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 welcome from current members, please use our online form below to submit a blog for consideration.

  • 06 Jun 2019 12:23 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    The Renaissance St Pancras Hotel was this year’s spectacular backdrop for a groundbreaking night for Families in Global Transition. From humble roots around Ruth van Reken’s kitchen table in Indianapolis to a truly international organization celebrating its 21st year, FIGT has touched the lives of countless individuals, families and organizations navigating international transition.

    At this year’s ceremony, Families in Global Transition was recognized for this work, winning the Excellence in Employee & Family Support at the 2019 Relocate Awards.

    In addition, we delighted to see so many of our FIGT family also recognized, including Board Member Anne Lessle, winning Best Research Contribution - Academic Research, and ACCESS, receiving highly commended in the Excellence in Employee and Family Support.

    Ruth van Reken, one of those founding members, was heartfelt in her response:

    “When first hearing about this award, I felt a rush of emotions--joy, gratitude, awe, and completion. Joy that after the initial birth pangs four women felt at my kitchen table 21 years ago, the baby we ultimately gave away for adoption has indeed become an adult!

    Second, gratitude. Gratitude for all who have nurtured her into this adulthood.

    Third, awe. Awe that her amazing adult beauty and power are now visible and recognized by others.

    Fourth, completion. Completion such as parents feel while watching a child graduate and know their baby has been launched to continue growing in new ways not yet fully seen.

    Yes, the dream begun at the same kitchen table from which I write these words has happened above all we could have asked or hoped for. My heart is satisfied.”

    The Relocate Awards have earned a reputation as the industry gold-standard for their independence and recognition of creative and innovative approaches to global mobility. Over 60 entries made the independent judges’ shortlists this year, highlighting the huge energy employers, global mobility service providers, education consultants, schools, HR and global mobility experts are directing towards meeting today’s talent challenges in innovative ways.

    Echoing a sentiment that has long been at the core of FIGT’s mission -- to support the growth, success and well-being of people crossing cultures around the world - Relocate Global’s managing editor Fiona Murchie noted:

    “Every entry, shortlisted, highly commended and category winner, is the result of untold hard work and commitment to the cause of putting people at the heart of global mobility. All our winners have made an outstanding contribution to their companies and people’s lives and we congratulate everyone on their achievement.”

    On the evening of the Relocate Award Gala evening, FIGT Members Simon Fitch of TASIS and Deborah Valentine of ACCESS-Netherlands (both also shortlisted for an Award) hosted a friends of FIGT who available to join in the celebrations.

    True to the FIGT 'reunion of strangers' character, Deborah and Simon were delighted to reconnect with FIGT Sponsor, the International Family Law Group, represented by Lucy Greenwood, Anne Lessle and Claudine Hakim (also short-listed members); FIGT2019 conference presenter Edward Cole and colleague and Simon’s colleague Mary Mitchell.

    Added to the joyful group were some future members, as well as friends of friends: Samantha Davidson, Geraldine Collett and Stacey Vickers - yet another shortlisted candidate and ACCESS Partner from The British School in the Netherlands.

    All in all, a wonderful array of friends new and old!


  • 16 May 2019 4:51 PM | Anonymous

    Having an FIGT member reflection Kitchen Table discussion at #FIGT2019 was simply wonderful. To hear from people during a conference, members and non-members alike; first-time conference attendees as well as returning conference attendees was very inspiring -- with some healthy challenging questions which can only make us better!

    One of the challenges I, personally, have had serving in this role is distance -- physically as well as experientially. My own motivation, expectations and reasons for joining FIGT do cloud my perceptions. Human nature does this. As open minded as we aim to be, it is only when we listen that we truly appreciate, and learn. So, first and foremost I would like to THANK those who came to the FIGT Membership Kitchen Table in Bangkok -- your views, insights, contributions to and participation in the discussion were truly inspiring!

