A showcase of FIGT Members' written work, focusing on the issues we study, the best practices we share, and the strategies we provide to support expatriates and cross cultural individuals and their families. Contributions are a privilege for Small Business and Corporate membership levels only and you can submit up to 3 posts per year. Please use our online form below to submit a blog for consideration or contact blogeditor@figt.org.

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  • 15 Feb 2020 10:34 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    “Twice-exceptionality” describes students who are experiencing both giftedness and disability, inclusive educator Sue Prior tells us.


    Interview with Sue Prior

    Note: Sue was scheduled to present at FIGT2020. This article was written before the cancellation of FIGT2020 was announced.

    Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

    I am an Australian-born daughter of British immigrants (a Scottish mother and an English father). A parent, wife, sibling, friend, and published academic author, I originally trained as a primary school teacher but quickly detoured into special education when I became fascinated with the diversity and personalized approach to learning. 

    With my husband I spent 20 years in Western Australia where both our children were born. We lived in England for a year, researching our genealogy and spending time with extended family across the UK, Europe, and the US. Through traveling, I connected with family, some of whom I had never met except in the stories of my parents. This yearning to trace family outside of Australia gave me insight into my story and increased my sense of “wander.”

    In 2006 we moved to Thailand and spent three years in an international school community in Bangkok. We then moved to yet another state of Australia, where our children eventually finished high school and moved on to further study/work. 

    I have a special interest in giftedness and twice-exceptionality, which developed after further Master’s degree study into gifted education.

    Currently, I am an executive committee member of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children and a trained parent group facilitator with SENG (Social and Emotional Needs of the Gifted). I worked as a gifted education consultant for 140 schools in Brisbane, and more recently taught in international schools in Hong Kong. 

    I am a constant traveler who loves being home, wherever that may be! 

    Please tell us more about “twice-exceptionality.”

    Twice-exceptionality or “2e” describes a relatively small but very diverse group of students who are experiencing both giftedness and disability. For example, a child might be gifted academically yet have a physical disability or may be gifted in maths yet have a reading disability.

    There is no universal definition of giftedness or twice-exceptionality but there is international legislation regarding disability, although definitions may vary. 

    In twice-exceptionality, the giftedness and the disability may mask each other in school, particularly if there are no opportunities to display the giftedness, so that a student may appear “average” or only be seen to have difficulties. There are cases where the giftedness is demonstrated but the difficulties are hidden/not identified. It can be a paradox!

    If neither exceptionality is identified or only one is identified, leaving the other issue unacknowledged/unaddressed, a student’s learning and wellbeing can be significantly affected. Twice exceptionality can be more intense than either exceptionality alone. 

    As international schools grow rapidly across the world and especially in Asia, I am looking at 2e in an international school context and its potential contribution to bridging differences.

    What are the challenges specific to an international-school setting?

    International schools are independent of the national education system. Their curriculum is different from that in the host country and they do not usually operate within the same government requirements as a local school. 

    Students with disabilities in an international school may not receive the same support available or indeed required in a government or local school. Structures, governance, and other teaching guidelines may not apply as they do in local schools.

    Why are you interested in twice-exceptionality?

    I am interested in the 2e students’ diversity and paradox/possibility of boundary-crossing or shapeshifting. In education, there is a tendency to group students by somewhat arbitrary definitions. The nature of 2e challenges these definitions and borders.

    In international schools, students grapple with many layers of identity. So this is a fascinating topic to me, having worked in education most of my life and still learning about diversity in contexts and how to nurture the best in people.

    I’d like to make more people aware of the existence of 2e, both its paradoxes and potential, and understand how we can shape environments — curriculum resources, equipment, teacher education, culture and social support — that either support or hinder growth. And that we sometimes find hidden gifts in people.

    What do “diversity and inclusion” mean to you? 

    Diversity and inclusion to me are about equity. It means valuing differences and nurturing strengths while creating an enriching environment — so that we each can belong and contribute to the greater good.

