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.

  • 03 Feb 2022 5:10 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    In Part One of this two-part series, FIGT member Ema Naito shares how, with a few thoughtful choices, your written and spoken presentations can reach a greater audience.

    By Ema Naito-Bhakdi


    FIGT brings together globally mobile people. That means many of us have plenty of experience talking to people from different parts of the world.

    Then why are we talking about how to use clear English at FIGT conferences?

    It’s because FIGT wants everyone—that includes you!—to feel they can fully take part in FIGT activities and that they are valuable, contributing members of this community.

    And using clear English is one of our tools to create that space.

    (I loosely define clear English as English that is understandable and accessible to as many people as possible.)

    And of course, clear English will also help us, FIGT2022 presenters, be trusted and understood by our audiences.



    What’s in this article:

    • Our audience is diverse

    • Tips for presenting & speaking

    • Tips for writing

    • Resources


    A reminder: Our audience is diverse

    Without an audience, our presentations are nothing.

    We all know that FIGT audiences are diverse, in cultures and religions, languages, passports, socioeconomic backgrounds, identities, and family structures, not to mention experiences of trauma, disabilities (physical and mental, temporary and permanent), and current stress levels.

    All these affect how we understand and engage with the world around us.

    But also remember that FIGT2022 audiences are diverse in experiences of mobility and familiarity with FIGT.

    • We have different experiences of mobility. Some of us move countries every year; some haved lived abroad once. Some cross cultures daily through family, school, or work. Some choose to move; some are forced. All different.
    • We have different levels of familiarity with FIGTOur organization is remarkable that members stay for decades, but we also welcome many new faces each year. Remember that the words and ideas we casually use (e.g., “TCK”) may be new to many.



    Tips for presenting & speaking

    So! Here are some things to keep in mind to more effectively communicate with our FIGT audience.

    1. Be aware of your word choice

    Avoid slang, figures of speech, cultural references

    In slang and figures of speech, the literal meaning of the words do not match the intended meaning.

    “I chickened out” (got scared and didn’t do something).

    “It’s so whitebread” (plain).

    “He wears his heart on his sleeve” (shows his intimate emotions honestly).

    (Can you find all 27 English figures of speech in this drawing by graphic artist Ella Baron?)

    Also watch out for cultural references, like referring to TV and film, sports, fashion trends, celebrities, and music.

    These can make it difficult for people to understand what you are trying to say.

    They also are often used to signal that we’re members of the same group—but if we don’t understand the reference, we feel left out.


    Avoid jargon & acronyms – if you must use them, EXPLAIN

    This one is especially important for our researchers and specialists! We can get so used to using certain words that we forget: not everyone knows what those words mean.

    For example, post-colonialism, translanguaging, TCK.

    Try to use as few of those special words as possible.

    If you must use technical words, have the courtesy to explain them the first time you mention them.

    Offer a simple definition. Formal definitions can often be too technical, so choose something that will let your audience easily understand and remember the concept.

    And remind people what those words mean from time to time.


    2. Use short “plain” words

    Don’t try to sound “sophisticated.” Use the shorter words.



    See “The A to Z of alternative words”, Plain English Campaign, for more.


    3. Find the action: Find the verb

    Often, we “smother” (hide) the action as nouns. But actions are more interesting and engaging, human.

    So rescue those verbs!



    If you can put the “I” and the “you” back into the sentence, then that’s even better. 


    4. Speak slowly

    Remember to speak slowly! Practice and time yourself.

    Speaking slowly will give the audience a chance to understand what you are saying. If you go too fast, more people will get lost or overwhelmed.

    Also, don’t be afraid of pauses. They can give precious space for the audience to think, feel, process what you’re sharing.

    Summary

    So! To sum up:

    When speaking

    Choose your words

    • Avoid slang
    • Avoid jargon & abbreviations – but if you must use them, explain the word first
    • Use plain words

    Focus on action

    • Use active verbs (rescue the actions from the nouns)

    Speak SLOWLY!

    Resources

    There are many great resources out there on all the points above.

    Plain language 

    Accessibility

    Design basics

    Presentations


    * Many thanks to Sarah Black, Athru Communications, for the accessibility & inclusion resources.


