As 2018 draws to a close, behind the scenes at FIGT, the Program team is currently putting together what promises to be another fantastic lineup for the FIGT 2019 conference.
This year, we had well over a hundred proposals, a testament to the growing interest and need to share knowledge and experience for those living in global transition. Every proposal submitted is carefully reviewed by a panel of readers, made up of members of the FIGT community. It is this wonderful group of people that get first look at the voices, topics and presentations that will be shaping the FIGT experience in the coming years, and so we took the opportunity to ask a few of them to share their insights.
What new themes, topics and trends did you see in the RFP's this year? What was exciting and why?
Ruth Van Reken, CoFounder of FIGT and Author of Letters Never Sent and “Third Culture Kids, Growing Up Between Worlds.
When I read the RFPs, I was blown away by the incredible breadth of topics submitted. Compared to our first FIGT when we only offered 4 repeated sessions - one talk for parents, one for ATCKs, one for 'trailing spouses' and then our stunner--'Transition to Indiana' - the breadth and width of the topics globally mobile families face was unbelievable. Even the 'usual topics' such as transition, reentry, raising CCKs, and even global careers came in with fresh looks.
Linda Janssen, FIGT Board Director (Sponsorship) and Author of The Emotionally Resilient Expat: Engage, Adapt and Thrive Across Cultures
This is the seventh year I've been part of the Requests For Proposal (RFP) review team, and three points never cease to amaze me: growth, currency, and relevance. The first is how the presentation topics are rarely static or directly repetitive; they continually expand, extend, evolve and build upon research, themes and shared knowledge from previous years. The second is how timely topics are, reflecting what is happening in the broader world around us. The third is the fascinating manner in which those submitting RFPs will take topics and specifically drill down to how they affect, impact, or influence our globally mobile, cross-cultural community, or specific elements within that community.
Scott Keehn: Former FIGT Board Director and Conference Bookstore Manager for over a decade.
We've been at this for a number of years, so while many themes have been covered previously, what we did see were some fresh insights into good foundational topics. I was excited to see several good proposals on the theme of developing thriving skills beyond simply surviving.
Were there any sessions that you personally were pleased to see / interested in and why?
Stephen Toole, International School Educator
As an educator, I am very excited about the strong focus on education and counselling throughout the conference. I am looking forward to being able to participate in the discussions that will take place and to learn more about what different schools are doing to help students manage their TCK lives. I am very interested in the work by Ellen Mahoney (former FIGT Board Director and Founder of Sea Change Mentoring) She very engaged with the international school community and I look forward to hearing her speak about the work she is doing and how this applies to our work in helping our students understand who they are.
Daniela Tomer - Former FIGT Board Director (Programs) and Co-founder of GNW (Global Nomad's World)
As a Clinical Psychologist I was pleased to see a large amount of presentations addressing the field of mental health for the globally mobile both in research and in practice. I was also pleased to see many new names growing our diversity in terms of background, nationalities, experiences and age. I was personally happy to see many Israeli names, for me it represents the successful inclusion of other expat communities that tend to stay very close do to language barriers. I was happy to see some presentations that are coming out of the expat bubble representing other types of globally mobile lives.
Ruth: Because my realm has been primarily focused on understanding the story of children who grow up cross-culturally, I was more than delighted to see topics related to Chinese and Korean TCKs, as well as Danau Tanu's proposal to share lessons learned on the Asian TCKs experience learned from her Ph.D work in this topic. I love seeing names of those who have presented stellar and ground breaking (for me, anyway!) sessions in the past to realizing how many new names were on the RFPs and appreciating the new insights they will also offer our community. And I am so delighted to see all the topics relating to schools and education as well. Wish I could go to every single session I saw in the RFPs!
Linda: Whether you come to the conference to follow issues around a particular topic, group or cultural aspect OR you're looking for a sampling of the widest array of subject matter, you've come to the right place! The topics address such a diverse spectrum of issues: from depression to joy, stillness to taking action, care for self to care for others, professional to profoundly personal, privilege to giving back - it's all there. It excites me that each attendee can find what they're looking for - or initiate a conversation where they don't.
The conference is being held in Asia for the first time this year - what encouragement / advice would you give to members of the global community who haven't experienced a FIGT conference before?
Stephen: COME TO BANGKOK! What a great city it is to visit and take part in this 'coming together of like minded people who travel the globe'. I attended the conference in The Hague last year and it was one of the best conferences that I have been to in my professional career. I enjoyed listening to other people tell their stories of being internationally mobile. It was like being with family!
Ruth: Many ask what makes FIGT such a unique experience from other conferences they have attended. I believe no other conference offers the same broad, safe space for those from many different backgrounds who live a globally nomadic lifestyle to intermingle and share their stories with the professionals of many disciplines who work with them. Together, we have a chance to consider many aspects of this experience in one place and from many approaches that helps us all to grow and be affirmed in our shared conviction that these matters we discuss are important and relevant for our changing world. This began as a grass-roots movement and while the organization has evolved, at heart it is still a place we affirm each other, care more for growing our understanding than competing for personal or corporate glory.
Daniela: My best advice is to come and be part of the magic. As someone who was very impressed attending my first FIGT conference I can’t recommend it enough. If this is your area of interest, this is the place to be. The unique combination of content delivered by open minded, knowledgeable generous people is one of a kind. The amount of collaboration, initiations of projects, ideas coming to live is outstanding. So if you want to get a boost of energy accompanied with valuable fresh relevant content and the support of an amazing community this is the place to be!
Scott: Come with an open mind; be prepared to learn, unlearn and relearn (everything); and get ready to network and connect! As has been stated before about FIGT, we are a recurring family reunion of strangers.