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.

  • 14 Dec 2014 8:46 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Especially if you are moving for your spouse’s job, you may have the feeling that you cannot make decisions about your own life. But psychologist Paula Vexlir reminds us that — despite the uncertainties of expat life — each one of us has the ability to determine our own life directions and values.

    By Paula Vexlir

    An edited version of this article was originally published in Expatriates Magazine. See below for English language version.

    La incertidumbre y la vida como expatriado generalmente van juntos. Ya sea que tengas dudas sobre cuestiones culturales, sobre cómo se espera que se relacionen las personas (qué se puede decir, cómo se espera que reacciones, etc.), sobre tu nuevo lugar de residencia o sobre cómo lograr hacer las cosas allí. En algunas ocasiones tampoco está claro cuánto tiempo uno se quedará allí con lo cual se suma más incertidumbre a la cotidianeidad.

    Si bien es cierto que no todos los cónyuges acompañantes (¡Qué feo que suena esta denominación!; Si a alguien se le ocurre una mejor, ¡bienvenida sea!); es muy común observar que les resulta difícil recuperar el control de la propia vida. Es que quienes acompañan a la persona expatriada terminan sintiendo que hay un montón de decisiones que dependen del trabajo del cónyuge, de su jefe o incluso de las políticas de la empresa para la que trabaja. Es claro que esto le puede suceder a personas que viven toda su vida en el mismo lugar (¿Quién no ha escuchado comentarios en ese sentido en cualquier pareja?). Pero en el caso de los expatriados el impacto de todo lo que se ha dejado atrás por "acompañar" un proyecto termina afectando la manera en que se maneja la situación. En general escucho que uno de los problemas que se presentan es el no poder tomar decisiones acerca de la propia vida.

    Esto puede sonar extraño pero si alejamos el foco de nuestra vida en particular, si agrandamos el área de visión, podremos ver que vivimos con la incertidumbre de manera diaria, cotidiana, o, cómo se suele decir en otros lugares, -24 por 7. Cuando cruzamos la calle no pensamos que quizás haya una persona que esté manejando distraída y pase la luz roja; cuando vamos por la vereda (o acera, como prefieran) no pensamos que podría caerse una planta desde algún balcón. La mente está "entrenada" para evadir ese tipo de pensamientos (sí, ya sé, algunos los tienen todo el tiempo pero eso es otra cuestión). La única certeza real es que no podemos predecir lo que va a suceder. Aun así, cuando algo sale diferente a cómo lo planeamos, decimos que fue un imprevisto, un accidente. Pero si miramos nuestra vida y la de los demás en perspectiva veremos que hay un montón de accidentes o imprevistos; algunos fueron buenísimos (lo mejor que nos podría haber pasado) y otros..., -quizás no tan positivos.

    Volviendo entonces al tema del "cónyuge acompañante" tendemos a olvidar que ante todo hubo una decisión propia. Mas allá de que nos guste o estemos arrepentidos [1] es importante recordar que hubo motivos, razones que nos llevaron a decidir que queríamos apoyar esa oportunidad laboral de nuestra pareja (y aquí entra una lista que es distinta para cada quién, desde mejoras económicas para la familia hasta apoyar a la pareja pasando por todas las ideas que cada uno tuvo que poner en la balanza). El tema es que sentir que no podemos tomar decisiones acerca de nuestra propia vida nos lleva a acumular resentimiento, fastidio, molestia hacia nuestro cónyuge, su trabajo, su jefe y la empresa. Esos sentimientos terminan por hacernos sentir peor, los padecemos y nos producen un gran sufrimiento. Van creciendo en nuestro interior y van envenenando nuestras relaciones, nuestros vínculos (y en algunos casos nuestra cotidianeidad). 

    Entonces quizás podamos pensar en cambiar la mirada, el enfoque, e intentar uno que esté relacionado con la resiliencia y la flexibilidad (lo cual sería una ganancia real, una que nadie ni nada podrá quitarnos porque es absolutamente personal). Ojo, se me impone una aclaración importante: sé perfectamente que no es nada fácil cambiar nuestra perspectiva y en algunos casos necesitamos ayuda con eso. Mantener una actitud positiva puede ser sumamente complicado y difícil y eso es simplemente normal: nada es peor que sentirse mal y aumentar el malestar por no poder estar con una mentalidad positiva y tampoco es bueno forzarse a sentir algo que uno no siente. La propuesta es más bien recordar que la vida puede traernos un cambio grande e imprevisto en cualquier momento. Entonces la próxima vez que estés dudando acerca de empezar un proyecto, anotarte en unas clases o pensando qué es lo que quieres hacer con tu vida undefinedespecialmente si estás sintiendo que no puedes planificar nada porque no sabes cuando te irás de ese lugarundefined te propongo que recuerdes que, si bien hay incertidumbre, la dirección que le des a tu vida y tus valores siguen siendo una decisión 100% tuya.