    Find Part 2 of this article, here.


    Ema Naito is an English editor who is passionate about clear, plain language. A bilingual third culture kid, Ema grew up between Tokyo and the US East Coast. She now lives in Bangkok, is an FIGT volunteer, and will be hosting a Kitchen Table Conversation at FIGT2022. You can find more of her tips on clear and accessible writing at www.TheClarityEditor.com





  • 01 Feb 2022 5:25 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Families in Global Transition is thrilled to announce that longtime Gold-level sponsor Patterson Partners Ltd/CrossBorder Living is now our Platinum Sponsor! 

    What made Managing Partner and Visionary Jennifer Patterson decide to sponsor this year at the Platinum level? She spoke of her journey with FIGT, growing out of founder Ruth Van Reken’s vision, and how she’s shared what she’s learned with her international financial advisory and wealth management clients:

     

    “Truthfully, I think that I owe a lot to FIGT and its broader worldwide community.”

    When I was considering increasing our commitment to FIGT, I thought back to 2007 when I first attended the conference in Houston. I resonated with the story of gathering around Ruth's kitchen table to brainstorm, comfort, seek to understand - and how that – gathering around a table ‒ was (and still is) an elegant solution for achieving a positive impact in someone's life.”

     

     “Over the years I have witnessed the idea of conversations at a single table grow to many conversations at many tables around the world. In addition, the conversations expanded from issues arising from mobility to include issues and situations arising in multi-cultural and multi-national families. Inclusivity has always been the rule.

     

    “As an individual, it helped me understand that my initial experience with being an expat was "normal". When I started expanding that conversation for myself to include the legal and mental transition from "expat" to "immigrant", I found that again, I was not alone. And as a cross-cultural parent having this context for myself helped enormously, in addition to the many resources that have come through the years.

     

    Once I understood myself better, I started engaging in the conversation more with clients ‒ ultimately dedicating my professional work to what I started referring to as cross-border financial planning with a few financial planning peers who were also cross-cultural and multi-national. My conversations with clients and peers started focusing on how to adapt and adjust the financial aspects to handle the transitions while keeping focused on the long term too, even if it's not clear exactly what that looks like.

     

    Sponsorship is just one small way of saying: Thank you for helping me so many years ago. Thank you, Ruth, for the inspiration to do more and be more. And thank you for all the positive work being brought forward to our global village by the leadership and members of FIGT."



    FIGT thanks Jennifer and Patterson Partners Ltd/CrossBorder Living for their immense, ongoing support of our organization, and of our broader globally mobile community. 




  • 19 Jan 2022 2:07 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    With previous experience serving on the FIGT Board, Megan Norton shares her goals in her new role as FIGT Treasurer, and encourages the greater FIGT community to get involved and volunteer!


    We are excited to introduce FIGT member Megan Norton in her new position as Treasurer on the FIGT board. Below, Megan has written a short message:


    Hello FIGT members!

    FIGT is one of my favorite communities to be a part of! Collectively, we have so many diverse voices and experiences; it is always intriguing to hear our members’ different perspectives and stories of both global and local transitions. 

    There are several ways to get involved in FIGT and I believe one of the most rewarding is to serve as a volunteer. I am grateful for the appointment to serve as FIGT’s Treasurer through October 2022. When I answered the Treasurer call for application in November, I was hopeful to be able to serve on the board once again. I value the opportunity to be in this leadership position and I look forward to sustaining the financial health of the organization through my role responsibilities. The onboarding process has been swift over the past few weeks and I am grateful for the Executive Committee’s embrace as I learn the duties of this position. 

    I encourage more of our FIGT members to volunteer within the board committees in order to sustain and grow our global community. You can reach me at treasurer@figt.org; I’d love to hear from you!

    Kindly,

    Megan


  • 13 Dec 2021 4:25 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    FIGT member Sinéad Galvin shares with us the delightful end-of-year holidays and traditions from Spain.

    By Sinéad Galvin

    My name is Sinéad and I am a FIGT newbie. I’m Irish and although I have lived in many other countries, Spain has been my home for many, many years. For that reason I wanted to share some of Spain’s Christmas traditions. 

