Relocation through a child’s eyes

Aug 05 | 2015

It was on 11 June in Boston that a young man, Max Cormier, had a life changing experience. At the tender age of 12 he presented the results of his own survey into the reactions of children to the trauma of relocation to the annual meeting of the New England Relocation Association (NERA).

The event achieved record attendance.  Most adults are scared of speaking in public, but Max had earned the right to speak on his subject, was confident, and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

Despite his tender age, Max is no stranger to relocation. He was born in Hong Kong; moved to Singapore at the age of five; Kuala Lumpur at nine; and North Carolina at eleven.  He also has the privilege of having Rob Cormier as his father who has made his career in the relocation industry with Santa Fe and now, having returned to his native USA, works as group director for Paramount Transportation Systems in North Carolina. 

Max developed the survey himself to help find out how kids feel about moving home.  He used Survey Monkey and achieved 61 responses all from children who had moved internationally, some three or more times; the youngest was four years old, the eldest 15. Approximately three quarters of respondents were born outside the USA.   

The survey showed that around one third of children had been told about the move over four months in advance. However, a similar percentage has only found out they were moving with a few weeks’ notice.  Alarmingly, well over 50% of respondents said they had not been consulted about the choice of school with only 8% reporting that their parents had listened to everything they had to say.

Most of the children said that they felt excited and nervous about the move.  Around a quarter, however, admitted to being stressed and a third said they were worried. Nine children said they were sad.  Surprisingly eight of the nine who admitted to being sad about moving home had been given over three months’ notice. 

Max’s conclusions from the survey were: that a family with school-age children should visit the country in advance of the move; that children should be kept informed and encouraged to share their feelings; that destinations should be researched together to help ease anxiety; and that everyone should stay positive.

Understandably, Rob Cormier played the role of proud dad perfectly.  “I have to tell you that it went fantastically,” said Rob.  “Max was a star and he did a stellar job in presenting himself and the survey results. There was a record attendance at this event, which they attribute to having Max as a speaker, and then the feedback was incredible. I was very proud of Max as you can imagine, and we got about 20-25 min of questions with many people from the group asking questions directed at Max.”

Max received a standing ovation. He has already received invitations to speak at other industry events and is already working on the follow-up survey to go out to other kids that have moved internationally.

Photos: Top: Max takes a break for lunch; middle: with his father, Rob, and Matt Canfield, NERA Board Member; bottom: Max receives a standing ovation from delegates at the meeting after presenting his survey results.

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