    I learned about diversity, interdependence, learning in context, and valuing student voices (and found my vocation!) in my first job as a social educator in an innovative community residential special-education school program in New South Wales. There, I worked with students aged 15-18 on developing their independent-living and community-access skills. 

    In the early 2000s, my husband, our two then-young children, and I took part in a 6-week school pilgrimage through India and Nepal to work as volunteers with some of the most disadvantaged communities and people. This journey was transformative for us and for me professionally.

    Anything else you’d like to share?

    I am so glad to have found FIGT. It offers a great mix of research, belongingness, diversity, and understanding across the world


    We are focusing on “diversity and inclusion” this month. Please join us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter to access more engaging stories and videos (publicly available for the month and then archived to the members’ only section of this website).

  • 09 Feb 2020 1:55 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Globally mobile accompanying spouses often grapple with self-identity, insecurity of legal status due to visa type, and the search for community. It’s the same for same-sex couples, says World Bank Family Network Regional Champion Scott Cowcher, but it comes with unique challenges as well.


    Interview with Scott Cowcher

    Note: Scott was scheduled to present at FIGT2020. This article was written before the cancellation of FIGT2020 was announced.

    Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

    I am an Australian who has lived in my home country for only one year out of the last 20. I didn’t plan this lifestyle — I had seen myself settled in Australia and continuing my work as the manager of a community mental health service in Melbourne.

    But in 1998, an opportunity came up for my partner of 30 years and now husband to work on HIV/AIDS in Thailand at the Thai Red Cross. A break seemed to make sense with my goals and further study plans as well...and the rest is history: 20 years, two children, and four relocations — and we are now back in Bangkok. Our son is about to graduate from high school and start university in Australia and our daughter is turning 14 years old. 

    It’s been quite a journey, not always smooth-sailing, with frustrations, depression, the surrendering of goals, compromises, new experiences, wonderful friendships, and the continued need to reinvent myself. 

    Originally, I went to art school and majored in hot glass and ceramics, having exhibited in Europe, China, and Australia. For the sake of a more balanced lifestyle and living wage, however, I decided to pursue a career in mental health and education. I now have degrees in adult education, psychiatric nursing, and psychology, as well as master’s degrees in public health and health management.

    My journey to FIGT commenced with my recent role as Regional Champion of South East Asia and Pacific for the World Bank Family Network. My role is to develop support networks for members and their families, and to support our dedicated country-based Connectors and Champions. 

    How many times have you been to an FIGT conference? 

    I attended the 2019 FIGT conference and immediately felt a sense of affinity with other spouses who have had to compromise their own careers and to reinvent themselves again and again. The conference was inspirational in the sharing of how families, children, and particularly spouses adapt to the challenges of living a more transient life across changing cultures. 

    Is this the first time you’ll be presenting?

    This is the first time I will present. I’ve identified with and shared many of the experiences spoken about by those who’ve accompanied their spouses in the pursuit of their career. I understand the experience of losing one’s professional and human identity and virtually becoming an accessory to your spouse. I felt that as a same-sex spouse with children, some of these issues presented different challenges, equally as difficult, with the added concerns of acceptance and acknowledgment of my family. 

    Please tell us a little of what you’ll be talking about at FIGT2020.

    Following your partner overseas presents unexpected challenges, which can be magnified if the relationship is considered “unconventional”. LGBTQ accompanying spouses experience many of the same struggles as all accompanying spouses: career sacrifice, loss of identity, loss of community, and fragmenting of family ties. 

    However, when you are relocating internationally as an LGBTQ family with children, the challenges and anxieties can be amplified. Different legal and social acceptance in different geographical locations can swing the experiential pendulum from positive to negative. 

    My session reflects my experiences over four relocations in three different countries with my partner/husband of 30 years. My journey began with our first relocation to Bangkok 20 years ago and the loss of professional status, identity, and friendships whilst being under a vague visa that stated I was “invaluable to my partner’s research”. 

