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.

  • 29 Nov 2019 10:41 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Anastasia Lijadi joins the FIGT Board in the newly created role of Research and Education Director. She paints her vision for FIGT as a knowledge hub where people can find best practices and latest info to promote the wellbeing of TCKs and globally mobile families.

    Can you please describe your FIGT role?

    My vision is to establish FIGT as a hub where researchers and counselors can share the latest findings and best practices to sustain the wellbeing and quality of life of people crossing cultures around the world — as declared in FIGT’s mission.

    Need opinions on the best time to move your children? What should I consider when choosing the right school for my TCK? What options do “trailing spouses” have to thrive in the new home? How to cope with the emotional roller-coaster of repatriation? Who can TCKs approach for advice in dealing with adulthood? 

    The FIGT would be the go-to place to find answers.

    FIGT has rigorous research-based information, recommended books based on personal experiences or an ethnographic lens on high-mobility populations. FIGT has connected and collaborated with schools and educators around the world and is linked to a global network of affiliates, professional coaches, and counselors.

    Hence, in my role, I focus on establishing this hub to connect with researchers, educators, and experts in the field, and to engage with and acknowledge their work in our annual conference.

    What inspired you to stand for this particular office?

    I want to quote Martin Seligman, the positive-psychology guru: 

    Just as the good life is something beyond the pleasant life, the meaningful life is beyond the good life.

    For me, one way to make a meaningful life is serving as Research and Education Director in FIGT.

    When I was a trailing spouse with two small TCKs, I went back to university and pursued my doctorate. I found that one way to understand the phenomenon that was happening around me (high-mobility lifestyle, identity confusion, and shifts in human values due to social change such as migration and crossing cultures) was through research, where plausible and valid knowledge and guidelines were offered.

    Furthermore, I believe that schooling is still the best way to transfer knowledge. 

    In this Research and Education Director capacity, I hope to facilitate knowledge transfer from research — through education — to empower all stakeholders involved in the lives of people crossing borders.

    Anything you particularly hope to accomplish this year? What do you look forward to?

    I believe in aiming big but starting by taking small steps and collaborating with other FIGT volunteers. For example, to engage researchers, FIGT needs to create a space for them to exchange views and to share their work. I value the inputs and collaborations from my colleagues of the FIGT Research Network Affiliate and will maintain good communications with co-chairs Sarah Gonzales and Danau Tanu

    I also appreciate the support from the Program Director, in supporting research-based presentations at the annual conference

    To reach out to educators, I will collaborate with the Membership and Affiliate Directors.

    Hopefully, in the upcoming FIGT2020 conference in Bangkok, we will see a greater presence of researchers and educators based in Thailand and Southeast Asia, who will hopefully become FIGT members.

    Your favorite thing about FIGT / being a part of FIGT?

    The best thing about FIGT for me is that I don't have to explain myself too much. FIGT has a language that every member understands.

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

    I love to paint, even though my best fans are limited to my mother and my family. During my adolescent years (30+ years back, living in Jakarta, Indonesia), most of my paintings — pointillism only with black dots — were of snow, huge lakes, and mountains, created using just a Rotring pen. But when university, work, and seeing the world took over my life, my passion for painting became neglected.

    After globe-trotting for many years, my career led me to Bali, Indonesia, where I met my husband and got engaged. When I called my mother to share the good news, her first question was not what I expected. 

    Not who he is, or what he does, or what I like about him. She asked me simply where his hometown was and I answered “Austria.”

    There was silence for a while, then my mother softly reminded me that I have always dreamt of living there. 

    She faxed one of my paintings, a panorama of lakes surrounded by snowy mountain — I was unconsciously drawing Austria! Well, I fell in love with a man that fulfilled my dream! Am I truly blessed or was it simply coincidence?

    We have (partially) repatriated to Austria since 2017; you may say I have been living in a dream ever since!

    Please share some words of wisdom for globally mobile people.

