed this week was such a huge blessing.” -anonymous

“Meeting people and making connections with MKs across the world who have been through the same experiences as me.” -anonymous

“Gaining a community of people unlike any other I've ever other experienced.” -Jacob

What class session was most helpful to you?

“The session on grief was helpful to let go of some emotions that were heavy on my heart and shoulders.” -anonymous

“The transitions one was really good.” -Seth

“I liked the loss session and the mental health ones.” -anonymous

“Honestly, I really appreciated the sex sessions. It's a subject that needs to be discussed!! I feel more prepared now for entering into future relationships and honoring God.” -anonymous

“I appreciated hearing some of the life stories and testimonies. They helped more than you know.” -anonymous

What would you say to a younger MK considering going to ReBoot?

“[It was a] lot of fun, you’ll meet cool people.” -Moriah

“That it is a long week and very packed, but it is worth it to get all the important lessons.” -Winnie

“You should really go. It’s a great experience and you’ll learn so much.” -Carson

“Gooooo you need to go.” -Isaac

“Definitely go! It’s a great experience and gives you great tools!” -anonymous

“Definitely recommend no matter how long ago you moved here. I thought I was fully transitioned before I came to ReBoot and I didn’t realize how much I needed it.” -anonymous

“It was a wonderful experience where I learned how to transition back into my passport culture. I also met many amazing people who have gone through similar experiences. There are others out there like you.” -anonymous

“Go, even if you don’t think you need to, you will find something useful. At the very least you make good friends.” -Seth

“Heck yeah dude! Go! Go! Go!” – Jacob

“It’s amazing” – Elise

Malik Dieleman is TCK (Third Culture Kid) who grew up in Marseille, France; London, Ontario; and Dakar, Senegal. Now he lives in Toronto! Malik first attended ReBoot back in 2016, when he was introduced to MORE Network, and has since been involved in ReBoot as a staff member. Malik works as the Digital Content Designer for MORE Network. Malik is an artist at heart and studied Photography at OCAD University. Outside of his freelance work, he loves cooking, playing volleyball, and watching reality TV.

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