Stepping up as our 2019-2020 Scholarship Chair is Matilda Criel-Ewoldt, herself a former Pollock Scholar. While researching TCKs’ coping mechanisms, Matilda was losing her own sense of her culture. She shares how overwhelming it was to finally feel understood.
Can you please briefly describe your FIGT role?
My role is to select the Pollock Scholars for the FIGT2020 conference — those who represent a missing voice at FIGT, who would be unable to attend without a scholarship. The scholarship is an outright recognition that all voices must be heard, regardless of financial situation.
As Scholarship Chair, it will be my privilege to be a supportive presence for the Scholars throughout the conference. I want to be their point of reference throughout an overwhelming time, when they are meeting new people yet feeling a sense of belonging. I believe this will be my most important role.
I’ll also oversee the lucky draw to raise funds for next year’s Scholars! I am excited about this, as it will encourage me to learn more about FIGT members and their contributions to the global nomad field.
What inspired you to stand for this particular office?
The first reason was my own experience as an FIGT2019 Scholar. I felt accepted and inspired. I bonded with my fellow Scholars and learned so much about supporting the global community, especially through exchanging ideas with experienced and knowledgeable people. It made me realize the amazing support and resource that FIGT can be.
I presented my doctoral research on TCKs and was grateful that, for the first time in my life, I did not have to explain what a TCK was, how they might think differently or have a different identity due to their upbringing — it was already understood.
I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to experience it through the scholarship.
Another inspiration was Jody Tangredi. She was the last FIGT Scholarship Chair and my main reference throughout the FIGT2019. Jody was such a helpful presence and a great emotional support, providing me encouragement and guidance and introducing me to so many different people in our community. She made me feel valued and that I belonged.
Finally, what inspired me to be Scholarship Chair was my own research background. I am currently working on my doctorate in psychology and my main focus has been on how cultural factors might affect the therapeutic alliance.
I want to provide a safe, helpful space for Scholars to discuss their own experiences with culture and their ability to cope with difficult transitions. I believe that such a space for self-exploration is necessary, especially within the socio-emotional focus of FIGT.
And I firmly believe that this platform can help us gain greater knowledge of ourselves and how to move forward.
Anything you particularly hope to accomplish this year? What do you look forward to?
I look forward to meeting the 2020 Pollock Scholars in person! I hope that I can provide a space for sharing and be a helpful guide for their FIGT experience. And I look forward to sharing ideas and experiences with the Scholars and FIGT members in general.
This year, I also hope to integrate with the FIGT community. As a newer member, I want to learn more about the members of this community.
Finally, I’ve been discussing with fellow board members many ideas for the Scholars and am excited for what is ahead!
Your favorite thing about being a part of FIGT?
The best part about FIGT is the sense of belonging. After living for quite a while in southern California, I felt lost in my sense of what my culture was and where exactly I fit in within the American culture.
FIGT gave me the courage to not feel I had to “pick” between my cultures, but rather live within the ambiguity of it all.
The presence of other people who understand the feeling of not truly fitting in anywhere was an amazing experience. For the first time, I felt heard and understood. I have never had a place to just be; the FIGT2019 was a great place to do so.
Can you share a random piece of info about yourself please?
I will be vulnerable and share this... At FIGT2019, the last day when it was all over, I cried! I felt so overwhelmed. FIGT made me feel understood and gave me such a sense of belonging that I was really sad to leave. For the first time, I felt like I had a space to talk about all of the emotions of growing up as a TCK. It just all came out that last day!
My favorite place in the world would probably be my grandparent’s apartment in Rome... When traveling all over the world, their home was a constant. It made me feel at peace — no matter how hectic our lives became, their home would stay the same. It gave me some sense of constancy when I felt like my life was turned upside down.
Please share some words of wisdom for FIGT members and globally mobile people in general!
Be okay with being yourself. For a long time I tried so hard to mold myself to new places so I could feel like I belonged. Now, I am working on letting go and just letting myself be. It’s a lot easier said than done and I still have a long way to go! But one step at a time.
You can learn more about Matilda in the board member bios section. FIGT members can also check out her FIGT2019 poster presentation on TCK coping mechanisms. Don’t miss more from our new 2019-2020 board members!