     

    For families that might be celebrating their first Christmas in Spain then it is high time to learn about the Spanish Christmas customs or traditions as they might differ from those to which you are already accustomed. 

     

    Nochebuena (Christmas eve)

    Christmas eve is celebrated on December 24 and is of huge importance, it is generally a big family affair. Usually, members of the extended family gather around a feast which although differs depending on where you are in Spain will almost certainly include; jamón (Spanish ham), marisco (sea food), cordero (leg of lamb), pescado (fish), meat, wine and all kinds of desserts

    In many homes, especially with children, Nochebuena is a very exciting night: it’s when Papá Noel (Santa Claus) brings gifts to all the children who have been good during the year. Some regions of Spain have their own traditions: in the Basque Country, it’s Olentzero who leaves the gifts, while children from Cataluña and Aragón receive gifts from Tió de Nadal.

    It's really important to note that Spanish kids traditionally received their Christmas presents from Los Reyes Magos (the Three Kings) affectionately known as Melchior, Gaspar and Baltazar on 6th January. My Spanish husband never celebrated Santa but I suppose in these global items, Santa is slowly making headway in Spanish homes. Because of Los Reyes, Spanish kids do not go back to school until 8th January.

     

    Caga Tió (literally means pooping log!)

    The Caga Tió – or Tió de Nadal (Christmas Log) as he is sometimes called – is a smallish wooden log, covered in a blanket and usually given a warm, smiley face. You’ll find Caga Tió for sale in Christmas markets across the two main provinces from which he originates, Catalonia and Aragon. Come Christmas time, the log is expected to ‘poop’ presents for children and their parents, much to the amusement and amazement of younger spectators.



    El Gordo

    Although several lotteries, national and continental, take place daily and weekly in Spain, the most famous and eagerly-awaited of all is the El Gordo ('fat') draw, held without fail on December 22, even when this is a Sunday. It has been held every year since 1812, and the winning numbers are sung out by school children.

     

    Nochevieja (New Years Eve)

    Spaniards spend the final moments before the clock strikes midnight preparing to ring in the new year. People gather in plazas or homes to eat the 12 uvas de la suerte (12 lucky grapes). For each grape, you make one wish for the new year. The goal, when the clock strikes midnight, eat each grape, one by one, in 12 seconds. Most certainly not recommended for young children!


    Belens (Christmas crib)

    Beléns are elaborate nativity scenes – it is the Spanish word for Bethlehem. More than just a stable with animals and figurines, however, the Spanish beléns can be huge scenes, complete with many different houses, farms, rivers and marketplaces. They really are spectacular to see.

     

    Dia de los Santos Inocentes (Fools’ day)

    The Spanish versión of April’s fool’s day takes place on December 28th.


    Roscón de Reyes (Spanish variation of Christmas cake)

    The roscón is a sweet bread (almost like a brioche) that is baked into a circle or an oval shape. It isn’t always filled, but traditional fillings include whipped cream, chocolate cream, meringue or custard cream. It is typical to decorate the cake with colorful candied fruits, creating what looks like a king’s crown full of sparkling jewels. Bakers hide small trinkets throughout the cake, so be careful when biting into this pastry.


  • 07 Dec 2021 3:56 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    In our last FIGT focus blog on careers, member Doreen Cumberford shares the various perspectives gained from decades of working abroad. 


    By Doreen Cumberford


    The last two years have revealed fast-moving trends in the field of global careers. Covid-19 has transformed our globe in so many ways and careers have become more portable, flexible and transferable. Careers also deliver a combination of hindsight, foresight and insight.


    Hindsight


    The globally mobile lifestyle offers so much variety, novelty and complexity that this challenges our old ideas and mindset that a person needs to have a consistently focused decades long career. Careers are transforming as fast as or faster than humans. Modern careers are required to span geography, decades, and cultures. Yet institutions, governments and missions rely on stable personnel to deliver consistent productivity along the way. Technology has created a career revolution. When a two-career family or partnership is involved, the level of complexity grows exponentially.