    [1] Arrepentirse no tiene nada de malo, también puede pasar; lo único que falta es que si uno lo esta pasando mal también se achaque el haberse arrepentido de la decisión.


    Ever Felt Lost in Uncertainty?

    By Paula Vexlir

    Uncertainty and expat life usually go together. Sometimes you might feel insecure regarding culture, relationships or how to get things done in your new location. Also, it might be quite unclear how long you are going to stay and that brings even more uncertainty to the equation.

    What is certain: Uncertainty

    Even though not all expat spouses have left a job/career behind, a common trend is to find it quite difficult to regain control of your own life. It is easy to feel that there are lots of decisions that depend on your spouse's job, boss or company policy.

    Of course, this could happen to people living in the same location all their lives. But all the things left behind have a huge impact when dealing with the situation. Overall, you may have the feeling that you cannot make decisions about your own life.

    It might sound weird but if we enlarge our vision, if we widen our look, we will see that we live 24x7 with uncertainty. When we are crossing the street we don´t think that the driver could get distracted and pass the red light; while walking on the sidewalk we don't consider that a plant might fall from a balcony onto our head. Our minds are “trained” to avoid those thoughts.

    The only thing we know for certain is that we cannot predict what will happen. We usually call the events that change our plans “accidents”. But if you look at your and other people's lives, you will most likely find lots of “accidents” or unexpected situations. Some led to great results and others… maybe not so much.

    Remember there was a decision

    So going back to the accompanying partner situation, we tend to forget that there was a decision in the first place. Whether we like it or regret it, there were reasons that made us decide to follow our spouse's job opportunity.

    Feeling unable to make decisions on our life just leads to resentment towards our spouse, his/her job, boss and company. Those feelings make us feel bad, constrain us and cause us to suffer. They grow inside us and can poison our relationships.

    Know that you have choices

    A different approach would be helpful: one that involves resilience and flexibility (which, by the way, will be a real gain, no one will ever be able to take that away from us).

    Don't get me wrong: I know that it's not easy to change our perspective and sometimes we might need help to get there. Maintaining a positive attitude can be quite hard and that it´s just normal.

    But knowing that life can give us huge and unexpected changes any minute might be a good reminder.

    So next time you are feeling doubtful about starting a project or signing up for a class, think about what you want out of life. Especially if you are feeling that you cannot plan anything because you are not sure when you are heading back, remind yourself that things are uncertain but your life directions or life values are your own ultimate choices.

    Paula Vexlir is a clinical psychologist specializing in working with the Spanish-speaking expat community. Since 2002 she has been providing counseling for migrants and expats. By offering an online service she can support Spanish-speaking expats worldwide. She blogs at ExpatPsi.

  • 07 Dec 2014 3:15 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)


    For many young American adults returning to the USA to attend college or university after being expats or global nomads since they have been following their parents careers overseas, “Sophomore Slump” starts after about 6 weeks in the new university.  This is when it dawns on them that their lifestyle of travel is now over.  No more vacations in foreign countries on long weekends. No more traveling to and from exotic places at Christmas. No more team sports that causes you to carry a passport.

    Some global nomads find the start of college so hard but can usually settle down into the new system soon. This is when it is key to have some sort of support system on campus. Or near by. Teens are often good at masking what is going on for them by text or even skype. They seldom want to admit to their parents that things are not going as well as they wanted.

    Changing Universities

    Sophomore slump hits repatriated teens often and they show how upsetting this is by changing universities.

    If you look closely at the retention rate in a university from freshman to sophomore at some schools it is alarming. What is causing all these teens to try one university for just a year and move on? Most of the time it is not because of grades but because they are finding a ‘slump’ or the excitement of the university does not match up to their expectations.

    As the author of Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child, I am greatly concerned about these children as they return to the USA to attend university in their home country. I often feel we have not prepared the child enough for this transition without their family.