    Bloom wherever you are (re)planted! 

    You can learn more about Anastasia in the board member bios section. FIGT members can see Anastasia's presentation "The international school is not so international after all: The experiences of Third Culture Kids." She also led an Early Bird Forum on "Sustaining Quality of Life in Repatriation" at FIGT2019.

    Also: learn more about the FIGT Research Network Affiliate.

  • 26 Nov 2019 7:40 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    For globally mobile families, traditions and rituals provide an important thread of continuity and identity. Even more so if you are a TCK and an international adoptee, shares Anna, who was adopted from India by a Swedish couple and grew up in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. 

    By Anna Svedberg

    Growing up as a Third Culture Kid can be complicated enough, navigating different cultures and customs while still maintaining the common thread of identity. Add another layer, such as being an international adoptee, and you have to be both consistent and adamant in how you raise your children for them to gain a healthy sense of identity while navigating the tricky waters of a child growing up as a citizen of the world.

    This is my family's own story of how we maintained some sense of constant normalcy through cooking and celebrating traditional holidays together with other Scandinavian families while abroad. Staying in touch with family friends of various cultures strengthened my sense of identity and connection with both my birth culture as well as my passport culture while appreciating and respecting local customs and traditions. 

    Cooking, food, and sparking memories

    Growing up overseas, my first few memories are always of my mum cooking or baking in the kitchen with my sister and I helping and tasting the goodies. Food and traditions in general are quite important in my family. My mum explained much later to me that having adopted two beautiful girls from India, my parents were quite adamant to instill Swedish culture and traditions in us, especially as my sister and I grew up overseas. 

    This meant that whether we were stationed in a very traditional trade city in the desert or in the hustle and bustle of a mega Southeast Asian city, my sister and I would always have access to Swedish cinnamon rolls for any given holiday and the traditional Swedish smorgasbord for Christmas and Easter, including the world-famous savoury Swedish meatballs and cured salmon. 

    Since my mum loved cooking, she of course learnt how to cook local dishes wherever we were stationed, which meant that my sister and I acquired an international palate from a very young age. If we missed our hometown from years ago, my mum would cook a meal to take my sister and me back taste-wise and it was almost like being there.

    I have a particular memory of my family living in the Middle East and participating in local Eid celebrations. In those early days, mothers and children were invited to local family homes to partake in Eid festivities, which always included lots of delicious food as well as giving and receiving traditional Eid greetings. As a child, my friends and I felt honored that we were so graciously invited to strangers’ homes. The generosity I experienced while growing up overseas is something that I will always be grateful for. 

    Also, while living in a Southeast Asian megacity, my family would celebrate the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival with other families at the beach, lighting lanterns and sending them out to sea ceremoniously at night. My parents explained that as guests in a local culture, it's important to observe and respect local culture and traditions. 

    Traditions, festivals, celebrations, and local networks

    My mum instilled in us Swedish traditions by decking our homes with festival-appropriate decorations, often hand-embroidered or hand-painted. 

    With traditional cooking, festival-appropriate decorations and celebrations no matter where we were stationed in the world, my sister and I received a solid foundation of continuity in our upbringing. This was further strengthened as we enjoyed close ties with a network of Scandinavian families wherever we lived, with whom we could celebrate our traditions. 

    Local festivals and traditions were usually widely recognized through school activities as well as in family social gatherings, so we learned from a young age to respect and enjoy the local culture and customs wherever we were stationed.

    Regarding our Indian heritage, growing overseas was a blessing as it allowed my family frequent trips to see family friends in India and close school friends with Southeast Asian backgrounds. Together with my mum’s love for cooking Indian food, this enabled me to seamlessly blend my Indian heritage and Swedish identity together. 

    By teaching your child about their birth country as well as their passport country, while at the same time encouraging them to immerse themselves in local customs, your child will not only gain a healthy sense of self but also a respect for all cultures and walks of life — a mark of a true citizen of the world.

