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Parent-to-parent: Noreen introduces us to the Ongurs

“We are from Boston, and live in a town called Lexington often called the birthplace of the American War of Independence. I'm a clinical psychologist and I practice psychotherapy with adults and older adolescents, and also work in the field of Bioethics,” Melissa explains. “I work at Massachusetts General Hospital in the area of research ethics, and teach at the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School. Dost is originally from Istanbul, Turkey, and is a Professor of Psychiatry and researcher at a psychiatric hospital in Boston, McLean Hospital at Harvard Medical School. He is in Copenhagen for a collaboration with researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Mental Health Center. He also teaches quite a bit. We are living on Tordenskjoldsgade in the City Center.”

You mentioned you enjoy dining out. Which restaurant is on the top of your list? Depending on numbers allowed with restrictions, would you be open to other CIS parents joining you?
“So many choices! There is a small and inviting hotel on our street, Tordenskjoldsgade, Hotel Sanders, which during the lockdown has been a go-to for hot toddies, coffee, even Sunday Night takeaway dinners. We would love to dine on their patio or roofdeck once open as they have served us well. That said, we would enjoy any recommendations for waterfront dining! We would certainly welcome being joined by other CIS parents if allowed.”

You are both in the professions of mental health. What would you recommend parents and children to primarily focus on during this pandemic, in terms of staying mentally healthy?
“In the US, we have had an extended period of time in restrictions, including a long period of time where kids really didn't interact with anyone, even outdoors. It is still like this for many and many schools remain closed. We had time to both watch the effects on our own kids and to see mental health needs surge over time in adolescents and young adults. What comes to mind as most important: 1) something already so much a part of Danish life: go outdoors with the family to have conversations, and get fresh air and a change of scenery far away from screens (see how many walks you can do on AllTrails!); 2) don't invalidate, ignore, or dismiss your child's losses or negative feelings related to remote learning and isolation - go with empathy; and 3) don't be too hard on yourself or your child with respect to what is happening academically - connection is more important.”

Melissa and Dost are the parents of Dilan and Derin, Grade 8 and 9. They were interviewed by Noreen, who is the mother of 9th grader Oona and has lived in Denmark for many years. She and many of our other expat experts help newcomers settle in. During the pandemic, they got creative and explored new ways to welcome our new families. Isn't that fantastic?