    Two children = Two Locations

    Since our two children decided to look at two very different locations for college, it has complicated our travel plans. Colorado is a state that receives many teen repatriating because it is such a lovely state. Toronto is also known for it’s high rate of international students. Many expat children do not have a ‘home’ so they pick a geography site that they love.  Then the match of a university to this location to the child’s long term goals is applied.  This is hard for many families.

    We are slowly approaching our second year in this location, Balikpapan. In our short time here, we have already seen a large amount of turnover in the Expat population. The things that have bothered me the most during this expatriate move without children are:

        My easy lifestyle of booking four tickets to one place is no longer possible. We now have to book three different travel plans to get to one place.

        I no longer want to go on long weekends out of the country since I am saving up my days to be with my kids.

        My kids have done the exotic places for Christmas and now wish to do something more relaxing and mainstream.

        My passport does not get used as much as it did since I am not traveling to see my kids in all those high school events that international schools are so good at setting up.

    Contributed by Julia Simens, an American writer who has lived on five continents and raised two TCKs. Her book "Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child: practical storytelling techniques that will strengthen the global family" is commonly found in many international schools and embassies where she gives talks to parents, teachers and families living a global lifestyle. Find her blog at http://www.jsimens.com

     

  • 30 Nov 2014 8:46 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)


    The bright, wonderful, hot burning sun,

    The scent of the suncream we used,

    Mixed with the spices of the ocean

     

    The sound of people, waves

     

    The hot sand, too fierce for my soft little feet,

    A ride on a strong shoulder to the shore, with love,

    To the coolness of the waters

     

    There used to be a school of fish,

    Always there waiting for me

    We played 'Catch' , really, bet you can't believe.

     

    The hotdog stand, I wish it's still there,

    Nothing special in it, but one of a kind.

     

    I was small,

     

    I looked above to see all those tanned women and men in their bikinis and shorts.

    They were different from me, my parents' faces told.

    But somehow they slipped into my 'future to be',

    Now a 'past that never was'.

     

    I thought I was American,

    My heart told me I was native Hawaiian.

     

    Only to be my parents' little girl,

    Pure Asians with their strange English tongue.

     

    A part of me buried,

    For years and years.

     

    No wonder the beat of my heart's so weak,

    I left so much behind.

     

    I dream of a day,

    A day back on the beach,

    To get back, nicely brown with a lei on my neck.

     

    A dream I dare,

    A place I long so dearly for.

     

    I know I can never get back,

    The past should be laid down.

     

    The years are gone,

    And I'm no longer six.

     

    I'm no longer the Hawaiian girl,

    Who danced the Hula with grace.

     

    Home, sweet Waikiki

     

    I call your lovely name.

     

    I know you've changed,

    As I too, have.

     

    But one day, if I get a chance to meet you,

    Can you send me some fish?

    Who knows how to play 'tag you're it'

     

    So maybe I can be six again.

     

    Cerine NJ 21

    Hawaii, Poland and South Korea

    Moithetique - Wagamama - Daydreamer

    This is one in a series of excerpts from the recently published The Worlds Within TCK Anthology, now available for purchase on Amazon.com.  A portion of the book’s profits will be donated to the FIGT David C Pollock Scholarship Fund. 


    Cerine NJ 21

    Hawaii, Poland and South Korea

    Moithetique - Wagamama - Daydreamer

    his is one in a series of excerpts from the soon-to-be published The Worlds Within TCK Anthology.  A portion of the book’s profits will be donated to the FIGT David C Pollock Scholarship Fund.


    Cerine NJ 21

    Hawaii, Poland and South Korea

    Moithetique - Wagamama - Daydreamer

    his is one in a series of excerpts from the soon-to-be published The Worlds Within TCK Anthology.  A portion of the book’s profits will be donated to the FIGT David C Pollock Scholarship Fund.
  • 23 Nov 2014 5:42 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    When working with colleagues, what does an expat need to keep in mind?

    Keith (Singapore)Almost half of the workforce in Singapore is comprised of foreigners and permanent residents.  Local Singaporeans are also a diverse group comprising of Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians.  Because of this, the expat needs to understand the motivation, communication styles, leadership preferences and cultural differences of each group.