    Tips for globally mobile families with adoptive TCK children 

    Here are some tips for families with children growing up in a globally mobile family as TCKs and as international adoptees.

    Strengthening your child's sense of identity

    • Talk early on about adoption and what it means.
    • Educate your child on their country of birth and culture so your child can from a young age form an understanding of their heritage.
    • Also teach early on about your child’s passport country, culture, and language, so your child can easily repatriate if they would like to as an adult.
    • Show a genuine interest in the local culture to educate your child that respect for all cultures is important to develop empathy for fellow human beings. My parents emphasized that, living as an expat family overseas, we were always a guest in someone’s country.
    • Foster healthy family traditions that your child can hold onto as a common thread through your international moves.

    Network: Your family’s tribe while living the globally mobile lifestyle

    • Surround your family with close friends — either locally or via distance — who can act as your family’s inner network, a safe constant in your child’s sometimes turbulent globally mobile life.

    Anna Svedberg is a Swedish repatriated adult Third Culture Kid. She is a social media volunteer for FIGT and a staffing consultant for multinational clients. She loves writing children’s stories on themes such as TCKs and international adoption. Anna is adopted from India by Swedish parents and was lucky enough to grow up in the Middle East and Southeast Asia thanks to her parents' careers in the Swedish Foreign Service as well as in the private sector. She and her family frequently travel back to childhood stomping grounds to visit family friends, as well as for some sun and warmth during the winter months! 

    Anna would love to collaborate with you on projects close to her heart: international adoption, repatriation, and globally mobile families. FIGT members can find her in the Member Directory for Members Only.

  • 23 Nov 2019 4:54 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Jodi Harris joined the FIGT board for the 2019-2020 term. She talks with us about her role and aspirations for FIGT, and shares a beautiful story about her family’s “space box”.

    Can you please briefly describe your FIGT role?

    As Vice President, I'm a member of the Executive Committee. I support the President and serve as her backup when needed. I am FIGTs go-to person for organizational bylaws. I help keep an eye on our finances and support the Board in adopting and maintaining best practices. 

    I oversee the Research & Education Director and Affiliate Director Board roles and support those directors in meeting their goals. I also work closely with the Membership and Sponsorship Directors to help them in broadening and diversifying our global community and outreach.

    What inspired you to stand for this particular office?

    The short answer is that I believe passionately in the role that FIGT plays in supporting and advocating for the globally mobile community and I wanted to play a more active role in that mission.

    When it comes to the role of Vice President, I looked at what I thought I could bring to the table. I love connecting people and creating community. I enjoy being a cheerleader for the globally mobile and I have a lot of energy and passion for getting the word out about what FIGT offers. The VP role felt like the perfect fit.

    Anything you particularly hope to accomplish this year? What do you look forward to?

    I am super excited about the FIGT Conference 2020! This will be our second year in Bangkok and I'm really looking forward to seeing the ways in which we're able to build on the energy of last year's first conference in Asia. 

    In my role as VP, I have a mantra that I'm keeping in the forefront of my mind: no globally mobile person should NOT know about FIGT. 

    My goal is to outreach, talk, share and connect as much as I can so that we bring even more people under our umbrella.

    Your favorite thing about being a part of FIGT?

    Community. I love the FIGT community! There is nothing quite like that feeling of being in a room with people who instantly get your experience. 

    And, because technology connects us so well with people all over the world, the FIGT community is stronger than ever!

    Even if you can't make it to the conference every year, you can still join an affiliate, connect personally and professionally with people, and contribute to the conversation online. 

    FIGT is a place with open arms and you feel that no matter how you get involved.

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

    My husband and I first met in the summer of 1998. I was just starting my senior year of university after a year abroad in Spain. He had graduated a couple years earlier and had been traveling in Europe and doing some work in Austin (where we're from). By the time I graduated in May 1999, we were headed together to Japan to teach English. It was a time of great transition and the beginning of our life around the world, together.