    The journey continued in Cambodia, with our then-14-month-old son; then another child joined us as we moved to Washington DC. Washington was a rollercoaster ride: I was on a tourist visa for the first five years, unable to work, renewing my visa every six months, and trying to build a new identity and community without the legal standing to even register my children in school. But Washington also gave me deep and enduring friendships, a rich community in which to raise my children, and a satisfying new challenge. 

    The latest leg of the journey was a return to Bangkok, 20 years later, with a 16-year-old and a 12-year-old. The challenges remain similar: lack of legal status, connecting with a new community, and my changing professional goals and personal reflections as I move through midlife.

    Why are you interested in this topic?

    The topic is a story of my life — from my perspective as a same-sex spouse who chose to accompany his spouse. The unique challenges of gaining acceptance of your family, coming out in each relocation, seeking an identity as a male caregiver, dealing with a sense of failure, finding a professional role (if possible) all lead to a reflection of whether I’ve achieved my goals and am satisfied with my choices. It’s an opportunity to reflect on these issues, put a voice to my feelings, and receive feedback/validation.

    What is a message that you hope to convey in your talk?

    All globally mobile families experience the challenges differently and adapt in different ways. My experience is no more or less difficult than other families – it’s just (as the Thais like to say) “Same, Same but Different!”

    What does “diversity and inclusion” mean to you? 

    Diversity to me is about highlighting the differences between individuals and groups of people — whether it be gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, or any other parameters used in our world. It’s about appreciating these differences as adding a positive value to our life experience

    As Families in Global Transition, this means that we focus on embracing the experience and learning from the diversity that surrounds us, which I believe — although not always easy at the time — leads to personal growth and enrichment. 

    Inclusion is the natural extension of diversity. It’s taking action to create environments where people feel respected, valued, and are encouraged to reach their potential. We achieve this through embracing difference, listening carefully to each individual’s experience, not judging or evaluating experience on a scale, and being agents of change — by seeking to understand experiences from an alternate perspective.

    Equality is often enmeshed in these concepts because it’s important to strive for equal opportunities to participate in our world, whether it be through legal recognition, social acceptance, or the embracing of cultural differences. Striving for equality ensures that everybody is treated the same and social, cultural, sexual, or religious differences are not discriminated against.

    After you present at FIGT, what’s next? Any plans?

    We have just extended our contract and plan to stay in Bangkok for a further two years. This will see our son into his second year of university and our daughter into the start of her junior year of high school. I plan to further deepen my relationships across the East Asia and Pacific region with the World Bank Family Network.

    Anything else you’d like to share?

    The life of a family in global transition is like an endless roller coaster — fear, excitement, thrills, sharp turns, ups and downs, and shared experiences that make you cling to one another — but you’re never quite sure if you’ve enjoyed it completely! 

    Each time you get on the roller coaster you’re terrified. But at the end of the ride, you realize you are braver than you thought you were and you’re happy that you’ve had that experience as a family.


    We are focusing on “diversity and inclusion” this month. Please join us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter to access more engaging stories and videos (publically available for the month and then archived to the members’ only section of this website).

  • 07 Feb 2020 11:28 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Our third FIGT2020 keynote speaker is Ragil Ratnam, a strategic leadership advisor and executive coach, who uses his experiences of living and working across multiple cultures to help leaders guide their organizations to thrive in the new industrial age.


    Ragil Ratnam is a strategic leadership advisor and executive coach based in Bangkok, Thailand. Born in Sri Lanka, Ragil grew up in Zambia and is now a South African citizen. Through his career, he has lived in the US, the UK, and Singapore, and is now based in Thailand.

    With more than 25 years of global, multi-cultural corporate and academic experience on four continents, Ragil runs an independent leadership advisory practice and is an orchestrator with Duke Corporate Education.

    [Ragil tells us how being an ‘outsider’ is an advantage to be embraced.]