    Jeff (Vietnam): In Vietnam, expats need to keep in mind the contradiction between Eastern and Western values and appreciate the deep historical, ancestral, Confucian and Buddhist roots of the Vietnamese –which translates into strong family orientation, strict hierarchies, top-down decision making, respect for authority as well as seniority and age, and the need for balance and harmony.   In business, transactions are usually affected by politics, procedures, infrastructure, and personal relationship.  While Vietnam is a fast-changing country that is learning the ways of international business, modern Vietnamese are often conflicted between family and career, communism and capitalism.  Workers are accustomed to following instructions undefined so if you want feedback, suggestions, self-reliance, collaboration, or innovation, say it, write it and show you mean it.

    Rose (Philippines):   In the Philippines, personal relations are very important. Business is done on the basis of trust and being comfortable with the person they are doing business with.  Although Filipinos speak English and communicating is easy, there are many things communicated through facial expression, tone of voice and behavior.  Politeness is key and colleagues will be turned off by aggressive orders or reactions so be mindful of your voice volume.  When looking for assistance it must be requested and not ordered.  When making requests, keep in mind that a Filipino associate will always be polite and say “yes”; however, many times the answer may really mean “no”.  It’s always a good idea to clarify understanding.

    Let’s discuss daily living.  

    Kristen (Singapore): Over one million expats reside in Singapore. This makes for great living as you will quickly have friends that have come from all over the world. Much like other metropolitan cities, housing is smaller and closer together. There is a fantastic public transport system (called MRT) and since the duty on cars is over 100%, you will make great use of it.  There are great entertainment options year round undefined the Formula 1 night race is a city wide party, many good concerts with head line performers, art and film festivals, excellent museums, and the list of good restaurants keeps growing. While shopping could be considering a national pastime here in Singapore, prices are quite a bit more than those in the US.

    Claudia (Singapore): For Singaporeans and expats alike, living in Singapore is not only clean, safe and organized but also very comfortable and practical. Distances to work are usually no more than one hour by public transport to and from most locations. If necessary, services such as electricians and other contractors are available within a day. However, work life balance is not as good as it is in Europe and the US. Work comes first here and everyone works longer hours, even on holidays.  There is lots of traffic.

    Jeff (Vietnam): Daily living in Vietnam’s major cities (Saigon and Hanoi) can be a challenge undefined dealing with traffic jams, pollution, and property crimes.  But both cities have good options for modern and affordable apartments, comfortable international expat communities, good restaurants and an assortment of sports/entertainment, plus reliable and inexpensive domestic help.  Corporate executives and other expats most likely will want to hire a cook as well as car-and-driver.  Keep in mind that Vietnam is one of the world’s largest two-wheel cultures, so an expat might want to join the masses and have a motorbike if he wants to get around efficiently; if you’re going to ride in a vehicle with four wheels, you’ll want a driver undefined and a lot of patience.

    Rose (Philippines): Manila is the Philippines most modern city and the majority of expats live there. Expect the normal issues that come along with city life – namely, pollution (the air quality may affect those who are sensitive) and traffic (always allot additional travel time).  Most expats will employ a local driver who is familiar with the roads. Keep in mind that Filipino drivers are terrible on the roads; they will tailgate and occupy every space they see. For example, a 3-lane road can easily become 4 or 5 lanes.  Many areas in Manila are very modern with shopping malls, condominiums and subdivisions with secured areas.  Some expats hire household help and you have a choice of live-in or live-out.  This usually depends on how big the house is and whether there are young children.  The shops offer local and imported goods and there is a store similar to COSTCO called Sand R.  We recommend staying away from the wholesale markets as they can be a bit dangerous if you are not vigilant and aware.

    What’s the latest on the housing supply and international schools?

    Kristen (Singapore): Housing, especially apartment living, is plentiful but expensive. Be prepared to move into a smaller home with limited outdoor space. Condo living can be wonderful as you have an instant community and amenities such as pool, BBQ area, and fitness center. There are international schools for just about every curriculum including American, British, Australian, German, Swiss, Japanese, Indian, etc. Several schools have long wait lists. If you are anticipating a move, and hoping to keep your children on an American curriculum, expect a six month wait list.

    Keith (Singapore) In Singapore, various housing options are available from condominiums, landed properties (houses) and public housing (called HDB which stands for Housing Development Board).  If you want to live downtown or close to schools, be prepared to pay more.  If you are keen to embrace the local cultures and want to live like most locals, then you can rent a HDB.  The HDBs are located near MRT stations or public transport and have amenities like food centers, shops, cinemas and libraries close by.  A 3 bedroom 1,200 sq. ft. HDB apartment rents for S$3,000 (US$2,500) monthly and prices can go up to S$30,000 (US$25,000) or more for an 8,000 sq. ft. bungalow.  Note that Singapore is often ranked one of the most expensive cities in the world.  A 400sq ft. 1-bedroom apartment downtown can cost easily S$4,000 (US$3,300) a month, while a 1,200 sq. ft. 2-bedroom apartment downtown can be S$8,000 (US$6,600).

