What's it like to be at an FIGT conference for the first time? We asked FIGT Member Florence to share her experiences as a first-timer attendee, presenter, and David C. Pollock Scholar at FIGT2019.
By Florence Chabert d’Hieres
Sometimes if something seems impossible, it is worth taking the chance as you never know what will be the outcome!
I’m Florence Chabert d’Hieres, social media volunteer for the FIGT communications team. Yes, FIGT2019 in Bangkok was my first time at an FIGT conference. Through social media, I wanted to give everyone who couldn’t make it there a glimpse of what the conference looks like—but I quickly understood that FIGT conferences are simply not explainable on social media!
You have to be there to experience the spirit, the atmosphere, the conversations with people you’ve never met before. The things you learn by listening to great presenters and sharing experiences with so many people just like you! Because yes, as TCKs, we are not alone!
This amazing experience would not have been possible without my dearest friend Trisha Carter—she saw in me a value that would fit with the FIGT DNA. She said, “why don’t you apply to be a presenter?” Huh, are you sure?
Trisha kindly took the time to guide me through my proposal journey and also to apply to be one of the David C. Pollock Scholars.
I wasn’t sure what my experience as an intercultural coach could bring to the table. Little by little, I realized that third culture kids (TCK) and, more specifically, international adoptees were out there and that they gathered once a year at the FIGT conference.
Here I was, chosen to be a David C. Scholar among wonderful women. We forged close relationships and got to know each other before the conference. I especially became good friends with Matilda Criel-Ewoldt—who is now Scholarship Chair following the tremendously helpful Jody Tangredi. When we met, it was as if we had known each other forever.
The 2019 David C Pollock Scholars
Even though I kind of virtually knew a few people before arriving at the conference, I was full of mixed emotions. I felt overwhelmed and excited to leave my family and go on my own to meet my other ‘family’ at FIGT and to present a poster on my burger metaphor,* as well as on how it was to be an international adoptee...and of course wondering how I was to help our Social Media Manager, Sarah Black!
FIGT is a great community created by Ruth Van Reken—and Ruth is unique and so friendly! It was a dream come true to speak with her about my book—a fabulous opportunity made possible because I took my strength and energy and went to the conference on my own.
I met so many wonderful people from different backgrounds, but the beauty of the conference is that each and every one of them immediately understands who you are. You are just like “Wahoo! I’m fitting in, I am at the right place with the right people and at the right moment!”
Sadly, I won’t be at the conference this year. The decision was a difficult one, but I know what it feels like after the FIGT conference—it’s like a hangover, thanks to all the emotions you feel in those short three days!—and I need to be ready for a conference on international adoptees in the UK with a fellow FIGT member whom I met last year in Bangkok.
FIGT gives you wings to fly and now I want to help other international adoptees who are adult TCKs. And of course, TCKs know that they can find a third family at FIGT.
Be prepared for a rainbow emotion ride! And welcome to the FIGT family, enjoy FIGT2020. I count on my friend Katia Barthelemy to tell me all about it—another beauty of FIGT when a virtual friendship becomes real!
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The FIGT annual conference brings together a diverse group of globally mobile individuals, families, and those working with them from around the world. Called ‘the reunion of strangers’ by some, it is a unique space that aims to support the growth, success, and well-being of people crossing cultures around the world. Join us!