The FIGT community welcomes new members to its Board, beginning October 1st. In this post, incoming Membership Director Kathleen Smith answers a few questions about herself and who she wants to 'invite to the table' in her new role.
Can you please briefly describe your FIGT role?
My FIGT role will be Membership Director on the Board of Directors, starting in October 2021. My work involves developing strategies for inviting people to the FIGT table, and doing my best to serve them well.
What inspired you to stand for office?
Standing in front of a Piet Bekaert (Dutch) signed print, in an antique shop on the Gulf of Mexico, I just couldn’t move. I was mesmerised by the colours, the design of a table with wine and bread just waiting for the empty chairs to be filled with people. As I couldn’t stop looking at this print, two of the shopkeepers came up to me and said, “All artwork is 50 percent of today, dear.” Sold!
The hard part was getting the artwork on the airplane to the UK. The customs agent didn’t look happy. “It’s a cm over size,” he said. I replied that I had to take the print with me! Hovering around the desk as the agent made a decision, I was thrilled when he smashed some of my bubble wrapping, “OK. It can go!”
There was just something about the table in this print, a table welcoming and waiting for people to take their place. This has been my inspiration for every family Thanksgiving (and most of us are not American), looking at the place settings and asking myself “who is missing?” Often we know immediately who is missing around our kitchen tables, but this scene has me wanting to look deeper and further to see who is missing around our FIGT kitchen tables, and then invite them to join us- even if there are days when we need to squeeze in a little.
Anything you particularly hope to accomplish this year? What do you look forward to?
I hope to enable greater diversity around our kitchen tables, as we Zoom, WhatsApp, phone chat; and I look forward to someday meeting everyone in person!
What’s your favourite thing about being a part of FIGT?
My favourite thing about being a part of FIGT is the privilege of meeting and getting to know people from all over the world who are living this life outside our passport countries. We are a people of shared values.
Random piece of info about yourself?
I’m learning Biblical Hebrew! My new craft project (I’m not that crafty) is to make slate signs of Hebrew names of my grandkids.
Any words of wisdom or thoughts on the impact that Covid has had on our community?
As a member of the British National Health A&E (ER) youth support, I’ve seen first hand the impact Covid has produced in increased rates of stress. Connection with all generations is increasingly important as we look at new ways of connecting locally, regionally and globally. In all our calls, global coffees and Zooms we say “I see you!”
FIGT has great impact in the way we speak to and about each other. Have you ever noticed how members of FIGT speak about other members? So positive! This positive encouragement is increasingly rare in the world, so let’s continue to enjoy and encourage each other!