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FIGT Connections | FIGT15 Conference: Everything You Need To Know



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Issue: 32
February 17, 2015
Families in Global Transition is a welcoming forum for globally mobile individuals, families, and those working with them. We promote cross-sector connections for sharing research and developing best practices that support the growth, success and well-being of people crossing cultures around the world.

The excitement is building as we approach the conference. Do read through the entire newsletter to keep up with the latest opportunities at FIGT15.

If you are only going to attend one intercultural conference in 2015, make it #FIGT15. This conference is a complete A to Z solution when it comes to learning about living across cultures from all the many different sectors - international education, business, diplomacy, military, missions, immigrant/refugee - in our global world. It will give you the strategies, tools and networking opportunities to grow in 2015.


The list of experts is long and impressive, and you can see the conference schedule here. Presenters will be teaching practical and actionable strategies, but just as importantly, they will be attending FIGT15 to absorb, share, collaborate and connect.


During our Concurrent Sessions, we bring together some of the top educators and entrepreneurs in the world to learn and network.Their stories are inspiring, but the actions they've taken and the suggested strategies and tactics they recommend will also motivate you. FIGT 2015 is rallying around this central question: How do today's global families "find home" amidst global change?


  • Katia Vlachos - Home Is What You Make It: How Our Concept Of Home Shapes The Way We Move
  • Literature Panel - Antje Rauwerda, Brittani Sonnenberg, Valerie Becanceney - Many Selves at Once in Third Culture Literature
  • Michele Bar-Pereg and Naomi Hattaway - Techniques and Tools Re-Designing them for Todays' Expatriates
  • Alice Wu - Global Nomads: Finding Home in the Age of Technology



  • Research Panel - Sarah Gonzales and Ann Baker Cottrell
  • Nina Sichel and Patricia Linderman - Writing Your Way Home: Capturing a Sense of Place
  • Focus Lab - The place FIGT members can go to focus on recent things - a quiet room and networking in one place!
  • Birgit Kuschel - How to Use Body Language for a Happy Life @ Home Worldwide



  • Geremie Sawadego - AfricanXculture: Assessing Intercultural Competence in Times of Global Change
  • Katia Mace - Does the Age at Which a Child Experiences Relocation Influence their Ability to Establish a Sense of 'Home'?
  • Amanda Bate, Ellen Mahoney, Doug Ota and Jennie Germann Molz - Panel - A Safe Passage Through a Sea Change: A Review of Effective Support for TCKs from Childhood Through the Transition to Adulthood
  • Christopher O'Shaughnessy - Changing Our Concept of Home to Find Hope



  • Ryan Hayes and Becky Grappo - Under the Radar: Working with Teens Who Suffer in Silence
  • Rachel Yates and Trisha Carter - Selling Your Services Helping Others Find Home
  • Oxana Holtman - Creating the Home Within: Body Intelligence in Action
  • Jonelle Hilleary - Finding Home: Is It Deep Or Wide? How Having Multiple Addresses Affects the Way We Define "Home"


We have asked twenty-five cross-sector experts -- grouped into four themes -- to share their findings, practices, and nagging questions about the changing worlds of global nomads. We're asking YOU to help us redefine how to put cross-cultural support to individuals and families into practice in the future. For more information about each Concurrent Session, please click here.

Also, have a look at the Keynote Speakers and Plenary Panel, and the wonderful presenters we have scheduled for the Ignite and Kitchen Table sessions. And if that's not enough, you can find all of the presenters' bios here. See you at #FIGT15


With such a rich conference program at #FIGT15, are you having trouble deciding which presentations to attend?


FIGT's Parfitt Pascoe Writing Residents - Beth Schweitzer Hoban, Taylor Murray, Lauren Owen and Lauren Power - are there to help!


The 2015 PPWRs have been chosen from a large number of applicants because of their expatriate experience, their desire to make it as a writer, and their hunger to learn as much as they can from the conference.


Armed with the training they have received from Jo Parfitt, the 2015 PPWRs will not only interview two key conference attendees each, but between them, they will also cover every single Keynote, Concurrent, Ignite and Kitchen Table session. The resulting articles will be used to promote the conference via social media and global publications, and will also be used on the FIGT website.


Now you really CAN attend every session! 


 Thanks to the hard work put in by last year's Writers in Residence: Cristina Bertarelli, Dounia Bertuccelli, Justine Ickes and Sue Mannering, and to Jo Parfitt's committed leadership and generous sponsorship, we proudly share with you Insights and Interviews from the 2014 Families in Global Transition Conference: The Global Family Redefined. Jo would also like to thank Alice Wu, Becky Matchullis, Terry-Anne Wilson and Nikki Kazimova for their commitment and contribution to the book.

