I was first attracted to FIGT when I heard that the term STAR (Successfully Travelled and Relocated) had emerged from this forum. Since then, FIGT has been on my bucket list. I started working with ACCESS (a not-for-profit volunteer based organisation in the Netherlands which serves the international/expatriate community) and at the start of 2015 decided to aim to make it to the FIGT 2016 conference. My goal was made achievable when I learned that it was coming here, to the Netherlands. So, yes, I will be there, because seriously, how often does your bucket list come to you?!
Going back to what drew me though, the term STAR, and where I am today.
I am, myself, a STAR. I have relocated as a child, a student, a professional, a newlywed, a spouse, a parent and divorcee. That I have done so successfully is as much due to my character as it was to the foundation I was given by my parents who ‘started’ me on this journey. As I matured and travelled, I realised that this foundation was a privilege to have received, and not a given. I have come across many, many people who, despite being enthusiastic or determined to make the most of an expatriate assignment, struggle to make it a successful experience – for themselves and their families. I have learnt to ‘hear’ the silent calls for help from those struggling (yet perhaps not admitting it) and to listen and guide people to how they can flourish rather than just survive.
It is, therefore, perhaps not surprising that my role at ACCESS also fell onto my lap – as if a lifetime of experience had prepared me just for this specific role: bridging the gap between arrival and successful settlement, not only for the anonymous public we serve, but perhaps more importantly for the volunteers we work with in order to help the others.
In fact, I like to think that at ACCESS we take DARERS (Daring Adventurers Resolving to Explore Relocation Successfully) and give them the wings or roots to become STARS (Successfully Travelled and Relocated) – here or elsewhere.
I will be at FIGT to learn more about all the wonderful and necessary things being said, done, researched, explored, exchanged and experienced so that I too can ‘shine’ a little brighter and learn a lot more. For one thing is clear in my mind: STARS may shine in isolation, but they can only burn brightly with support. Thank goodness for forums such as FIGT which encourage this.
Deborah Valentine is Canadian by birth, expat by upbringing and for the last 6 years Director of ACCESS, which is dedicated to helping internationals settle in the Netherlands.
To our readers: Deborah provided three alternatives for the DARERS acronym:
Determined And Resolute Expatriate Relocation Survivors
Determined Adventurers in Resolving and Enduring Relocation Stress
Daring Adventurers Resolving to Explore Relocation Successfully
Which do you prefer?