Heard It Through the Grapevine

01 Mar 2013 8:42 AM | Judy Rickatson

I remember the first time I heard about it, three or four years ago. I had no idea what they were talking about.

‘It was soooo amazing!’

‘It was so…so…words just can’t express how fantastic it was!’

‘I couldn’t believe how comfortable I felt!’

All these comments left me scratching my head. I wondered whether they’d been to some trendy new exotic restaurant, stumbled on a secret skin care regimen or learned a new sexual yoga position.

‘Incredible. Simply incredible.’

‘It’s so great, it leaves you wanting more!’

‘It is unbelievable how quickly you’re pulled into the experience…’

Could it be a bestselling book or a blockbuster movie? Had they found the lost city of Atlantis? Discovered the fountain of youth? Was it a scientific breaththrough removing calories from chocolate?

‘So-and-so just got back and can’t stop raving about it!’

‘I felt so ‘at home,’ so loved.’

‘Truly inspiring, I can’t wait!’

‘The emotions that wash over you are overwhelming…’

Clearly they were all experiencing something far more exhilarating than anything I could imagine. I just had to know what they were going on and on about. I gathered up the nerve to ask, and when I did, let’s just say the floodgates were opened.

I heard all about it in exquisite detail. I have to admit, it felt good to know that it was out there, that it existed, that it was a possibility.

Last year the comments shifted from statements to encouragements:

‘You’re going, right? How can you not go? It’s terrific!’

‘I can totally see you loving it. I save up all year to go, it’s that good!’

‘You would have such a wonderful time. Really, you should go.’

‘I go every year, wouldn’t miss it for the world. Come with me.’

And so the seed was planted.

During the springtime it was germinated and its little roots began to take hold. Summer brought tender shoots of greenery poking through the rich, loamy soil. By autumn it had taken shape, ripe with possibilities. Over the winter it grew and grew until finally, a couple months ago, it burst forth into its fully blossomed, glorious beauty.

I am going to the annual Families in Global Transition conference, affectionately referred to as FIGT 2013.

All this excitement and hype for a conference?! For sitting in hotel banquet rooms listening to presentation after presentation, speaker after speaker, research finding after research finding?

Yes. All that and more. Much more.

You see, as an organization FIGT focuses on being ‘the global leader in cross cultural education and training to support the entire expat family’, with one of the most effective ways they do this being their annual conference. Simply put, FIGT empowers expat families and the people who serve them in global transitions to make the most of the international experience.

This year’s theme is ‘Cultural Integration and the Illusion of Closeness.’

Here’s a two minute video by FIGT founder Ruth Van Reken about the organization and its impact:

So yes, I’m going this year.

I’ll be presenting both a Kitchen Table Conversation and an Ignite Session entitled ‘Engage, Adapt and Thrive Across Cultures with Emotional Resilience’ as well as participating on a Concurrent Session III panel ‘Blog Your Way to Expat Success’ with several fellow bloggers. I’m sure there will be opportunities to promote my new book coming out next month The Emotionally Resilient Expat: Engage, Adapt and Thrive Across Cultures.

But those aren’t the reasons I’m going. Or at least not among the top three reasons why I will attend.

And what would those be?

  1. Spend two glorious days among my tribe – people who have lived or are currently living across cultures – listening to, discussing and synergizing the latest and greatest on the issues that move us, motivate us, matter to us;
  2. Give a big hug in person to the dozen or so ‘cyber friends’ I’ve come to know and care for over the past three years as an expat blogger online; and
  3. Meet as many of the several hundred attendees as humanly possible, hear their stories, share their feelings, become energized by their experiences.

All so I can come back and share the excitement with other expats and cross-culturals living outside their home/birth/passport countries and/or cultures.

Pssst, have you heard about FIGT…?

Contributed by Linda A. Janssen, a writer and American expat living in the Netherlands with her husband and two teens. She is the author of The Emotionally Resilient Expat: Engage, Adapt and Thrive Across Cultures (Summertime Publishing, March 2013) and blogs at Adventures in Expatland

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