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TCKs in Love: Brianna Raatz and Jeff Prebeck

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Brianna Raatz, 25, has lived in Kuwait, Korea, China and Indiana. Jeff Prebeck, 27, has lived in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

Wedding Date: June 25, 2011
Wedding Location: Louisville, Kentucky

When Jeff Prebeck first walked in to Ramsi’s Cafe on the World in Louisville, Kentucky, Brianna Raatz raised an eyebrow. “I never thought I would ever date someone who was very different from me, someone who had completely opposite interests as I do,” Brianna, 25, said. Little did she know that Jeff, 27, was feeling the exact same way. Yet, it was exactly that difference that bound the two worlds for good.

Brianna was born in Kuwait to two American small-town Midwest teachers who had never been out of the country until they received offers to teach at the American School of Kuwait. Shortly after she was born, Brianna’s parents accepted teaching jobs at the Seoul Foreign School and moved to Korea, where she spent the next 14 years of her life.

In 10th grade, Brianna moved to China and finished high school at the International School of Beijing in 2004. For college, “my parents wanted me to be close to family,” Brianna said, so she returned to the States to attend Hanover College in Indiana, where she could be close to her grandmother. Shortly after graduating in 2008, Brianna was finally given an opportunity to return to her childhood country, Korea, to teach English at a Korean school in Seoul. As much as she missed being in back, Brianna knew that her passion now lies in the mental health field so she accepted a job offer at LifeSpring, Inc., an outpatient mental health facility in Madison, Indiana, where she currently works.

Jeff was born in Peoria, Illinois, and moved with his family to Columbus, Indiana in middle school, where he lived for the majority of his life. “He was the quintessential country boy – school basketball star, country music lover, and coast guard academy student,” Brianna said, describing Jeff with a little giggle in her voice. Jeff played on the college basketball team during his time at the Coast Guard Academy, where he majored in Government, and is now an officer for the United States Coast Guard stationed in Louisville, Kentucky.

“There definitely weren’t fireworks or anything,” Brianna laughed as she recalled her first impressions of Jeff. The couple casually dated for five months before deciding to make the relationship permanent. Jeff took time to reconnect Brianna to all things Americana that she missed out growing up abroad while Brianna slowly expanded Jeff’s food repertoire beyond steak and potatoes.”He wants to travel and experience the culture that I grew up with,” Brianna said, adding she felt excited that Jeff embraced multiculturalism fully with zeal and passion.

Over Christmas break 2010, Brianna left for Sri Lanka to spend the holidays with her family while Jeff stayed in Louisville. For every day that they were apart, Brianna presented Jeff with a Christmas surprise, sending him on a wild scavenger hunt around his own apartment. Not wanting to break tradition from their weekly mid-week date night, Jeff planned a beautiful dinner at Rivue, atop the Galt House hotel, to enjoy the long-awaited return of Brianna while sharing the serene Louisville skyline with her.

Little did Brianna know that the dinner was not only to rekindle a three-week hiatus from each other and to celebrate Christmas, but Jeff had an immensely important purpose to achieve that night. Walking in to the restaurant, the couple was escorted into a private room glowing with the flickering amber candle-light and awaiting her, a bottle of Malbec, her favorite. In the midst of telling Jeff about the New Years Festival over Amaya Lake in Dumbulla, Sri Lanka, a waiter presented her with a bound storybook Jeff had spent the past three weeks putting together that detailed the couple’s journey from that first cold night at Ramsi’s to how their lives will change from this day forth. He had written her a novel of their lives. The very last sentence of the novel read, “Go ahead and look him in the eye, hold his hand, and give him one of your biggest smiles. He’s got something to ask you.” As Brianna looked into Jeff’s eyes and gave him her most amorous and nervous smile, he knelt down on one knee and asked Brianna to marry him.

The couple will be wedded on June 25, 2011, at the Third Lutheran Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Making sure that Brianna had a piece of her childhood home as part of the wedding, she has asked her pianist from her church in Korea to play the organ for the ceremony and a number of her friends from overseas will be joining in the celebration.

 

Are you a recently married Third Culture Kid or Global Nomad? We would love to feature you in this column. Please email weddings editor Carol Lin at carol@denizenmag.com.

2 Comments

  1. Kathy Hannah says

    I wish Brianna and Jeff the very best but speaking from my experience, it could be difficult down the road. Like Brianna, I was born overseas and grew up 18 years outside of my passport holding country. Eighteen years ago, I married a good old American boy. We live just outside of Washington, DC and have three children. My wanderlust has never left me and I yearn every single day to be away from my white picket fence life. In spite of promises we made to travel and show our children the world, real life got in the way – mortgages, jobs, bills, children, school… I have managed to make travel a part of my life through teaching and taking students overseas but it is still not enough. Today, my marriage is breaking down because we could not reconcile our two worlds. This is a common dilemma for TCKs and doesn’t get any easier. May you both always know the excellence of love and may your past not come back to haunt you.

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  2. Katherine F. says

    I know that my current relationship is nowhere near marriage, but I broke up with my TCK boyfriend a year ago for a wonderful guy I met, who was born and raised in Texas. I’m currently in my 3rd year of University here and I’m always afraid of what will happen to us after our graduations. I hope the best for Brianna and Jeff, and I’m very sorry to hear from Kathy.

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