    He coaches executives to achieve high performance, working across Asia with recent projects in Bhutan, Indonesia, China, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Ragil also works with leadership teams on specific challenges such as developing and implementing strategy, managing organizational change, innovating, and leading across cultures.

    Ragil is a qualified clinical psychologist with training in neuro-linguistic programming, hypnotherapy, and a variety of assessment tools. Using his personal experiences of living and working across multiple cultures, he has developed tools and processes based on empathy and sense-making that help leaders guide their organizations through digital transformation, allowing them to survive and thrive in the new industrial age.

    Ragil’s list of clients span a range of industries: tech (Capgemini, Agoda, Pomelo), banking (Credit Suisse, JP Morgan), insurance (Prudential Corporation Asia), fast-moving consumer goods (Unilever), energy (Petronas, Bangchak), and manufacturing (Robert Bosch Automotive), as well as the government and international sectors (UNICEF, the World Bank Group, the Royal Thai Navy).

    ALSO: See our full lineup of FIGT2020 Keynote Speakers.

    Ragil plans to talk about how feeling like an outsider can be a huge advantage to be embraced. Join us at FIGT2020 to hear him in person!

  • 05 Feb 2020 12:07 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Families in Global Transition is thrilled that our Anonymous Donor has chosen Summertime Publishing as our Platinum Sponsor. 

    Summertime Publishing was created by longtime FIGT member and supporter Jo Parfitt in 1997 as a way to get books by and for expatriates to print; this included her own Career in Your Suitcase, one of the earliest books about portable careers. 

    Today Summertime specializes in books “by and for people living abroad, with a particular emphasis on Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and issues affecting the global family.” Its sister imprint, Springtime Books, started in 2015, is run by expat author and Summertime Publishing business manager Jack Scott, focusing on books on travel, cross-cultural life, and other genres. 

    While authoring 30+ additional books, Jo has taught writing to many, helping over 300 authors get into print. These days she also runs a popular online writing program The Life Story Jar, born out of her FIGT Keynote speech about telling your life stories at last year’s conference, as well as writing “Me-treats” — short writing holidays for wordaholics — in exotic places around the globe.

    Jo has been an integral part of FIGT’s 22-year history. “I’m proud of what being part of the FIGT family has given me on a personal and professional level. I’ve attended the FIGT annual conference more than 15 times and am always keen to give back — as a presenter, forum leader, mentor to new writers, and keynote — to the tribe that has made me. This is where I am my best self and energized, and definitely where the magic happens.” 

    Jo is equally enthusiastic about the conference theme of FIGT2020 in Bangkok March 13-15: Embracing and Bridging Differences

    “This is exactly what FIGT is all about, isn’t it? Attendees always learn so much, both personally and professionally, about breaking down barriers, softening boundaries, and making real human connections despite differences. It’s the reunion of strangers, the meeting of minds, the people, and the relationships above all.

    FIGT is honored to welcome Jo and Summertime Publishing/Springtime Books as our Platinum sponsor and look forward to seeing her in March at FIGT2020!


    FIGT is grateful to have incredible sponsors who understand the experiences and needs of the globally mobile community. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, please visit our sponsorship page.
  • 03 Feb 2020 8:04 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Meet Maddie White, a 2020 Pollock Scholar and archivist who aspires to document and preserve the histories of underrepresented TCKs—the non-white, disabled, LGBTQIA+, non-Western, and others. “We are far more diverse than the stories told about us.”

    Maddie White is an adult TCK who was born in the US and grew up in Fiji, Australia, Thailand, and South Africa, before returning to the US as a teen. She currently works at Smith College Special Collections as their Processing Archivist.

    Maddie is particularly interested in documenting and preserving the histories of TCKs who are non-white, disabled, LGBTQIA+, and/or non-Western. She believes community archiving could help foster a sense of belonging in the TCK community, through storytelling and a connection to our history. 