    Jeff (Vietnam): After a decade of modernization and construction of high-end residential properties that ended in 2009, Vietnam today is in the midst of a prolonged real estate slump and is a buyer’s market for apartment rentals.  The inventory of luxury apartments in particular is strong and relatively inexpensive.  There are several very good international schools in the big cities, especially Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), and a school of choice for expats in Hanoi tends to be the school sponsored by the United Nations, it’s one of only two in the world.  In Vietnam’s public school system and at the post-secondary level, the options are limited, although acceptable public schools that emphasize English are available for families seeking a rich cultural experience.

    Rose (Philippines): In the Philippines, the housing supply is abundant especially with new condominiums. Expats also have several international schools to choose from and most are located in the same area.  Examples include the IS (International School) and BSM (British School Manila). However, as soon as you are outside Manila, international school availability becomes scarce. Keep in mind that the system of education in the Philippines is patterned after American Education, so the local private schools are use English as a medium of instruction. The many private Catholic Schools all over the country will accept foreign students and some expats have discovered that this provides an affordable high quality education.

    Are there other things expats need to be aware of such as restrictions, security, culture, currency?

    Kristen (Singapore): Singapore is incredibly safe and a wonderful place to move, especially for young families. Singapore recognizes four main cultures, Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Western cultures and all are celebrated equally. English is the national language with most Singaporeans speaking at least one more language.  We affectionately refer to Singapore as “Asia-lite” and for most Westerners, it is an easy transition to move here. The hardest thing to get used to is the heat and humidity. Thankfully air conditioning is everywhere.

    Jeff (Vietnam): Expats need to be aware that Vietnam is just one generation removed from starvation poverty and hundreds of years of war that ultimately led the country to accept a one-party government that provides political stability and values security more than individual liberty.  For expats, some practical implications they can expect to confront are: cumbersome bureaucracy, excessive regulations/restrictions, and the expectation of under-the-table payment for public services.  On the other hand, as individuals Vietnamese are very pragmatic; so if you want to get something done, deal with the people and trust that they know how to deal with the government.

    Rose (Philippines)Filipinos have a silent/unspoken social system similar to a caste system depending on economic means, educational attainment and upbringing.  Generally, Filipinos are more passive than assertive and have a tendency to be subservient and very shy.  But those who are from higher economic status with high educational attainment will show more assertiveness and confidence in their approach to foreigners.  There are many areas in the city that are generally well secured such as near the financial district.  However, as with any city it pays to be street smart and vigilant.  Consider travelling with locals and, as a general rule, ask about the place prior to going there – especially when going out of the city.  Filipinos are Asians but can be very westernized even if he/she has not lived abroad; the influence of media and education has been very strong. It is very easy to get along with Filipinos because they are adaptable and open to other cultures.

    Contributed by Charisse Kosova, Director, Intercultural Training and Development at IOR Global Services.

  • 09 Nov 2014 8:18 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)


    ‘Where are you from?’ is my least favourite question.

    Most people rattle off their particulars with no specific thought, reciting a common answer to a supposedly common question. But as a third culture child it triggers thoughts of identity, self and lineage. The short answer is simply a synopsis, a vague indication of the normalcy of moving around every three years or so. How does one explain that they are, say, half Canadian, half Dutch, but lived in Russia, Egypt, Indonesia, Singapore and Switzerland without receiving puzzled looks and gaping mouths? Moreover, when asked to explain in more detail I have to elaborate I have never lived in either of my passport countries, or even speak their languages* so can I even rightfully claim their heritage as my own?

    This long answer however, prompts my second least favourite question;

    ‘What was your favourite place to live in?’.

    How can I answer this question when I don’t know myself exactly how the exposure to so many amazingly different cultures, religions, languages and peoples has affected me in my development, in me becoming an individual of this world?

    When repeatedly moving to a new country, city and school is the only life I’ve ever known the question is very much redundant to me, resorting with a forced smile and a polite yet evasive answer.

    The nature of these questions is not malicious, and only a natural progression for non-third culture individuals to ask, but the reason that they aggravate me is because they remind me I have no real home.