Covering all the fantastic presentation sessions from last year's conference; Insights and Interviews is the go-to resource for all the valuable information shared and generated at the March 2014 Families in Global Transition Conference. This and any future books will create an enriching archival resource for the FIGT community.





Yearning for a sneak preview of an excerpt from the 2014 Yearbook? Check out 2014 Parfitt-Pascoe Writing Resident Sue Mannering's article on the Concurrent Session on Cultural Complexity and Hidden Diversity: Exploring Today's TCKs with Rebecca Grappo, Ruth Van Reken, Ryan Haynes and Alexandra Pomeroy here.

Don't forget to grab your copy at the special FIGT rate $20 Conference Bookstore (retail price $21). The yearbook will also be available online in Kindle format soon.


The David C. Pollock Scholarship is an integral part of the FIGT conference and organization. It allows emerging interculturalists to attend the FIGT conference for free, to share their research and experiences with others working with global mobile individuals, and to make connections to help advance their research and careers.

This year's six Pollock Scholars - Tayo Rockson, Ginny Sampson, Britanni Sonnenberg, Jean Kim, Irena Tsoustas and Andrew Jernigan - will attend the FIGT conference for the first time, bringing new insights, perspectives and questions to the FIGT community table. Three of our scholars will present at the conference on how to use a Third Culture background to make a difference in the world, on communicating globally with word and art, and transnational identity. Two of the scholars come as ambassadors for immigrant and refugee perspectives. One of our scholars brings tools, resources and principles for holistic care of globally mobile families.

The scholars will be introduced to the entire conference body, and will have a high profile as they help sell tickets to the Pollock Scholarship Raffle. The scholarship is funded from individual donations - both money and prize items - of FIGT members and conference attendees. 


Monetary donations are used first to purchase a variety of desirable prizes to go along with donated items. The prize packages are then raffled off at the conference through the purchase of raffle tickets, raising funds to support the Scholarship. 


For FIGT2015, the prizes average about $250-$300 in value, and include high-tech gifts such as an iPad and smart watch, travel-related items for our world-traveling friends of FIGT, and a variety of books from emerging researchers in the intercultural field.

The Pollock Scholars will also be active on social media, sharing conference news by tweeting, posting and connecting globally. If you are attending this year, please make a point to introduce yourself, welcome the scholars to our community, and ask them to share their stories! 


Because the Annual Conference operates on a break-even basis, FIGT launched a new membership program in 2012. It is through memberships that FIGT can provide extra benefits to active financial supporters. 


All members receive access to the members' only section on the FIGT website, subscription to the monthly newsletter, listings in and access to the searchable member directory, discounts on the full conference rate, access to webinars and the online bookstore, and 10% off the conference bookstore.


Individual and Organization members may also submit articles for the newsletter and submit three press releases per year. Membership also includes FIGT logo usage and voting privileges. 


The Membership Committee is developing a brochure focusing on the full range of membership benefits, which will be released at the conference. If you aren't a member already, be sure to join while at the conference this year! 


Cristina Bertarelli grew up in a beautiful small town in Italy on Lake Como, in a family that rarely traveled abroad and preferred to vacation close to home. Then she met her partner in adventure, an Italian born in the U.S. but raised in Italy. His career with the United Nations would take them from Switzerland to France and then to New York City, where they have lived for almost seven years. They are raising two TCKs, a daughter now in college in the U.K. and a 13-year-old son. Cristina has moved with her family into 15 different houses in 20 years, and for the first time she feels she has found her home. She has come to embrace the life of an expat and carries her home with her.

I met Cristina two years ago through the Local Expat Spouse Association of the United Nations in New York, at a meeting of coaches supporting expatriate U.N. spouses and partners. Her energy and passion about the work we do and the life and needs of a "U.N. Spouse/Partner" made a strong impression on me. That's why I am so happy she was selected for the Parfitt Pascoe Writing Residency for FIGT2014 and now returns to the 2015 Conference as a Kitchen Table presenter. I asked Cristina to describe her experience at her first conference last year.

"It was a step out of my comfort zone," she replies. "Until I attended FIGT2014, I had lived my expat life not thinking out of the box, with self-limiting beliefs and gremlins that worked hard to convince me that I was not good enough to continue my exploration of the expat world. Luckily, I started to meet like-minded people, initially socializing with other U.N. expatriate families and beyond. Attending FIGT2014 was a big step out of my bubble into a broader expat world. It was enlightening and I felt an immediate, strong connection with the other attendees at the Conference, which is why I also became an FIGT member."

Writing with Jo Parfitt's support and guidance was a life-changing experience for Cristina. It gave her the confidence to continue developing her blog, and a group of like-minded expat writers to exchanges ideas with. 


Why is she back at FIGT2015?

