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  • 2019 Kitchen Table Conversations

Kitchen Table Conversations are informal 45-minute small group discussions around a table, reminiscent of the original discussions around Ruth Van Reken’s kitchen table that led to the founding of FIGT. These are lively, interactive conversations around a focused, practical topic. Choose one from each group.

Friday, April 26, 2019
Saturday, April 27, 2019
Sunday, April 28, 2019


Kitchen Table Conversations I
Friday, April 26, 2019 | 13:45-14:30 
Bangkok 101: A Mother’s View vs Her High School Child’s View

Julia Simens

Julia Simens will cover three events where her perceptions differed greatly from those of her son while living five years in Bangkok. She will share the challenges of making connections in this city. Then the group will have a lively discussion on making and keeping connections and the importance of family traditions.

Finding Home: Change, Connect and Lead for a Successful Transition “Home”

Lindy Chapman

The return “Home” is one of the greatest challenges for the expat. Lindy speaks passionately about the many aspects of repatriation from the logistical challenges of the home transition to recreating one’s career, especially after years spent as a "trailing partner". She offers a unique perspective as a real estate industry insider as well as tips on how others including herself have used their experiences and stories to make the connections needed to lead the way to new careers and opportunities.

How to Support a Family That Moves Globally with Internationally Adopted Kids: Challenges and Resources

Eunice Ra

Eunice will bring a case that shows some of the unique challenges a family faces in living overseas with kids who were adopted from other countries. Cultural integration and identity development for the family, as well as the individual, will be discussed and resources will be shared.

Reinvention Testing Room: How Being Abroad and Jobless Can Become an Enriching Opportunity to Rethink Our Personal Life or Career

Sara Coggiola

Through a playful and reflective session, attendees will discover new perspectives to look at things and consider their situation. They will find inner values and skills which will enable them to find fulfilling ways to reinvent themselves personally or in their profession.

Self-Leadership for Expat Partners: Making The Most of Your Time Abroad

Margot Stroeken

From a financially independent, career-minded woman or man back home to dependent, non-working parent abroad is a huge shift. The change of circumstances brought about by moving internationally impacts our identity, confidence level and wellbeing. In this interactive session, we explore how we can use self-leadership to lead ourselves and our family in times of transition, avoiding the trap of self-pity and instead choosing confidence, positive energy and joy.

The Empty Nest Expat: One Year of Traveling, International Relocation and Learning how Different Cultures Experience Joy

Sandra Bissell

Joy! It’s a sentiment shared and desired by all cultures. In this session, we will discuss how joy is experienced in different parts of the world and how to bring more joy into our lives as we go through life and location transitions. This interactive session will take us up-close and personal with the role of personal leadership for globally mobile individuals and families.

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Kitchen Table Conversations II
Saturday, April 27, 2019 | 16:15-17:00

Being an International and Understood

Veronique Vranken

How can we educate non-internationals? Veronique Vranken is strongly convinced that we should share our insights and take on the world with as many people as possible. We can learn from non-internationals just as much as we can learn from them. But how do we do this without frustrations and misunderstandings?

Connecting To the Local Culture Through Language

Trisha Smith-Pierce

While living as an expat, it is far too easy to feel disconnected from the local culture. One of the biggest hurdles in feeling that connection is often not speaking the local language. Through personal experience as well as language and cultural research, this session will explore the relationship between the local language and feeling connected to the local culture. It will delve into why it is worth putting forth the effort to learn the local language and what fruits those efforts may bear. It will also explore different experiences where some may have felt connected to the local culture but didn’t learn the local language.

International Moves Impacting Young People with Developmental Disability: Opportunity for Growth or a Full Stop in Life?

Rubina Anis

As someone who lives and works with globally mobile families who have children with developmental disabilities, Rubina will present to like-minded peers and professionals a unique perspective and share the coping mechanisms these families have toward disabilities. This session will also be a platform to advocate support for these families including relevant relocation organizations and representatives of international schools in order to help them understand the complexity of moving with young ones with developmental delays and how to overcome the lack of local therapeutic support. As a person from the Indian subcontinent, Rubina would like to showcase her experience as an international expat living and working within various cultures and continents to provide an eastern perspective in order to balance a heavy western approach that she normally sees being applied.

Strategies to Support Families in Global Transition with Gender Expansive and LGBTQ Youth

Laura Anderson

This session provides information for families and school personnel to be able to support families with a child or adolescent on a distinct SOGIE (Sexual Orientation Gender Identity/Expression) journey. Dr Anderson will share specific strategies for parents and school personnel to be the informed, affirming and advocating support systems that gender expansive and/or LGBTQ children need them to be.

The Expat Mother Raising TCKs

Jacqui Brelsford and Janelle Grier

As mothers, we face a wide variety of challenges in how we raise our children overseas. For some of us as TCKs ourselves, we recognize the difficulties our kids will face because we know only too well the unique trials and tribulations of their experience. For those of us expat mothers who haven’t personally lived the TCK life, we yearn for information about how to help our kids build community and develop identity, and we strive to connect to our children’s experience, something we fear we may never fully understand. Within the theme of "Connect," this Kitchen Table Conversation will allow us to share not only our parenting challenges as mothers of small children, but also brainstorm ways in which we can better understand our children’s worlds as first- and second-generation TCKs.

Unleash the Secrets of Influential Leaders: Empathy and Giving as the Power of Living

Dana Bachar

Workshop synopsis:

  • The Lounge Story -- The power of empathy
  • Emotional reading framework -- Tips and tools for influential leadership
  • Golden ties activity -- Successful keys to create a change 
  • Ripples on the lake -- the art of giving as the force of living

Volunteering: How Do We Make a Meaningful Impact, Identify Opportunities and Manage Challenges?