    There is a story where someone asks a wise man, “Tell me sir, in which field could I make a great career?”, to which he answered, 


    Be a great human being. There is a lot of opportunity in that area and very little competition.” 


    While life always serves up opportunities to be better human beings, is it possible that this could be the purpose for a career also?

    More of us are becoming digitally and geographically mobile throughout all stages of life. Remote work has never been this popular and people who have been shackled to a desk for decades are now waking up to the novelty, freedom, and possibilities of international travel paired with work.  There used to be niches previously populated by diplomatic and mission services, corporate expats, NGOs, military etc. who had no choice of location.  The job and the country was dictated by the institution, now more jobs and locations are selected by the individual.

    After University in Glasgow, Scotland I was actively looking for a career that would also give me the benefits of surfing the globe and joined the British Diplomatic Service. Four decades, eight countries and four continents later I achieved that, just not in the way I had anticipated. It took leaping from government to corporate to entrepreneurship and cobbling together skills and passions along the way. 

    I was pretty sure my career had died when I moved to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1992. As a first-time mother and trailing spouse, I loved staying home for a season but a few short years later I was ready for more self-expression in the form of a career.


    Foresight


    More humans are now discovering geographical freedom in a way we have never witnessed before. This is disrupting the way we have thought about work and occupations in general. There are basically two questions we can ask regarding careers. 

     

     Where can my career take me? 

            or

     Where can I take my career? 


    More and more people are asking the second question “where can I take my career?”. 

    In the US alone there are 10.9 million people who would describe themselves as digital nomads. This is an increase of 49% since 2019, just a few short months ago!  While the majority are Millennials ranging from between 25 and 40 years of age, the average age of a digital nomad in 2021 is 32 years old. 

    There was also a substantial rise in Baby Boomers (aged 57-75 years old) who chose to become what I call “Slowmads”, nomads traveling slowly.  These are seniors many are former expats (like me), who simply decline the option to be rooted to only one place. Many are still vibrant, capable and have not given up their curiosity and love of learning to retire to a rocking chair.

    In many cases Boomers have extended their careers by simply transforming their skillset, mindset, and attention to freelance and consulting work. To that they have added a decision to live overseas again either part or full time. They are combining what they fondly call side-hustles with their previous corporate skills and making unlikely contributions designed to connect the globe and while making their unique difference. It is frequently inspiring to listen to their stories and get an inkling into their wisdom.

    Yesterday I chatted to one of these “Slowmads”. He is currently in Mexico for six months awaiting changes in the Vietnamese visa system that will permit him to return to Vietnam for the following six months. With time, talent, and resources on his hands he is using his corporate experience to build an initiative specifically for mural artists. His vision, is to provide a clearing house for artists across the globe with opportunities for them to travel, take their portable skills and offer services in other countries. 

    While the world seems shut down from many perspectives, if we look carefully there is massive activity and surprising social migration. From marketing teams to magicians, doctors to data-base experts, people are discarding their desks and making geographical leaps into our lane, the global transition lane.

    While many new digital nomads are choosing this overseas lifestyle to improve work/life balance, or seek adventure, the outcome is always predictable, there will be much to learn and reflect on. This transforms into insight.


    Insight


    As Families in Global Transition we stand at the threshold of welcoming a new community of fellow travelers who live in transition. We can open the tent flap, invite people in and share all the decades of wisdom, reflection and experience that reside within our hearts and minds.

    But what are the greatest gifts here? I believe they are a combination of the elements that our careers have deposited along the road.  Perhaps the real question should be, how are our careers leading us to become better human beings? 

    Insight frequently arrives in the form of reflection.  As we have traversed the globe, we have either packed our careers and taken them with us, or we have gone where the career led.  Many of us have done both and now share, shine, and shore up the value of all the life lessons that are built into a global lifestyle.

    Perhaps hindsight, foresight and insight are in fact what makes the world, and our careers go around.  Let’s use our globalness for good.



  • 19 Nov 2021 3:35 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    In our FIGT Focus on Career, FIGT member Nikki Cornfield shares how her global journey uprooted her career path, but led her on a journey to find her authentic self.