    How did you hear about FIGT and what inspired you to apply for the Scholarship?

    I'm pretty cut off from the expat world where I live in Massachusetts, so a few months ago, I was looking for a gathering or conference for TCKS/ATCKs. Of course I found FIGT in my search. When I was reading through the conference website, I found the Pollock Scholarship.

    I had been thinking for a long time about how hard it is to get at the history of TCKs and how great it would be to have a community archive, so I decided to apply. I didn’t think I’d get the scholarship since I have ideas but no concrete project yet. But it sounded like such a great opportunity to meet people, to develop my ideas, and to listen to other folks’ ideas, I decided to apply anyway. I feel so lucky that I get the chance to come to the conference!


    What are your areas of interest/expertise related to global mobility? 

    Right now, I am gathering information for a TCK history project. Ultimately, I'd like to collect and document the history of TCKs to create an archive. The history of TCK childhoods and adulthoods can give us a clearer understanding of who we are, our similarities and differences, and the changes to our community over time. It brings forward issues like mental health, lack of support from schools and colleges, racism, homophobia, and sexism. 

    Telling our history exactly as it happened and telling how we saw the world reveals the strengths and failures of our community and of our support, and allows underrepresented people a voice in the narrative. 

    By listening to marginalized TCKs and amplifying their voices, we can show marginalized and underrepresented A/TCKs that there are others like them who have come before, and who have survived, struggled, and succeeded. Listening to each other and sharing our histories can help build a sense of belonging that embraces our struggles, failures, successes and differences.


    How did you get into this field? Why are you passionate about it/why is it important to you?

    I am an archivist (someone who takes care of historical documents) at Smith College Special Collections. 

    When I was getting my master’s in library science, I focused on outreach to under-served communities. I asked: How do we collect and preserve the history of communities who have been largely ignored by archives in the past, and how do we make archives that continue to have a life in the community? 

    I created a project to document the history of LGBTQ2IA+ rural Wyoming by going out into rural communities to interview LGBT people about what they would want from an archive, what important parts of their history should be documented, and their concerns about donating their personal records to a public archive. 

    I would like to do a similar project for TCK history, but push it past information gathering and planning into actual collecting of historical material. 

    The project is important to me on a personal level, since I wish I knew an older generations of ATCKs who could tell me the history of our community. The history of TCKs is difficult to find at all, and when it does appear, it is often told by our parents, psychologists, and educators. 

    I want more than that. I want to know stories of our successes and failures in adulthood. I want to know stories similar to mine, and ones that go against my expectations. I want a history that includes more than the British Empire and US expansion. I want to learn from TCKs who are non-white, or disabled, or LGBTQIA+, or non-Western, or a combination of these identities. 

    We are far more diverse than the stories told about us.

     

    What do you look forward to at FIGT2020 in Bangkok?

    I'm really excited to be in a space dedicated to talking about the issues facing expats. 

    I'm also really hoping to connect to anyone who is already looking at the history and stories of TCKs/ATCKs, and to listen to the community about what they would want in an archives project. I am interested in doing an oral history project to collect the stories of TCKs, but I want to listen to the people and their needs/dreams first. 

    I know any archival project would need to be very accessible online so it could be reached anywhere in the world, would need to take the privacy and safety of current minor TCKs into account, and would need to include our schools/clubs/caretakers. 

    However, TCKs know what their own community needs better than anyone, so I also want to hear other concerns and ideas. I am especially interested in hearing ideas on how to have an archive reflect our true diversity and go out of its way to expand our understanding of what it looks like to be a TCK.

    Besides the actual conference, I'm also very excited to explore my old neighborhood and school, since ISB was where I went to middle school. 


    Can you share a random piece of info about yourself please? 

    The most embarrassing TCK mistake I ever made was when I moved back to the US (my passport country) as a teen. I asked my teacher for a rubber (i.e., an eraser), but I didn't know that in the US a “rubber” is slang for a condom. 