    Our members of course, invest in us, FIGT -- so that we can exist as a resource for so many. We do however, have a duty towards that trust: in knowing how we can best serve those who invest, and trust us. So, since FIGT is far MORE than the conference, I would like to invite anyone reading our newsletter -- member or not, conference experienced or not -- to please accept this invitation to send me your thoughts, reflections, opinions (positive as well as critically constructive) about FIGT’s membership options, policies, fees and privileges. I know doing so by email means it is not ‘anonymous’ -- but I promise to keep you anonymous. I would love to develop a community based survey with the input from YOU versus simply my own thoughts.

    I have input from those who came to the Kitchen Table at #FIGT2019. Do you also have something to share? Please do so, by emailing me at membership@figt.org, so I can develop a survey for all our members, past conference attendees and newsletter subscribers in order to assist the person who will fill my role later this year in giving further direction and purpose to FIGT’s Membership.

    Thank You.

    Deborah Valentine
    Membership Director

  • 16 May 2019 8:47 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    It was exciting to see #FIGTMember and Tandem Nomads founder, Amel Derragui, featured in the South Korean Magazine “Weekly Woman” alongside some powerful Korean women entrepreneurs.  In the article, Amel describes the career challenges for expat spouses and acknowledges the crucial role these spouses are for assignment success.   As the numbers of Korean expats increase around the world this will be a growing area of interest.

    We have been seeing amazing reports of book launches for #FIGTMember, and author, Mariam Ottimofiore.   There was one at her current home in Ghana, and at another place she calls home -Dubai, there was a join launch with Santa Fe Relocation, and the night before #FIGT2019 began in Bangkok. Congratulations Mariam on your beautiful book –it has received excellent reviews from many #FIGTMembers and experts.

    Featured not once but twice, by different writers, in the same edition of online and print magazine, Beijing Kids, was #FIGTMember, author and #FIGTBoardMember, Tanya Crossman.  Tanya shared her expert understanding of Third Culture Kids in the feature, Parenting Third Culture Kids; What are they and how can you help yours? P 45-46 and she is also quoted in the article Raising Third Culture Kids P 51-53.  It’s an interesting magazine wherever you may live and was great to see Tanya’s expertise highlighted.  It can be read online here.

    Congratulations to #FIGTMember and podcaster Sundae Schneider-Bean who shared the exciting news that her podcast had just broken into the Top 100 iTunes podcast in the USA for Places & Travel and is at number 28 in Switzerland!

    Impressive achievements from the few #FIGTMembers described here.  We also acknowledge the quiet achievements of each and every one of you as you live your global lives with grace, humour and resilience wherever you are.

  • 06 Apr 2019 4:40 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)


    Breaking news - FIGT has been shortlisted for Relocate Global’s Think Relocate 2019 Awards in the Excellence in Employee & Family Support Category.  It’s tough competition, or you could say, – we are in good company, along with #FIGTMember ACCESS who are nominated for their work in The Netherlands assisting families as they adapt locally.

    Also nominated are #FIGTMembers; TASIS The American School in England in the School Providing Outstanding Relocation Support Category and #FIGTMember, #FIGTBoardChair and Researcher, Anne Lessle in the Best Research Contribution Category.   Anne will be presenting that research on expat spouse adjustment at #FIGT2019 so you can learn more about it at her Poster presentation at the conference. 

    #FIGTMember Joyce Jenkins is looking forward to a different conference.  Joyce is President of SIETAR UK so has been tweeting about the SIETAR EUROPA Congress in Leuven May 27-29th.  She will join us in Bangkok first, so if you want to learn more about SIETAR look out for Joyce.

    The big news for #FIGTMember Mariam Ottimofiore has been the upcoming release of her new book –‘This Messy Mobile Life’.  There were many congratulatory comments on Mariam’s FB feed.  She is very excited to receive her new book which will be launched just before #FIGT2019 and will be available in the bookshop.

    On LinkedIn, #FIGTMember Ellen Mahoney shared stories of her travels and work at International Schools including at Western Academy of Beijing.  She has also been sharing about her upcoming presentation at #FIGT2019  where she will share the results of research conducted with another #FIGTMember, Jane Barron of Globally Grounded, looking at transition support in International Schools.