Ginny Philps

A discussion exploring notions of effective community participation - what should we celebrate and what might we fear from volunteering? What makes a responsible volunteer, what can volunteering offer, what skills might it require, and what should one consider before committing to volunteer work? What are the possible challenges of becoming a volunteer in a new culture and country, and what do international NGOs find challenging about managing international volunteers?

What Expat Partners Can Learn from Digital Nomads

Katharina von Knobloch

For most expat partners, continuing their career abroad is a huge challenge which often leads to frustration and a potential early return. With serial-expatriation becoming the new norm, the expat partner faces new long-lasting obstacles in the career planning. At the same time, digital nomads are on the rise. Digital nomads chose a life on the move, creating business models and professions that are flexible and location-independent. This presentation will focus on digital nomad success stories, will give insights on how these professions can be adopted by the expat partner and define the most crucial success factors for establishing a location-independent career.

When in Rome Do As the Romans Do? What Expatriates Need to Successfully Adjust, Who’s responsible For That and How To Best Support Them

Laura Brescia

This session aims to capture the complexity of expatriation and to identify the key success factors of international adjustment; to investigate current practices and the gap between what is done and could be done; and to reflect on roles and responsibilities in supporting expatriates during adjustment. In particular, the roles that organizations, individuals, local communities and accompanying family play are discussed. Findings highlight the importance of supporting expatriates through the process of adjustment and the need to adopt a whole-person approach. More attention should be given to the psychological aspects of expatriation, to the role of culture, how to develop leadership competencies in context vs context free programs, how to support expat families’ adjustment, and how to cultivate a global mindset in every employee.

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Kitchen Table Conversations III
Sunday, April 28, 2019 | 13:30-14:15

Building the Bridges for Chinese Speaking Communities

Ai Jun Liu

As non-native English speakers, in the globalization and raising of TCKs, Chinese parents encounter more difficulties in school applications and social life than native English speakers. How about other non-native English speakers? What are the common challenges for them? How to best support TCKS and parents during the transition process? Let us meet and brainstorm around this global table.

Connection, Leadership and Change in Mission

Stephanie Schwarz

This Kitchen Table Conversation will explore the importance of developing connection, building leadership and managing change in the missions sector for vitality of mission personnel.

Doing Well While Doing Good: How to Drive Business Growth While Changing the World

Sarah Black

What if there was a way to market your business or organization while also doing something good for your community? This session will take a practical look at cause marketing, which based on a mutually beneficial partnership with a cause, can help you better connect to your stakeholders, drive positive change for your business and a cause you care about, and allow you to show leadership in your field. Using examples and drawing on research, this interactive session will work through the practical steps to using cause marketing to do well while also doing good.

Expat vs Immigrant: Similar Challenges, Different Perspectives

Adrian Jefferson Chofor

What is the difference between an expat and an immigrant? One of the terms sounds trendy and the other has a negative connotation. When Adrian and her husband lived abroad, as an American, she was considered an expat, but he possesses citizenship from a country located in West Africa and was considered an immigrant by the people in the country in which they lived. They had similar challenges, but different perspectives of their experiences based on the perceptions, assumptions, and expectations of society. They are both people of color, so was the assumption cultural bias?

How Can FIGT Best Serve Its Members?

Deborah Valentine

On the last day of the conference we would like to open a discussion on how FIGT can best serve its members. With insights from the Board, as well as those brought to the table after the first two days we look forward to hearing from members and non-members alike about their thoughts on the role FIGT can take in connecting, leading and preparing for change.

Setting Yourself Up For Success in Managing Emotions in High Mobility Families

Mishell Hernandez

The world has gone through unprecedented changes in the decades since the Industrial Revolution. Rapid travel and communication have created a world for mixed races and identities apart from exchange of ideas, culture, and socio-politics. We talk about the outward effects of high mobility on people and the ethnic and racial mix of people, but what we don’t talk enough about is the effects of high mobility on the emotional development of these individuals. We cannot LEAD if we are not leaders, we cannot be leaders if we do not feel equipped to do so. We cannot CONNECT if we feel disconnected from others. We cannot CREATE change if we do not know what to change.

The Importance of Highlighting International Adoptees and Blended Families in Global Transition and in Repatriation

Florence Chabert D'Hieres

Introduction of the topic with questions pertaining to international adoptees or blended families that will serve as a starting point for discussion. Each individual will have a piece of paper with all of this written down and which key takeaways they would like to be published in the digital handout. Questions such as: Are you an international adoptee? Do you have biological or other type of siblings? Did you ever live in your country of birth? Are there different ethnicities or cultures in your family? What struggles did you as an individual encounter at school, local culture, family life or at work? What support did you receive? What support would you have liked to receive? Is there any support you would like to be present for families now? Any struggles in repatriation?

Transition for Success

Stephen Toole

The aim of this session is to connect like minded educational professionals working with third/cross cultural kids and share the work that we do. Questions that will help direct the conversation may include: How does your school help students transition in and out of your school? How does your school meet the needs of the stayer? What programs have you developed to talk about TCK/CCK issues with the students? What is being done in the area of cultural competence at your school?

What TCK Metaphors Reveal About Underlying Perceptions of Mobility, Identity, Relationships, and Agency

Amy Jung

Many TCKs struggle to describe their life experiences and perspectives and often resort to descriptive terms, including metaphors. Especially when a TCK has perceptions and experiences that are non-traditional or negative, the use of metaphor can allow them to express themselves in a sort of code that might be unseen or unacknowledged. Looking at the metaphors used by TCKs in their writings, performances, and visual works, this session examines the meanings and significance of these metaphors to better understand the individual and collective TCK experience.

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