    My teacher looked at me horrified, and I just rephrased the sentence and moved on with my day. It wasn't until a year later when I found out what rubber meant that it clicked and I finally realized why she had looked so horrified.


    ALSO: Read Maddie’s full bio and learn about the other 2020 Scholars.

    Every year, the David C. Pollock Scholarship brings new voices to the FIGT conference and it's kept alive with your support. If you will be at FIGT2020, we hope many of you will participate in the 2020 Lucky Draw!

    We are also happily accepting donations such as books, coaching sessions, and workshops. The Lucky Draw provides a great platform for people to hear about your services and raises funds to continue the Pollock Scholar Legacy. Please contact Matilda Criel-Ewoldt, Scholarship Chair, for further information at scholarship@figt.org.

  • 30 Jan 2020 9:20 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    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! 

    The author with her posterThis 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 FIGT David C Pollock ScholarsThe 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!


    ALSO SEE:

    * Members can log in to access this resource.

    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!

  • 29 Jan 2020 3:55 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Meet Karla Fraser, a 2020 Pollock Scholar: An ATCK, global educator, and entrepreneur, Karla is committed to promoting awareness of the increasingly globally mobile diaspora of black and brown people and supporting international students transition to universities abroad.


    Karla A. Fraser is an adult TCK, expat, global educator, international higher education professional, educational consultant, expat career coach, and entrepreneur. Karla has lived in six countries (USA, Jamaica, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Commonwealth of Dominica, and Singapore) and has traveled to 45+ others.

    In 2019, she founded Roseapple Global, LLC, which provides expat coaching and student administration consulting services. Inspired by her life experiences as a TCK, global work experiences and travels, Karla wants to help others achieve their goals of expat living.

    How did you hear about FIGT and what inspired you to apply for the Scholarship?

    I learned about FIGT from a former Board Member and colleague in the higher education field. 

    I submitted a program session proposal for FIGT2020 and applied for the scholarship at the same time. I recently started my own business. As I am still getting my feet under me, I thought the scholarship would provide me the support I needed to attend and present at the conference, thereby allowing me to access and build a new network in the global mobility sphere.


    What are your areas of interest/expertise related to global mobility? 

    I want to promote awareness of the global mobility growth within the diaspora of black and brown people. I seek to connect and educate colleagues about the need for greater inclusion in study/education aboard, as well as to prepare and guide those with the desire to become expats so they have an enjoyable journey.

    I am a university administrator with expertise in student development and services. I enjoy working both with students and in handling the administrative and operational aspects of student life. I also assist higher education professionals seeking to transition into international higher education through expat career coaching. 


    How did you get into this field? Why are you passionate about it/why is it important to you?

    As a graduate student, I had a graduate assistantship in student housing, which introduced me to the field of student affairs and student services. Twenty years later and with work experience in five countries, I am driven by the tangible and intangible opportunities—via conversation, programs, or classroom teaching. My purpose is to shape the next generation of leaders in all fields. 

    Being an educator transformed my life. Education, especially of young women, can impact the prosperity of the family, community, and even a country. As a woman and an educator, I want to do what I can, even in a small capacity, to change how we innovate for the future.


    What does inclusion and diversity mean to you? Why is it important?

    It means taking the needed steps to understand your prejudices, bias, privilege, and gaps.  Once one attains this level of personal awareness, then it means being conscientious about not projecting one’s prejudices or bias on others, particularly in the context of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and age. 

    It also means that, if you are in a place/position of privilege, being cognizant of who is not at the table or does not have a voice in the conversation. Who or what perspective is missing in decision-making discussions? 

    In addition, it means: do not presume that one person can speak for an entire diaspora on any diversity or inclusive topic. The individual brings their experience and viewpoint to the table and, in some cases, can also present trends or research. This is important because knowledge can improve understanding, which can hopefully lead to increased humanity and respect for all.


    Please give us a sneak preview of what you’ll be talking about at FIGT2020.