    By Nikki Cornfield

    As a newlywed and in the first bloom of pregnancy, the paint was barely dry on the wall in our beloved new home when he dropped the bombshell question- 


    “So how do you fancy living overseas?” 


    The question hung heavy in the air between us. 


    I was in the glorious nesting phase, and finally putting down roots after a career in the skies.  We were still reeling from the shock of 9/11, swiftly followed by the collapse of Enron, and his career; two bowling balls that had been thrown in our path sending us in a spin and the search for work. This was a time before the internet, a time before online working and a time before the term ‘global nomad’ or ‘expat’ were commonly  known.  


    I followed him to The Netherlands with a six-week-old baby, in the middle of winter and to a house I had never seen. Who was that woman? I don’t recognize her now.  


    I was naïve then, I hadn’t put much priority on what I wanted, my own dreams and aspirations I had somehow allowed to be pushed to one side. I remember the grief of leaving everything I loved behind. Without any secure foundations, those delicate first few months of transitions into motherhood were traumatic. This was the slippery slope to post-natal depression and the first layers of unresolved grief to be laid.  In a time before zoom, messenger, and social media, my life in each new country was at the beginning isolating, a blank slate to fill. Communication to friends and family overseas not the ease it is today. Not having a portable career proved my downfall but this was a time before online business was the norm. I took opportunities as they came along, spontaneity opened doors. Often, this happened without me even looking for them.  


    And sometimes, the best opportunities were the ones that didn't feel like "opportunities" at all. The freedom of time and choice meant I didn’t miss a single second of my children growing up. I was there for it all. It also allowed me time to travel, to explore places and be with my family in the long summer hols back home. I had time to study, try new things, just for the hell of it. 

    So, I don't look back with regrets, or wish I’d done things differently. I made decisions with what I had at the time.

    Have there been tears? Bucketfuls. 

    Laughter? So much. 

    New friendships? Too many to count! Some beautiful, some short, some intense and long lasting.  

    Lessons and education? Yes, along with a deep respect for anyone regardless of race, background and education. 

    Sadness and grief? Yes...

    ...but it’s all part of the human experience.

    Loss and a sense of missing out on family, special events, and life back home is an inevitable part of expat life.


    Was it worth it in the end?


    Yes. 100%. 


    I would not be who I am today, if I had stayed put. I love the lenses through which I now view the world. They are clear, wide reaching and have a depth and clarity on the important things that make life special. And I have a memoir written that without my journey would not exist. It is through the journey after all, that we find the road home to our authentic self.


    So where am I now in my career? Right at the beginning and a feeling that I was left behind. A good dose of frustration and a feeling of not quite knowing where I fit in to this new fast paced online world. But, I am building my career, my way, and my unique experiences give me strength, and confidence as I move forward. 


    “So how do you fancy living overseas?” 


    To anyone facing this same question, my message is one of preparation. Don’t do what I did and become unhappier with each move, less and less confident and falling completely off the bottom ring of the career ladder. Instead, ask the questions, voice your needs, they are just as important regardless of your earning capabilities.  


  • 02 Nov 2021 4:10 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    FIGT member, Daniela Draugelis, explains how a strategic volunteering can make a difference in someone else's life, while also giving your own career a boost in the right direction. 


    By Daniela Draugelis

    Michelle Obama said, “Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” Making a difference through volunteering is a great way to merge purposeful work while at the same time adding value to your career. 


    Many expat spouses find themselves unable to work when they arrive in a new country due to the lack of a work visa or work permit, which can lead to disappointment and frustration, and a sense of loss. However, strategic volunteering offers an opportunity to maintain or even develop new skills while making a difference by giving back to an organization or community. 


    Strategic volunteering is essentially volunteering with a goal in mind. Not only are you giving back to an organization and its constituents by donating your time and energy, but you are also gaining new experience, skills, and connections. This targeted volunteering approach can in turn help propel your career in the right direction when you move to your next destination or repatriate back home. 