    I remember one night we were having this conversation about feeling homeless — excited for our future and all of the adventures we were having, but also feeling a sense of not having a space to call our own, a place that really felt like home.

    At one point in the conversation, he said something like, "I just don't feel like I have a space. I have nowhere to collect my things or unpack what I've acquired." 

    A few days later I was out shopping and I saw this beautiful little box. In my head I started imagining what it would be like to visualize all the places we'd been — the memories, the sights, the sounds, the smells — in one place. 

    I bought the box and presented it to him as his "space box" — a way to ritualize the coming and going, to collect what you're leaving and carry it forward to the next home. Soon after, he bought one for me.

    All these years later (twenty years!) we still have the same space boxes. It's a ritual that we honor with each move — the boxes stay open the entire time we live somewhere, collecting the memories. 

    When it's time to move, in a moment of silence and reflection, we mentally collect our memories and then close the box. When we arrive in our new home, we do the ritual in reverse — releasing the memories of the old home into the new one.

    Please share some words of wisdom for FIGT members and globally mobile people in general!

    The world is complex. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to look around and see so much that needs attention, nurturing and perspective. As globally mobile people, we're in a unique position to speak from a broad and diverse perspective. 

    And yet, it's too much for any one person to take on individually. We are all better when we seek to connect and create community across borders and when we work together to make the world a better place for everyone

    I think our international perspective is a gift we share with the world; FIGT provides a way for you to do that with others, in the spirit of understanding and solidarity.

    So step up and step in — together!

    You can learn more about Jodi in the Board Member bios section. FIGT members can also see her presentation on "Cultivating Stillness in a Fast Moving World" (FIGT2019). Stay tuned for more from our new 2019-2020 board members!
  • 19 Nov 2019 10:52 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Every year, the David C. Pollock Scholarship brings new voices to the FIGT conference. Please welcome the six FIGT2020 Scholars who will be carrying on David Pollock’s legacy to support and develop global-minded, intercultural souls. 

    FIGT is excited to announce the FIGT2020 David C. Pollock Scholars.! First-time conference attendees Karla A. Fraser, Jacob Daniel Huff, Asako Noda, Tracy Oyekanmi, Jessi Vance, and Maddie White will be joining us at FIGT2020 to bring their unique expertise and points of view to the discussion.

    Each year, the David C Pollock Scholarship provides highly motivated individuals working or studying in the intercultural and transnational mobility fields the opportunity to attend the FIGT conference.

    The Scholars “represent a missing voice at FIGT,” explains Scholarship Director Matilda Criel-Ewoldt. “The scholarship is an outright recognition that all voices must be heard.”

    Inspired by David Pollock’s tireless support, vision, and dedication to families in global transition, the scholarship epitomizes FIGT’s aim to attract, involve, and educate emerging, global-minded, intercultural souls—all within a safe space for all.

    Learn more about the David C. Pollock Scholarship.

    The 2020 Pollock Scholars

    True to its mission and in line with the FIGT2020 theme “Embracing and Bridging Differences,” the 2020 Scholars come from different realms of the globally mobile community.

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

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

    SEE: More from Karla about her commitment to promote awareness of the global diaspora of black and brown people.

    Jacob Daniel Huff is an international educator. Growing up, he moved across three different US states and then went from a farm in Arkansas to Vietnam. As an adult, Jacob has lived in four different countries with his Korean-born American wife and their daughter.

    Now Elementary Principal at Oasis International School, Kuala Lumpur, he is working on his doctorate in curriculum and instruction. Jacob is fascinated how students develop a sense of identity in an international context and is passionate about helping them develop the skills to thrive in their internationally mobile and multicultural lives.

    SEE: More from Jacob about his project on multigenerational TCKs.