    During my segment of the Pollock Scholars’ Morning Forum, I will talk about the need for international higher education professionals.


    What do you look forward to at FIGT2020 in Bangkok?

    I look forward to insightful dialogue around TCK and ATCKs topics while networking with like-minded colleagues across sectors.


    Finally: Can you share a random piece of info about yourself please?

    I have a passion for travel, especially combining the beach with historical sites. My goal is to have the number of countries I visit match or exceed my present age.


    ALSO: Read Karla’s full bio and learn about the other 2020 Scholars

    Every year, the David C. Pollock Scholarship brings new voices to the FIGT conference and it's kept alive with your support. If you will be at FIGT2020, we hope many of you will participate in the 2020 Lucky Draw!

    We are also happily accepting donations such as books, coaching sessions, and workshops. The Lucky Draw provides a great platform for people to hear about your services and raises funds to continue the Pollock Scholar Legacy. Please contact Matilda Criel-Ewoldt, Scholarship Chair, for further information at scholarship@figt.org.

  • 22 Jan 2020 5:01 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Ezinne Kwubiri, Head of Diversity & Inclusion for H&M North America, will be one of the keynote speakers at FIGT’s 2020 Annual Conference in Bangkok this March.


    Ezinne Kwubiri is a change agent, diversity leader, innovator, and ally. Her professional career began in the financial services industry, though she quickly set her sights to the media and entertainment industries. During her 11-year tenure at Viacom Media Networks (MTV), Ezinne served in various roles in auditing, compliance, project management, change management, diversity and inclusion, and employee engagement. 

    This thought leader is now using her talents in the fashion industry to drive inclusion and diversity in H&M’s North America market, the first of its kind in the role. 

    [ Watch Ezinne talk about her background and work, and share her excitement about meeting the FIGT community. ]

    Ezinne’s proven track record for executing with excellence, driving innovative results, and championing for progressive change, speak for themselves. She uses her experience and network to support organizations that empower young girls and service underrepresented communities. Her world view is one that upholds the values that mandate equality, access, and opportunity for all humanity.


    ALSO: See our full lineup of FIGT2020 Keynote Speakers.

    Look out for more details of Ezinne’s keynote coming soon. FIGT2020 Embracing & Bridging Differences will take place in Bangkok, March 13-15. For more information and to register, visit https://www.figt.org/Annual_Conference.

    Also read more about “diversity and inclusion,” FIGT's theme for January/February 2020.

  • 21 Jan 2020 1:47 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    For some expat pairs, it's a reality that one partner is frequently away on travel while the other is left to hold the fort. FIGT2020 presenter Rhoda Bangerter knows firsthand what that lifestyle entails. She shares some practical tips for couples to help maintain their ties.


    Interview with Rhoda Bangerter

    First, please tell us a bit about yourself.

    My husband and I are going on fourteen years of marriage. He is Swiss and I am part Middle-Eastern, British, and French. We are currently living in two different countries as he works in a non-family posting. I am a missionary kid and a cross-cultural kid, a mom of TCKs, a wife of a traveling spouse, and a life coach. 

    Why does expat partners and frequent travel interest you? 

    My husband has traveled for work over most of our time as a couple: sometimes into dangerous situations, sometimes to very nice places. There have even been times when we arrived in a posting and he was already off on a work trip. 

    Meantime, I found a home, transitioned the kids into a new school, and settled in. Or the other way around: he went on to his new job, while I sold the house, organized the goodbyes and shipped us all off to our new destination. 

    Don’t get me wrong, I was ok with doing it, although it was hard sometimes. 

    I have had enough conversations with fellow globally mobile families over the years to know that often, a big part of a posting includes a traveling spouse. Indeed, I appreciate my friends with whom I can compare notes. 

    Can you give any practical tips for spouses who are in this situation?

    Over the years, this is what I have learned helps.