    To ensure strategic volunteering benefits your career goals, consider the following:


    Decide what skills you would like to enhance or develop

    Think about your past experiences, research the skills you might need in the future if you were to start your own business or shift careers. It is during volunteer pursuits that you can develop the leadership, public speaking or presentation skills you always longed for. Sometimes expat assignments are great opportunities to pause, explore and try something new. Take advantage of the opportunity that being in a new country gives you to learn a new language! 


    Pick causes that interest you

    If your ultimate goal is to work with a specific constituent (i.e. children, the elderly, etc.) or issue (i.e. mental health, animal rescue, etc.), try to find organizations in your host country that serve those groups. Try to find publications, talk to people at the international schools, embassies, churches, who may be able to help you find these organizations. Some International schools also offer great opportunities for parents to volunteer through their Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) to get involved in activities like fundraising, event planning, hosting events for arriving families, managing the gift shop, etc. Leverage your network to find the opportunities that fit you best. 


    Find an opportunity and organization that fits your goals

    When selecting a volunteer opportunity, take the time to consider other factors like: how much time are you willing to commit? Do you prefer larger or smaller organizations? How much travel is required? Are you willing to take on a leadership role, or do you prefer to be a member of a team where others lead? Whichever option you choose, know that the organization will be grateful for the time and effort you put into it. 


    Start your own volunteer venture

    Maybe you identify an opportunity to serve a segment of the community that is currently not being addressed, or you have a brilliant idea to start your own volunteer organization! You may propose your own passion 

    project or a new volunteer role to an existing nonprofit organization. One of the great benefits of the constant change in the expatriate community is the endless flow of new ideas that help these organizations grow. 

    Ideally, in order to make the most of these strategic volunteer opportunities, you will want to make sure that you are producing measurable outputs that can be translated into accomplishment statements on your resume, so you can add these new skills to your resume and LinkedIn profile.


    In the end, you will find that employers highly value recently gained professional skills and experiences, whether they are acquired from a paid job or in a volunteering role. But the most important thing is that your volunteer experience will allow you to walk away knowing that you made a difference in other people’s lives. 



  • 02 Nov 2021 4:01 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Families in Global Transition would like to thank multi-year Silver Sponsor American Psychologist for their support of our organization and our broader global community.


    Dr. Mark Burdick is a dual-credentialed educational and licensed psychologist in the US, a UK Chartered Psychologist, and an EU Agent and Independent Educational Consultant well versed about services, programs and schools for families living around the globe.

    As founder of American Psychologist / Burdick Psychological and Placement Services, Mark runs a family-based, concierge psychological services provider, consultancy, and education and treatment placement agency that has been providing solutions to expats for over 30 years.

    So what has driven Mark to sponsor at the Silver level?

    “As an adult Third Culture individual myself, and a psychologist conducting international services, I have found FIGT the one and only place where we talk openly about the possible downside of overseas life.”

    During 2020 and 2021, Mark was joined in sponsoring by colleague Steven DeMille, Ph.D. LCMHC. As Executive Director of RedCliff Ascent, Steven specializes in wilderness-based family therapy and has contributed a chapter on the its practical use in Family Therapy with Adolescents in Residential Treatment.

    FIGT is appreciative of Mark, Steven, and American Psychologist as a Silver sponsor, and their work in the world.



  • 09 Oct 2021 1:27 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    As part of our FIGT Focus on Career, FIGT member Petra Canan Trudell shares how living internationally caused her to build a career better than she could have imagined. 

    By Petra Canan Trudell


    We all dream of the day we’ll start our first “big kid” job. That first opportunity to showcase our talents and start building a career—and a life—we can be proud of. The culmination of so many years of study and training.


    But what if that first opportunity doesn’t come? Or if it does, what if it doesn’t last very long? 


    For me, graduating into a recession and an industry in freefall made it all that harder to land a role that made me feel like a real adult with real responsibilities. And once I did, I never would have predicted that in less than two years, I would walk away from all of it.

    As a kid, I only ever wanted to be one thing: a journalist. I grew up watching the nightly news with my parents, soaking in every local and national story. My first hero was pioneering female investigative reporter Nellie Bly and it’s safe to say my first love was Peter Jennings of ABC World News Tonight. I imitated Barbara Walters in my bedroom mirror and wrote for my student newspapers from elementary school through college.