    Asako Noda is involved in starting up a new international school in Tokyo and implementing children’s creative writing programs in educational institutions. Asako was born in Singapore and grew up in the UK. She did not fully identify as a “returnee” when she moved to Japan and only discovered many years later that she may have been a TCK.

    Asako is passionate about creating an environment of better understanding towards a more diverse Japanese society. She is currently a trainer at an international NGO which organizes children’s cross-cultural camps.

    Tracy Oyekanmi is a marketing communications professional with over a decade of experience working with multicultural teams across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. She hosts the “Visible At Work” podcast, where she shares practical insights and brings guests to discuss their experiences of working abroad. Her goal is to help professionals develop communication skills to navigate their workplace in a new country.

    Tracy is rounding up her master’s degree in strategic communication at La Salle University, Philadelphia, while living with her family in Vancouver.

    Jessi Vance grew up in Central Asia, graduated from Hope International University (Fullerton, CA 2013) with a specialized degree in Third Culture Kid Care and is uniquely equipped to connect with and advocate for a growing, culturally confused population.

    In 2013, Jessi founded Kaleidoscope, a non-profit committed to seeing third culture kids not just survive but thrive. She's currently based in New York and survives on a steady diet of airplane food and coffee.

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

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

    SEE: More from Maddie about her aspiration to document and preserve the histories of underrepresented TCKs.

    Congratulations and welcome to all! We look forward to meeting and learning more from you.

    For the Scholars’ full bios, please see Introducing the David C Pollock Scholars 2020.

    Support the Scholarship!

    Each year at conference, we hold a Lucky Draw to raise funds for future Scholars. We hope many of you will support our Pollock Scholarship Fund and take part! The Scholars will be selling tickets during FIGT2020—so do say hello to the Scholars and get your tickets from them.

    We are also happily accepting donations for the Lucky Draw, such as books, coaching sessions, and workshops. The Lucky Draw provides a great platform for people to hear about your services and raises funds for a good cause—continuing the Pollock Scholar legacy! 

    Please contact Matilda Criel-Ewoldt, Scholarship Chair, for further information at scholarship@figt.org.

  • 15 Nov 2019 6:43 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)
    When the mobile life puts your life in turmoil, traditions and rituals take on a new significance. For November 2019, FIGT focuses on the theme “Traditions and things that preserve our identity.”

    Moving in general, and moving abroad in specific, brings our lives into turmoil. Things that have been taken for granted such as access to familiar foods, stores, or locations. Time difference to friends and family might challenge communications with loved ones and language issues might impact the ease of building up a new social network. 

    In these difficult times, traditions and artifacts from our home culture allow us to find comfort and to settle in more easily. Over time, some of these traditions (and collection of local artifacts) might change and be enriched by new experiences which make the global life so colourful and satisfying. 

    A move is often perceived as a chance to 'Marie Kondo' our lives, but we need to be careful to preserve, and to cherish, traditions, artifacts, and experiences as they are a piece of ourselves. We hope you enjoy our content this month and find some inspiration.

    To access the content: Please join us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Video content will be available for the month and then archived to the members’ only section of this website.

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    As part of adapting and adjusting, most expats find some combination of strange and different alongside the familiar and comforting, even with the fundamental of our traditions: food. Jonelle Hilleary reminisces about the quest for home foods among expats living in a country with few options.

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    New School Year, New Self-Care Routines 

    Health and wellness coach Stacey Arsenault explains the 5 dimensions of self-care:  physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and social. She reminds us to ritualize self-care, to make it part of our routine. Although targeting students, this article is relevant for anyone entering into a new phase of life.

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  • 12 Nov 2019 10:30 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Stepping up as our 2019-2020 Scholarship Chair is Matilda Criel-Ewoldt, herself a former Pollock Scholar. While researching TCKs’ coping mechanisms, Matilda was losing her own sense of her culture. She shares how overwhelming it was to finally feel understood.

    Can you please briefly describe your FIGT role?