    Undeniably, I have a house, in which my family live, and yet it is not my home, merely the building in which I have lived for the most recent three years. A home is somewhat fictional to me, perhaps a bricked cottage built by grandparents before me, or a house in which in which I had lived all my life, friendly with all of the neighbours and local community- a fairytale of sorts. When I left to University this became painfully clear when surrounded by individuals whose move to Edinburgh was their first time living out of their town or city, and again I was exposed to the questioning and the imploring. Each time these questions are said out loud, internally I ask myself the same ones- “where am I truly from?” and “which country can I truly claim a home in?”- and repeatedly I remind myself that I am quite literally a citizen of the world.

    Although I feel I have no real physical home, there is an emotion, a contentedness and sense of relief I relate to as ‘home’. It is the happiness experienced when in the comfort and presence of my family; the playful comments, teasing, jokes and laughter when we are together is a sensation we can create anywhere and everywhere we go. And it is this security and ease that I miss when homesick some 10929 kilometres away from, not a building, but my feeling of ‘home’.

    I know people will continue to ask where I am from, my attempt to answer and its impact on me undoubtedly symbolizes a part of who I am as a person, but I’m not sure people realize what a burdensome question it can be, hopefully that is, until now. 

    *(Quebecois or Dutch)


    Johanna Smit

    20

    Russia, Egypt, Indonesia, Singapore, Switzerland and Scotland

    Unite – Share - Smile


    This is one in a series of excerpts from the soon-to-be published The Worlds Within TCK Anthology. A portion of the book’s profits will be donated to the FIGT David C Pollock Scholarship Fund.  

     

    This is one in a series of excerpts from the soon-to-be published The Worlds Within TCK Anthology.  A portion of the book’s profits will be donated to the FIGT David C Pollock Scholarship Fund. 
    This is one in a series of excerpts from the soon-to-be published The Worlds Within TCK Anthology.  A portion of the book’s profits will be donated to the FIGT David C Pollock Scholarship Fund. 
  • 02 Nov 2014 4:30 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    While many would argue that English is becoming “the” universal business language, we polyglots know that speaking a foreign language is really a secret weapon. Whether working with business associates abroad or taking care of everyday errands while on international assignment, the ability to communicate  is truly an advantage in work and at play.  We asked the IOR team what they thought were the major advantages to knowing another language.  Read on for what we consider to be the Top 10 reasons:







    1.    You become comfortable with the business side of the language – idioms, email writing style and company jargon (Maura, Marketing)

    2.    There is a greater ability to understand and solve workplace problems with different cultures (Mark, Global Talent Management)

    3.    You understand the lyrics to all those foreign songs you’ve been singing in the shower. (Nick, Intern)

    4.    Locals respond to you better/quicker when you try the local language (Suzy, Customer Service)

    5.    You are better able to take care of daily needs like buying food, reading street signs and navigating the city (Maura, Marketing)

    6.    You develop a more influential leadership style through usage of local terms and phrases (Mark, Global Talent Management)

    7.    You get better seats in planes and access to off-menu dishes at restaurants. (Kendra, President)

    8.    You reduce your risk of saying something totally embarrassing by nearly 50%. (Denise, Destination Services)

    9.    You can fund your next plane ticket with the money you save by avoiding clever, “shortcut”-taking taxi drivers (Agata, Language)

    10. You gain advantages in all aspects of your daily life, which makes for a more satisfying and successful assignment. (Rob, CEO)


    What advantages have you enjoyed by knowing another language?


    Contributed by Charisse Kosova, Director, Intercultural Training and Development at IOR Global Services.


  • 26 Oct 2014 8:11 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)


    Maryam Afnan Ahmad interviews Jo Parfitt about this soon-to-be-published work.


    • What are TCKs and why are you so passionate about them?

    JP: TCKs are young people who have spent some or all of their growing up years overseas in a country that is not the passport country of either parent. They live, not in their parents’ culture, nor fully settled into their new location. Instead they live ‘between worlds’ in a third culture. I have lived abroad myself for 27 years, since the day after I got married and we have two TCKs of our own now in their twenties. I care passionately about giving people a voice, a place to express how they feel. I wanted a) to let them know people care about their stories ad b) to inform others about this unique group.

     

    • Why did you choose to compile an anthology of TCK work?