    On a more sombre note #FIGTMember Trisha Carter, an expat kiwi, shared a tweet from Christchurch, New Zealand, at her old university where students honoured the souls who lost their lives in the Christchurch terrorist attack by gathering for the call to prayer. As she described it, a hauntingly beautiful way to remember.

    We wish all our #FIGTMembers well, especially those who are nominated for the Think Relocate Awards.  The announcement of the winners is on May 15th and we will be keeping our fingers crossed for FIGT!



  • 05 Apr 2019 1:55 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    As we countdown to #FIGT2019, here are a couple of quick tips for those wondering about what to pack, where to eat and how to navigate Bangkok.


    Weather

    Late April is going to be hot – around 28-34°C /82-94°F. Light clothes, sandals but with the A/C blasting inside, bring another layer to stay warm inside! Air quality is usually good in April.


    Getting Around

    If you’re staying in the Sukhumvit Road area around NIST, getting around should be pretty easy. You may even be able to walk to NIST from some of the hotels with whom FIGT has negotiated discounts. For example, the Movenpick is a 5-10 minute walk.

    Traffic can be a pain in Bangkok so if you’re planning to go far, then public transport is recommended – either BTS or Metro. There is no Uber but you can download the Grab app for a similar service – you can pay cash or use your credit card. You will see plenty of tuk tuks which can be very expensive but tempting as a visitor experience! There are usually motor taxis outside NIST but these are not recommended on main roads.

    Taxis from the airport are pretty easy; they charge a little more than the meter for the airport fee & possible tolls if you take the highway. If you are staying in the Movenpick, they have a shuttle that goes to Terminal 21/Asoke bts station, which is great for outside the NIST shuttle hours.


    The Neighborhood

    NIST is in the center of the city so lots of options for eating, shopping and just relaxing with new and old friends from FIGT!

    • Soi 11 is within walking distance of NIST with lots of bars and restaurants. There’s even a Starbucks for those who need their ‘fix’. Our team recommend Soho for NY pizza place and Brew, a bar with decent burgers in an attached restaurant.
    • Also within walking distance is Terminal 21, a huge mall with shopping and restaurant options. If you are staying in the Movenpick, they have a shuttle that goes to Terminal 21/Asoke bts station.
    • The team recommend Cabbages & Condoms which provides good Thai food and supports a great local non-profit.
    • Right outside NIST are a couple of street food vendors – our team recommends the fresh fried rice and the rotis that are sold at the end of the school day.


    What else should I check out?

    • There are lots of rooftop bars/restaurants which are fun, but it might be too hot.
    • Make sure you have some mango sticky rice before leaving.  It’s everywhere.
    • If you go to Wat Pho temple, where the reclining Buddha is, you can also get a fun astrology reading if you like that kind of entertainment.
    • There are many massage places to pick from & everyone will suggest a different favorite. For something quick, our team recommends Silk or Baan Dalah. If you want a full private experience, Asian Herb Association is pretty reliable.


    For more tips on making the most of your time in Bangkok, please visit https://www.figt.org/2019-Hotel


  • 05 Apr 2019 1:52 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Families in Global Transition has been fortunate to have Worldwide Speech as a longtime sponsor, but this year is special: not only are they renewing for a fourth year of sponsorship, they’re upgrading to Gold as well.


    Worldwide Speech was built with the mission of making it possible for children with special needs to attend and flourish in the international school setting. They are committed to giving children the opportunities they deserve; their therapists are licensed practitioners, and they make hard-to-find services like speech therapy and reading intervention available by providing sessions online.

    Founder Erin Long is herself a member of the expat community, having now lived in five different countries, and raising her own children in this lifestyle. She directly interacts with international schools and knows the community her company is serving.

    “Our primary service is providing online services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy and academic tutoring,” Erin says. “Our value, however, is not just in our services, but our understanding of the international schools and mobile community.”

    Attending and sponsoring the FIGT organization and 2019 conference holds a two-fold benefit for Worldwide Speech.