"Because you challenged me to it," she answers jokingly, referring to my suggestion she submit a proposal as a presenter. The challenge did get her creative juices flowing and during a long walk the idea that became her proposal came to her - "Changing Home is More than a Theory" - where she explores moving with the help of our senses. "Change is an open door, sometimes we are not ready for it, and that is ok too, but we need to make the best of it."

So why is she really back, and why should you attend FIGT2015?

"Because of all that I received last year was worth coming back for and to give back for. When you step out of your comfort zone, you find yourself. I also found a place where I felt understood, and with possibilities to share experiences with like-minded people."  

-- Interview by Katarina Holm-DiDio 


One of the highlights of FIGT15 will be the Conference Bookstore, featuring intercultural handbooks, reference books, memoirs, novels and stories of interest to anyone living across cultures. This year, the bookstore is especially pleased to highlight new works from our distinguished speakers and conference guests, such as Doug Ota, Brittani Sonnenberg, Eva Laszlo-Herbert, Valerie Besanceney, and others.

Two titles of particular interest are the TCK anthology The Worlds Within and the 2014 Yearbook Insights and Interviews from the 2014 Families in Global Transition Conference: The Global Family Redefined.

Thanks to the generosity of sponsors, 15 percent of the profits from the sale of The Worlds Within will be donated to The FIGT David C. Pollock Scholarship Fund. Why not buy either book -- better yet, both! -- as a gift for the professional, parent, TCK or cross-cultural person in your life? The recipient will be delighted, and you will be, too, knowing that a portion of the profits support FIGT's ongoing work.

Attention authors: Time is running out! If you are attending the 2015 FIGT Conference and have authored a recent book of interest to attendees, you may be eligible to have your book included in the Conference Bookstore. For details, please click here.

Remember, FIGT members save 10 percent on books purchased from the Conference Bookstore. If you're interested in becoming a member, click here


Ever wonder who contributes to FIGT Research, from where, and in what disciplines? Participants are therapists, students, professors, researchers, government employees, counselors, and consultants, among other occupations. A third of the FIGT Research Network membership is international, with the remaining two thirds based in the United States. Research backgrounds include communication, theology, mental health, family psychology, sociology, intercultural communication, geography, borderlanders, child and family support services, and more.


Why not add your voice, international experience and cultural perspective to the body of knowledge that supports our mission? Membership in the Research Forum is free, so if you're interested in getting involved and want to learn more about research in the field, join!


If you're attending FIGT15, be sure to register to attend the FIGT Researchers Forum on Friday afternoon, March 6th. For more information, email FIGTResearchNetwork@gmail.com


FIGT Netherlands Affiliate

The second meeting of the FIGT NL Affiliate took place on January 30th, 2015 with keynote speaker Dr. Carl Steinmetz (of Expats & Immigrants, BV) on the topic of Elderly Care. The discussion that followed was interesting, and shed light on the emotional challenges many of us expats face when living far away from loved ones. FIGT NL's next meeting will take place in June 2015.


For more information about the FIGT Netherlands Affiliate, check out their page on the FIGT website or contact Co-Creators Kate Berger, Kristine Racina or Vivian Chiona at netherlands@figt.org.

FIGT Boston Affiliate

Tina Quick and Anne Copeland, co-directors of the FIGT Boston Affiliate, will be attending FIGT15, and look forward to seeing you there. If you have questions about the Boston Affiliate or just want to chat, do say hello.

The FIGT Boston Affiliate meets every 6-8 weeks in a member's home on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon for wine, cheese, networking, and a lively discussion around cross-cultural issues that impact our lives or work. If you are in the Boston area and would like to know when our next meeting is, you can email Tina Quick at tinaquick@comcast.net or Anne Copeland at copeland@interchangeinstitute.org.

Also, the FIGT Boston Affiliate has now created a LinkedIn group and welcomes you to join. The FIGT Boston Affiliate LinkedIn group is a place to share innovations, discuss ideas and develop collaborations amongst professionals in the Greater Boston area and beyond interested in the cross-cultural aspects of
global transitions.

FIGT Korea Affiliate

For more information about the FIGT Korea Affiliate, check out their page on the FIGT website or contact Isabelle Min at minisabelle@tck.or.kr.

FIGT Switzerland Affiliate

For information about the FIGT Switzerland Affiliate, check out their page on the FIGT website or contact them at switzerland@figt.org.

FIGT UK Affiliate

For information about the FIGT UK Affiliate, check out their page on the FIGT website or contact them at ukaffiliate@figt.org.


Check out this recent article, another excerpt from Insights and Interviews From the 2014 FIGT Conference: The Global Family Redefined:


Beloved Stranger: Hidden Help or Much Loved Reference Person? 

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