    As a couple

    1. Saying goodnight and good morning every day. At the moment, we have a three-and-a-half-hour time difference between us so I text good morning to him when I get up and he texts good night to me when he goes to bed. Our neighbors have breakfast with each other every morning on Skype.

    2. Remaining friends. Any couple needs to find time to remain friends but even more so when often in different contexts. We enjoy reading a book at the same time and comparing notes after completing a chapter. A friend regularly plays a complete game of scrabble with her husband online.

    3. Creating one narrative out of two realities. We can’t always fully understand what our spouse is experiencing but taking time to share helps create one compound reality. 

    With family

    1. Return rituals. This could be a special meal you eat or a game you play that re-includes the traveling parent home. Asking each other Re-entry Questions can also help. This is ours: I will ask him what he needs/wants to do while he is home. After a day or two, I will ask him if he feels included. He will ask me what he can be involved with and what has been planned. 

    2. Creating a country profile of wherever the parent is traveling to. This helps give the children a window into the reality their parents will be seeing. 

    3. Keeping a home diary with kids’ quotes, photos of school work, anything new that has been bought, to show with the traveling spouse on their return. 

    For yourself

    1. Pace yourself: this lifestyle is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Enjoy the times of rest when you can.

    2. Ask for help: living abroad often means that the network of close friends and family lives far. Help in the home may be part of some postings, but in others, the support with day to day life may be missing. Not having brought in help is the biggest regret I hear from people. 

    3. Counseling or coaching can bring the professional resources that you need and enable you to share personal details you may not want to share with a friend. They can also help maintain stability for yourself as your situation may be in continuous flux.

    Where can we learn more about this topic?

    I am currently collecting wisdom from globally mobile families where one spouse travels for work and the other is home, whether for a season or until the children are older, with the aim of publishing a book on the topic in 2021. 

    I will be presenting the initial results of my research in a concurrent session at FIGT2020, so please find me there, or contact me if this theme has struck a chord with you and if you would like to share your tips and experience. 

    Add your voice. Share your strategies and experience by completing this survey!

    You can also find me via my website www.amulticulturallife.com, where I blog about identity, cultural dynamics in multicultural families and global mobility. 


    Join Rhoda at FIGT2020, where you can discuss this topic directly with her...not to mention meet and engage with the welcoming FIGT community!

    The FIGT blog welcomes submissions from our small business/corporate members. We seek to support members to share their knowledge and to connect, particularly on lesser-known topics. For details, contact blogeditor@figt.org

  • 19 Jan 2020 1:37 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Families in Global Transition is pleased to announce that SENIA International joins us as a first-time Silver Sponsor. 


    SENIA International is the Special Education Network & Inclusion Association, a global organization of educators, professionals, and parents whose mission is to advocate for and provide resources and support for differently abled individuals. 

    “Our vision,” according to Lori Boll, Conference and Associations Coordinator for SENIA, “is to live in an inclusive world where every individual is supported, resources are accessible, potential is maximized, and action is inspired.”

    Lori also runs International School Bangkok’s new Intensive Needs Program. She is particularly pleased that FIGT2020 will be held March 13–15th at the ISB campus, and welcomes the conference theme of Embracing and Bridging Differences

    “SENIA has known about FIGT for years. We are interested in sponsoring as we would like to bridge together families who are moving overseas to inclusive schools in their countries. Moving countries is difficult, and moving countries with a child with special learning needs is incredibly hard. SENIA can help support these families.”

    Like FIGT, SENIA holds an annual conference — this year, early December in Korea — and would like to spread the word to interested parties.  

    “I have not attended an FIGT conference yet,” Lori said, “and I’m excited about it. I’m excited to network with experts in this field. I hope people will reach out to SENIA for support and resources.” 

    FIGT shares that excitement as well. We appreciate that SENIA International is partnering with us, and look forward to seeing them in March at FIGT2020!


    FIGT is grateful to have incredible sponsors who understand the experiences and needs of the globally mobile community. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, please visit our sponsorship page.

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