Senior Professionals Seminar with John Franz

The Senior Professionals Seminar for Tuesday, February 24 (2:30 p.m. in SCC 103) will feature John Franz on his new book, The Mango Bloom.  John Franz’s long career in higher education began at Fresno Pacific, and continued at California State University, Fresno, where he distinguished himself as a counselor and consultant to faculty and staff and as a professor of social work. But earlier, formative years were spent in what was then called Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Congo Dawn (Outskirts Press, 2012) tells the story of his experiences as a teacher in an American school in Kinshasa, the capital, which he shared in a prior seminar. His recent book, The Mango Bloom (Outskirts Press, 2014) tells the story of a second term managing a missionary children’s hostel together with his wife, Betty Jean, who had earlier been a student in the American school where he taught. It is this memoir that will be the focus of the seminar.
The first section of The Mango Bloom describes the process that led John and his wife, BJ, to accept a call to serve as house parents for 20 teenagers in the Africa Inter Mennonite Mission (A.I.M.M.) dorm in Kinshasa. It offers a glimpse of what life was like in urban Africa in the mid-1970s, and the significant challenges they faced in day-to-day living. But the heart of the book addresses the phenomena of so-called “third culture living” and its impact on the development (“the mango bloom”) of the young MKs under their care. An excerpt from the book’s introduction explains:
A growing literature on TCKs (Third Culture Kids) has documented the psychosocial development of young people who, like the MKs in our Kinshasa hostel, have spent extended time overseas during their formative years and have developed a “third culture.” This third culture is a blend of their home culture and the host culture where they live, an amalgam life style created and shared with the other youth dwelling in the same setting. Research has shown that as a result of this experience these young people’s social, emotional, vocational and even spiritual perspectives are altered. Our story places us right in the middle of this phenomenon. Somehow, this third culture was created as they and we lived and interacted with one another in that African setting.
John’s presentation will describe and explore issues and insights derived from living and working with TCKs in Congo/Zaire.