    My role is to select the Pollock Scholars for the FIGT2020 conference — those who represent a missing voice at FIGT, who would be unable to attend without a scholarship. The scholarship is an outright recognition that all voices must be heard, regardless of financial situation.

    As Scholarship Chair, it will be my privilege to be a supportive presence for the Scholars throughout the conference. I want to be their point of reference throughout an overwhelming time, when they are meeting new people yet feeling a sense of belonging. I believe this will be my most important role.

    I’ll also oversee the lucky draw to raise funds for next year’s Scholars! I am excited about this, as it will encourage me to learn more about FIGT members and their contributions to the global nomad field.

    What inspired you to stand for this particular office?

    The first reason was my own experience as an FIGT2019 Scholar. I felt accepted and inspired. I bonded with my fellow Scholars and learned so much about supporting the global community, especially through exchanging ideas with experienced and knowledgeable people. It made me realize the amazing support and resource that FIGT can be. 

    I presented my doctoral research on TCKs and was grateful that, for the first time in my life, I did not have to explain what a TCK was, how they might think differently or have a different identity due to their upbringing — it was already understood.

    I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to experience it through the scholarship.

    Another inspiration was Jody Tangredi. She was the last FIGT Scholarship Chair and my main reference throughout the FIGT2019. Jody was such a helpful presence and a great emotional support, providing me encouragement and guidance and introducing me to so many different people in our community. She made me feel valued and that I belonged. 

    Finally, what inspired me to be Scholarship Chair was my own research background. I am currently working on my doctorate in psychology and my main focus has been on how cultural factors might affect the therapeutic alliance. 

    I want to provide a safe, helpful space for Scholars to discuss their own experiences with culture and their ability to cope with difficult transitions. I believe that such a space for self-exploration is necessary, especially within the socio-emotional focus of FIGT. 

    And I firmly believe that this platform can help us gain greater knowledge of ourselves and how to move forward. 

    Anything you particularly hope to accomplish this year? What do you look forward to?

    I look forward to meeting the 2020 Pollock Scholars in person! I hope that I can provide a space for sharing and be a helpful guide for their FIGT experience. And I look forward to sharing ideas and experiences with the Scholars and FIGT members in general.

    This year, I also hope to integrate with the FIGT community. As a newer member, I want to learn more about the members of this community. 

    Finally, I’ve been discussing with fellow board members many ideas for the Scholars and am excited for what is ahead! 

    Your favorite thing about being a part of FIGT?

    The best part about FIGT is the sense of belonging. After living for quite a while in southern California, I felt lost in my sense of what my culture was and where exactly I fit in within the American culture.

    FIGT gave me the courage to not feel I had to “pick” between my cultures, but rather live within the ambiguity of it all.

    The presence of other people who understand the feeling of not truly fitting in anywhere was an amazing experience. For the first time, I felt heard and understood. I have never had a place to just be; the FIGT2019 was a great place to do so.

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

    I will be vulnerable and share this... At FIGT2019, the last day when it was all over, I cried! I felt so overwhelmed. FIGT made me feel understood and gave me such a sense of belonging that I was really sad to leave. For the first time, I felt like I had a space to talk about all of the emotions of growing up as a TCK. It just all came out that last day! 

    My favorite place in the world would probably be my grandparent’s apartment in Rome... When traveling all over the world, their home was a constant. It made me feel at peace — no matter how hectic our lives became, their home would stay the same. It gave me some sense of constancy when I felt like my life was turned upside down. 

    Please share some words of wisdom for FIGT members and globally mobile people in general!

    Be okay with being yourself. For a long time I tried so hard to mold myself to new places so I could feel like I belonged. Now, I am working on letting go and just letting myself be. It’s a lot easier said than done and I still have a long way to go! But one step at a time.

    You can learn more about Matilda in the board member bios section. FIGT members can also check out her FIGT2019 poster presentation on TCK coping mechanisms. Don’t miss more from our new 2019-2020 board members! 