    “FIGT offers a wealth of opportunity to speak with like-minded people and attend sessions that directly address my professional and personal life,” she explains. “As president of the company, I find FIGT is an amazing environment to meet and hear the stories of people and how they help their own children in the international setting.

    “I am also personally invested in the expat life and community as a person working, raising children, and creating a fulfilling life as an expat. This group helps me develop a clearer understanding of what works for families like my own.”

    We are thrilled to have Worldwide Services and Erin continue their sponsorship at the Gold level, and greatly appreciate their ongoing support. We look forward to seeing them in Bangkok at #FIGT2019!


  • 05 Apr 2019 1:49 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    One of the best signs of a great sponsor is when they choose to renew. Families in Global Transition is thrilled to report that American Psychologist, headed up by Dr. Mark Burdick, is returning once again as a Silver Sponsor.


    BPPS (Burdick Psychological and Placement Services) / American Psychologist is a family- based, concierge psychological services provider, consultancy, and education & program placement agency located in Amsterdam. With five offices registered in the EU, UK, and US, they serve families worldwide, providing continuing support to their families during and after placement. Many of their clients have youngsters with learning or emotional issues. But not all: others are exceptionally bright and need a challenge or better educational fit. 

    “American Psychologist travels the globe – yes, making house calls – to help support expat families at risk,” Mark explains. “Whether it’s for assessment and expert recommendation for treatment or education, we’ve been providing solutions to expats for over 30 years. I’m particularly looking forward to the upcoming conference in Bangkok, as it’s an opportunity to introduce one of our unique services: our addiction support to challenged expat families.”

    Another sign of a truly dedicated sponsor? Recognizing when others might benefit from connecting with and supporting FIGT’s mission and global community.

    Here at FIGT, we like to say that “our sponsors know when it’s a good fit, and so do we.” Mark epitomizes this belief, as he is the person who recently brought fellow Silver Sponsor Solebury School into the FIGT fold.

    At a conference in Switzerland late last summer, he met Solebury’s Director of International Recruitment and fellow Adult Third Culture Kid, Jennifer Morrissey. Mark told her all about the FIGT organization and our annual three-day conference, and convinced her of the advantages of becoming involved. Having one sponsor help enlist another is a positive development, indeed!

    We welcome back American Psychologist as a returning sponsor, thank Mark for his continued support of FIGT, and look forward to seeing him #FIGT2019 in Bangkok.


  • 26 Mar 2019 11:41 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Families in Global Transition is delighted to announce another new sponsor: Solebury School, an American college-preparatory boarding and day school for grades 8-12, located in the bucolic hills of New Hope, Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia.


    What brought FIGT to Solebury School’s attention? A typical cross-cultural connection, of course.

    While attending a conference in Switzerland, Solebury’s Director of International Recruitment, Jennifer Morrissey, met Dr. Mark Burdick. (FIGT community members will recognize Mark, of American Psychologist / Burdick Psychological and Placement Services, as a returning Silver Sponsor.) Mark told Jennifer all about the FIGT organization and annual conference, and urged her to attend.

    It’s not surprising that Jennifer’s work in international admissions would elicit her interest in being part of #FIGT2019 in Bangkok on April 26-28. But there’s more to it: Jennifer is an adult Third Culture Kid.

    “I was born in Canada, raised in Europe, traveled in Africa, and came to the United States as a student,” Jennifer explains. “I earned my B.A. in International Studies from Russell Sage College and have devoted my career to both the secondary and higher education levels in international programming, recruitment, admissions, and teaching. My international travel has allowed me to meet many wonderful people around the world, and reaffirm my belief that in sharing our cultures, we will discover more in common with each other than differences.”

    One can see why someone like Jennifer would wind up at Solebury. The school is committed to educating global citizens, including students from other countries. In addition to attending to earn a full diploma, international students may choose from other options including half-year, one-year, Exchange, Summer, English as a Second Language university prep, and Post-Graduate programs.

    Recently, Solebury has added an exciting new initiative – The Solebury School Scholarship for Global Citizens.

    We welcome Solebury School as a new sponsor, and look forward to meeting Jennifer in person at the conference.