    JP: It was while I was at FIGT2012 and attended a workshop by Beth McBride, our cover artist, and met Cerine NJ, a Pollock Scholar, attending from Korea that the idea came to me. Cerine handed me a booklet of stories she had written and frankly, I was blown away by the meaning in her words. Eva also read the material and felt as I did. Beth and Cerine are both in their 20s, both are TCKs and both have been profoundly changed by their experience. It was then that I realised, as a publisher, I had the power to produce an anthology and was delighted when Eva and Cerine herself agreed to be involved.

     

    • Is The Worlds Within an anthology of interest only for the TCK?

    JP: It will fascinate anyone who has lived abroad, at any age and anyone who has ever or still works with them in any capacity. It will let them see into their world.

     

    • What value do you see The Worlds Within to add to the TCK experience?

    JP: It brings taboo subjects like identity, home, belonging, loss and grief to the surface as well as the immense benefits to be gained from their experiences. It helps TCKS to feel more rooted in their world and not only proud of who they are but brave enough not to keep their truth secret any more.

     

    • How did you both pick the age range for the TCKs who could submit work for the project?

    JP: That was tricky. 27 seems an odd age to cut off entries, but after much discussion we decided it was at this point that young people truly no longer feel like children.

     

    • Any special moments from the process of compiling this book that you would like to share?

    JP: When we read the entries through for the first time with awe and emotion. And then when we read them again. And then when we read them again. Each time it feels like someone is bashing me on the head and saying, “See?”

     

    • Is there anything else that you would like us to know about The Worlds Within?

    JP: This has been a wholly voluntary project. It has been two and a half years in the making and has been very hard work. All those who have been involved have shown amazing passion and commitment to this important project.

     

     

  • 19 Oct 2014 2:57 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    I understand what you feel,

    and as my heart starts

    to stop forever, yours will begin again.

     

    My grief and sorrow override the joy

    that brings me to tears

    each time I hear your name,

    for the darkness is creeping in,

    and the light starts to fade,

    and all I hold onto is you.

     

    Your eyes, your feet, your delicate, fragile fingers.

    Your laugh which now I can only imagine…

    It must sound like tinkling bells, or the song

    of a bird. Your button nose, small and perfect,

    like the rest of you.

     

    Time is running out,

    and the only regret I have is the time I could have had with you.

    And I cringe now when people visit,

    because I am no longer viewed as healthy, sane,

    but as frail and withered, and all I can ask for is

    Time.

     

    Time to talk,

    Time to explain,

    Time to apologize for my wrong doing.

    I need time before my hourglass runs empty,

    before the chance of seeing you blinks out.

    My blood is slowing in the traffic of disease,

    and I just need you.

     

    If only I had been a little wiser,

    more patient,

    I would have stayed with you.

    I would have spent my life and all my

    Time

    by your side.

     

    But now, as the last grains slowly plummet to the bottom,

    I have one piece of advice for you.

    Stop. Wasting. Time.

     

    Anna Busuttil, 13, joke-love-eat


    This is one in a series of excerpts from the soon-to-be published The Worlds Within TCK Anthology.  A portion of the book’s profits will be donated to the FIGT David C Pollock Scholarship Fund. 

    This is one in a series of excerpts from the soon-to-be published The Worlds Within TCK Anthology.  A portion of the book’s profits will be donated to the FIGT David C Pollock Scholarship Fund.
    This is one in a series of excerpts from the soon-to-be published The Worlds Within TCK Anthology.  A portion of the book’s profits will be donated to the FIGT David C Pollock Scholarship Fund.
    This is one in a series of excerpts from the soon-to-be published The Worlds Within TCK Anthology.  A portion of the book’s profits will be donated to the FIGT David C Pollock Scholarship Fund.
  • 12 Oct 2014 5:25 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)


    Chimps have a mental, detailed map of their ‘neck of the woods’. It’s a matter of survival: they have to be able to remember where they found those berries last year and how long it takes to get to safety from any other place.

    Although we no longer need it for our daily survival needs, the human brain is wired to make, and retain, a map of our surroundings. And that is why, when we move to a new place, we don’t feel settled until we have developed that map. An article in the National Geographic of June 2014 states, “Each of us constructs a sort of geographical-highlight map of the places we’ve lived.” (p4)

    A friend of mine came back from Abu Dhabi where she and her family will move to live this summer. When they went house hunting, her husband had his priorities clear. Looking at the map he said,

    ‘Here is the Starbucks. Let’s take a 10-minute walking radius around this point and see if there is anything available we like.’