    But on the day of my graduation in 2009 from Michigan State University—home to one of the top five journalism schools in the U.S.—I had zero job prospects and fewer plans. In the year and a half that followed, I bounced from city to city and internship to internship hearing the same line: “You’re amazing, but we don’t have any money to hire you.”


    So I moved back to my home state and took a copywriting job, determined to keep writing until something I really wanted came along. And in no time at all, I fell into a comfortable routine. I had a salary and eventually a team of my own to manage. I was finally on a more set path, until an opportunity came along that my new husband and I couldn’t pass up: the chance to move from Detroit, Michigan to Tokyo for a promotion my husband was offered. A fellow journalist, the chance to report from abroad was a dream to come true for him. I was so proud and, if I’m being honest, more than a little jealous.


    Given that my current role wasn’t the one I’d hoped for anyway, the decision to leave was easy, at least at first. I never could have predicted how difficult the transition would be going from working full time—sometimes multiple jobs at the same time—to having nearly nothing to do all day. With no Japanese language skills, I didn’t have a clue what opportunities did or didn’t lay ahead of me in our new home and the pressure quickly overwhelmed me. I spent much of our first year in Japan working through a bout of depression that kept me mostly shut away in our small apartment, insisting to everyone back home I was perfectly fine.


    I felt my identity—the one I’d dreamt up and worked for ever since I was a little girl watching news magazines on Friday nights—had been stripped away, leaving behind a smiling, nodding “trailing spouse.” I was at the beginning of my career, but the moment I collected my visa marked “Dependent” it already felt over.


    Thankfully, I met some amazing women who not only understood the identity crisis I found myself in at only 27 years old, but who extended lifeline after lifeline and opportunity after opportunity wherever they could. One introduction led to another and eventually I found a full-time schedule of contract work for multiple clients, which ended up being the perfect fit. I loved the freedom of managing my own time but also felt I was contributing equally to our household. I ended up building an ideal work-life balance that fulfilled me professionally and personally. 


    But in the three moves that have followed, detaching my identity from my work is something I still struggle with. Especially as a woman, we fight so hard for a place at the table, that to get up and leave it—voluntarily or not—feels terrifying and almost ludicrous. The majority of people who fall under the label “trailing spouse” are women and at times it can feel like we’re constantly fighting against stereotypes like being “kept,” or having our achievements glossed over when standing next to our spouses. 


    But the work we do—in whatever form it takes—matters.


    While I was proud of the work I did in Japan professionally, I was most proud of the confidence I gained in myself throughout my three years living there. I was thankful for the opportunity to forge my own path and glad I decided not to let myself, my talents and everything I’d worked for fade into the background. Now on my second international assignment, I feel better prepared to advocate for myself and make the connections necessary to keep my career moving forward, however nontraditional it may be.


    It’s not the career path I dreamt of, but in a lot of ways it’s better than anything I could have imagined.


  • 07 Oct 2021 1:05 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)



    As a non-profit organization operating worldwide, many people recognize that the survival of Families in Global Transition depends in large part on membership fees and any profits earned from our annual conferences. 

    But did you know that there is a third factor essential to our growth and success? It’s sponsorship: investing financially in FIGT at a higher level.


    First and foremost, sponsoring means partnering with FIGT. 


    It demonstrates your business or organization’s involvement with, commitment to, and investment in our mission, our values, our membership, and the broader worldwide community we support. 

    Sponsorship also offers increased visibility year-round, showcasing you, your mission, and your efforts. Not only being featured and having special privileges at our annual conference, but throughout the entire year.

    Popular Sponsorship packages include the Platinum, Gold and Silver levels. Customized, higher-level corporate packages are available as well. We even offer a lower-cost, digital-only option as a Patron.

    We believe that good sponsorship builds on membership, so each level (with the exception of Patron) includes membership as well as conference attendance. 

    Interested in becoming an FIGT sponsor, or would like to learn more? We welcome you contacting sponsorship@figt.org for a relaxed, no-pressure conversation about how we might partner together. 

    Our sponsors know when they’ve found the right fit, and we do, too.


    Come join us!



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