  • 09 Nov 2019 9:49 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    It's been a great month to see #FIGTMembers shining all around the world. We round up the news for November 2019.

    Huge congratulations to #FIGTMember Amanda McCue who has been elected as the next President of the ACT Division of the Career Development Association of Australia. You can read more about Amanda’s work in supporting military spouses and advocacy in partner employment here.

    It was great to see that the social media account for The Expatriate Archive Centre on Twitter @WeAreXpats featured two #FIGTMembers as its guest curators. Well done to both #FIGTMembers Cath Brew and Alaine Handa for talking about FIGT during their takeovers.

    We were also really excited to see #FIGTMember Sundae Schneider Bean introduce her Expat Coach Coalition program aimed as a professional development opportunity for coaches, counselors and psychologists who want to add to their toolset to serve those in global mobility.

    Congratulations to #FIGTMember Lisa Ferland for launching the second book in her children series! First came, When The Clock Strikes on Halloween, followed by When The Clock Strikes on Christmas Eve. We can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

    It is also lovely to see when #FIGTMembers join forces to work together! We are excited to hear that #FIGTMember Melissa Parks and Dr. Sonia Jaeger are working together to create an online community for location independent therapists and mental health coaches. For more information, sign up here.

    Last but not least, we are very proud that alongside FIGT who has been shortlisted for the Forum for Expatriate Management's EMEA EMMA Awards, so have a few of our members too! Congratulations to #FIGTMember Deborah Valentine from ACCESS Netherlands, #FIGTMember and Board Member Dr. Anne Lesle for her research on expatriate spouses and #FIGTMember Alan L. King from King & Mayr for making the shortlist.

    If you have some news to share, please let us know! You can submit your news via the online form or contact membership.
  • 07 Nov 2019 11:03 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)
    Starting off our series of new 2019-2020 board member profiles is Mariam Ottimofiore, Membership Chair. An avid believer in the rich resource that is FIGT’s member community, she encourages everyone to get involved...because “the more you give, the more you'll receive.”

    Can you please briefly describe your FIGT role?

    I am thrilled to be the new Membership Chair for FIGT. My role is to enhance, expand, and shape FIGT’s membership offering and to proactively engage with our membership network.

    I report to the FIGT Treasurer and also work closely with other Board members such as Communications, Sponsorship, and Research & Education to ensure clarity, cohesion, and support towards our overall FIGT mission of serving globally mobile individuals and families.

    What inspired you to stand for this particular office?

    I strongly believe that FIGT’s members are its greatest resource. There is an incredible depth of knowledge and expertise amongst the FIGT community and I believe becoming part of the FIGT members group is a huge opportunity to learn, grow, share, and connect.

    Our members are essential and critical to FIGT’s mission of serving cross-cultural and globally mobile individuals and families, and I look forward to promoting the idea of membership being a two-way street: the more you give, the more you'll receive.

    Anything you particularly hope to accomplish this year? What do you look forward to?

    I am looking forward to interacting closely with FIGT members to understand their needs and develop new privileges that would be of benefit to them. I am also interested in reaching out to potential members to promote our current offerings.

    I am particularly excited about reaching out to individual members such as your average expat parents looking for resources, community, and support that I believe FIGT can provide.

    I am also looking forward to revamping the FIGT bookstore directory to promote books written by FIGT members.

    Lastly, I am looking to expand FIGT and its mission to diversify its reach to include refugee families, immigrant families raising cross-cultural kids, migrant workers who often move while leaving their families behind, and to all others who are part of families in global transition. Transition affects us all, regardless of our status or privilege.

    Your favorite thing about being a part of FIGT?

    I have been a part of the FIGT community for the past three years and without a doubt my favorite thing about FIGT is the connections I have formed both online and offline with people who care passionately about living a global life and living it well.