  • 26 Mar 2019 11:35 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Social entrepreneur, global poverty ambassador and TedX speaker, Caleb Meakins enjoys a challenge. The brainchild behind ‘my40days’, a set of 40 challenges that took him way out of his comfort zone on a daily basis, Caleb pushes himself through fear and into the opportunities that the unknown brings. ‘The ability to face fear and be unafraid of failure is central to being a successful entrepreneur’ he explains.

    Born in Ethiopia, Caleb moved to the UK when he was eight, but has always felt deeply connected to the land of his birth. ‘Being at international school in Ethiopia exposed me to many different cultures; they were enjoyable and formative years I had there.’ Thrust into a less diverse London community at a young age represented a challenging transition for Caleb and his sisters. ‘Many people hadn’t been exposed to or lived in another country’ he explains, ‘but we learned very quickly to adapt.’

    As a successful mixed-race representative, Caleb was often asked to speak to Ethiopian communities in London, many of whom were grappling with their mixed-race identities. Inspired by his father, he completed a degree in Civil Engineering which equipped him with the skills he needed to add tangible value. ‘I always felt part Ethiopian and part British’ he explains, ‘and I just couldn’t shake off the desire to come back to Ethiopia.’

    While there are both opportunities and challenges for diasporas in Ethiopia, Caleb is now encouraging people to return as entrepreneurs. He established the Ethiopian Entrepreneurs Association in 2014, with an aim to ‘inspire enterprise, fuel a culture of entrepreneurship and connect investors to investment opportunities within Ethiopia’ and now splits his time between Addis Ababa and London. His initiatives in Ethiopia continue to go from strength to strength. ‘So many people want to play a part in seeing the country grow’ he explains, ‘and I’m helping show them how they can come back and invest.’

    So how does Caleb view FIGT? ‘FIGT is full of great resources’ he explains, ‘and what really excites me is that this is a group of people that really understand cross-cultural dynamics.’ He continues, ‘Culture is the collective progression of the human mind and these days it is more about connections and networks, and less about political powers. We have the opportunity now to create content across these networks and use it as transformative information.’

    Caleb believes that as global citizens, our position within and across cultures enables us to drive positive social change and embrace the opportunities that challenge brings. ‘You learn to make your environment work’ he explains. ‘If my family had known a network or community like FIGT it would have been very valuable; it is full of great resources and I can see the value.’

    He concludes, ‘wherever we come from, it’s about how we leverage what we have and become key players in the direction that society is going. Society will always change and who will lead that change? It’s normally the people who have a vision for it that actually make that difference.’

    - Ginny Philps

  • 13 Mar 2019 12:42 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    In February we reported back on the progress of FIGT’s new membership strategy, as announced at FIGT2018. The growth in our small business/associate level as well as corporate members is a testament to the collaboration, networking, resources and visibility FIGT provides these members. And we are delighted to see connections being made, projects being hatched and activity increasing within our community.

    Today we would like to reflect on – and appeal to your insights about – our individual/student members. How can we better serve them, better offer them the wealth of what we, as a community, have to offer and contribute to their own ‘successful navigation of crossing borders and cultures.’ Not to mention, learn from their own experiences in order to enrich us further. Read the blog and please share your questions with us!

    
So, our question to you, this month is this: what do you recall as being the ‘first’ question you had – when starting your global journey? 

    What for many of us, is second nature – if not first – is not the case for many others. So, we would like to ‘check-in’ on some assumptions, gain insight from those starting and then, weave these needs into our own mission, vision and value propositions for individual/student members.

    Can’t recall what ‘that' question was? Check in with your colleagues, clients and acquaintances. Ask them: "what ‘blank’ did you have when you heard you were going ‘global'?" And, please do share them with us. 

    Remember. There is NO such thing as a ‘silly question’: because the answer may just be what makes the difference, and what is silly for one, can be monumental to another. We are excited AND curious to hear what you have to share. Together, we can all make the difference. That much we, at FIGT, know.

    GO! Share your questions with us.

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