    She wondered if they shouldn’t look near his work or her work or the school for the kids. ‘We’ll work that out later. As long as we can walk to the Starbucks….’

    Basically, the Starbucks is his safety retreat, his secure nest in the big Ironwood tree in times of stress and danger on the forest canopy floor.

    It’s a smart thing to do when we set out to find a house in a new place – decide what you want to be near and start from there. If you know what you want you can work to making it happen: the quicker your map is designed, the quicker you will feel ‘at home’ in a new place.

    I bet that this desire to feel settled explains why we humans are creatures of habit. There can be 10 grocery stores near us but we often keep going to the first or second one discovered, over and over again, as if the wheels of our chariot dig a path deeper into known territory. You notice this when you move to a new house in the same city. Suddenly you can’t figure out how to get anywhere because your point of departure has changed. And you discover a new restaurant around the corner from the office because you arrive at the front door from a different angle. The restaurant was always there but your chariot’s ruts didn’t make it those extra 50 meters.

    Our first weeks in a new place are busy and emotionally intense, but I think the experience is far more physical than we realise. We are conscious of the mental effort we make as we settle, but at the same time, our bodies are subconsciously doing just as much work, adjusting to differences between here and back there, and noting it all down in what will become our physical mental map of this ‘home’.

    If I see a picture of Hanoi, Vietnam, I’m transported there, not just in a visual memory, but physically, even 14 years after leaving the country. I can hear the whining rumble of thousands of motorcycles on the main road around the corner from my house, smell the fish sauce in the air around lunch time and feel the humid air that makes my t-shirt cling to my skin.

    As we settle our senses make deep subconscious impressions of our environment that stay with us forever. Perhaps this is a survival mechanism we inherited from our ancestral tribes of nomadic apes: we global nomads create a single meta-map of past and present homes. The maps help us learn from similarities and differences, remember our past in a ‘3D’ way and therefore thrive in our international world.

    Contributed by Diane Lemieux, a Canadian/Dutch writer who has lived in 11 countries and speaks 4 languages. Her latest book is The Mobile LIfe: a new approach to moving anywhere. Find her blog at http://diane-lemieux.com/mobilelife/

  • 04 Oct 2014 6:35 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)


    7 weeks and 6 days. That’s all I’ve got until we go “home”.

    Where’s “home”? England.

    Is it Home? No.

    So why does everyone call it that? I haven’t lived there in 5 YEARS! So why do we have “home” assignment and why does everyone talk about how we’re coming home?

    I’m sort of having mixed feelings about all this. Sometimes I’m excited, the idea of a foreign country, a new culture, the chance to start again can be so attractive.

    But Bangladesh is all I’ve ever known! I don’t know how to live in England! It’s not yet 20 degrees and I’m already starting to get chilblains!

    I’ll be leaving behind everything: my whole life; my classmates; my friends; my adopted families.

    I’ll be leaving behind Bubbles and Jen. They’re my best friends. I’ve been best friends with Bubbles since I was 5 years old! We don’t even remember how, where or when we met. It doesn’t really matter. She’s my best friend.

    I’ll be leaving my new friends as well.

    Besides Bubbles and Jen there are another two girls and three boys. I’ve learn’t how to socialize with those guys. How to mix languages and scold the boys for being rude. Throwing bottles at each other’s heads and blaming it on each other, laughing at the boys as they stuff all of the sweets in their mouths when we ask them to hold a bag of them. Ridiculing aunties and Uncles and other kids. We’re pure silliness. But we’re definitely not English.

    I don’t know how to socialize with English people. Here people who hardly know me talk about their feelings easily to me. They say I’m easy to trust and give good advice. But I don’t know how to get English kids to trust me.

    So even though I’m excited about going to England, I will miss Bangladesh.

    I will miss my friends: Adh, Setu, Jen and Bubbles. I will miss all the characters - like You Know Who, one-against-four-girls boy and Bablu.

    This is my Home and although I will manage, someday, to make England my home with a small ‘h’, Bangladesh will always be my Home with a capital ‘H’.

    Amory Powell

    11-13

    England, Bangladesh

    justathirdculturekid.wordpress.com

    Curious - Understanding - Persevering

    This is one in a series of excerpts from the soon-to-be published The Worlds Within TCK Anthology.  A portion of the book’s profits will be donated to the FIGT David C Pollock Scholarship Fund.

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