    I love that, thanks to FIGT, if I have a question on managing dual careers or am looking for resources on how to support my kids through yet another move or how to raise a multilingual kid, I know who to reach out to for answers, help, guidance, and support.

    I personally love the support I have received from FIGT members in my work and the feeling of belonging to the “FIGT Family”.

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

    Even though I’ve lived in nine countries and moved countless of times, I haven’t developed the global skills of packing a suitcase expertly, reading a map, or remembering which country has which voltage! As a result, I always leave the packing to the professionals, get lost in every new city and country I call my home and always pack a million international adaptors when I move.

    One of my most embarrassing moments happened when I had newly arrived in Copenhagen and did not know my way around the city at all. When my husband left for his first day at work, I went out to explore the city and got terribly lost.

    In the end, desperate, I hailed a cab (obviously I had no clue how expensive cab rides were in Copenhagen) and gave the cabbie the name of the temporary housing we were staying in. I pronounced it all wrong, so the cabbie looked at me confused.

    Then I remembered the street name that I had memorized and written down just in case (this was before the advent of an iPhone). When I showed it to him, he burst out laughing!

    Turns out “ensrettet vej” in Danish means “one-way street.” So, we had deduced that where I needed to go was on a one-way street somewhere in Copenhagen!

    I have never been more embarrassed in my life, but it did provide me with the incentive to start learning Danish immediately.

    Please share some words of wisdom for FIGT members and globally mobile people in general!

    Don’t be afraid to share your ideas and benefit from the knowledge, experience, and resources within the FIGT members group. Always keep space at the table for others.

    You don’t need to figure out this international life all by yourselves. There is a welcoming community out there, the FIGT community, who can make you feel less alone and be your anchor as you navigate the foreign seas.

    Cover photo courtesy of Mariam Ottimofiore.

    You can learn more about Mariam in the Board Member bios section. She's keen to hear from members! Not a member yet but curious to find out what it entails? Learn more about membership.

  • 05 Nov 2019 12:03 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    American Psychologist, Expatriate Archive Centre, and Solebury School — all three sustain the globally mobile, cross-cultural community in their distinct ways. FIGT is lucky to have them as Silver Sponsors this year. 

    We are fortunate to have supportive sponsors and that has been particularly true when it comes to our Silver Sponsors this year. All three sustain the globally mobile, cross-cultural community, each in their own distinctly different ways.

    American Psychologist / Burdick Psychological and Placement Services, led by founder and adult Third Culture Kid Dr. Mark Burdick, is a family-based, concierge psychological services provider, consultancy, and education & program placement agency. Located in Amsterdam, and with four other offices registered in the EU, UK, and US, they serve families worldwide.

    The challenges faced by expat families are varied and sometimes daunting. Many of American Psychologist’s clients have youngsters with learning or emotional issues. Others are exceptionally bright and need a challenge or better educational fit. Still others grapple with addiction.

    Mark arranges for expert placement at treatment centers, while providing continuing support to these at-risk expat families during and after placement.

    The mission of the Expatriate Archive Centre (EAC) is to capture, chronicle and protect the life stories of expats and their families, from all backgrounds and from anywhere in the world.

    Located in The Hague, The Netherlands and independent since 2008, the EAC originally grew out of archival efforts by the Shell Corporation reaching back to the 1990s.

    EAC Director Kristine Racine – a previous president of FIGT – knows firsthand the natural connection between the two organizations.

    “We both believe in a need to provide better understanding of challenges faced by global families.”

    She indicated that the EAC would love to see more researchers using their archives.

    “We are also looking for ways to expand our collection, and are eager to get in touch with people who have documented their expatriate experiences and are willing to share them with us.”

    Solebury School, an American college-preparatory boarding and day school for grades 8-12 located north of Philadelphia, 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 programs for half-year, one-year, exchange, summer, English as a Second Language, university prep, and post-graduate study. The school also has an exciting initiative – The Solebury School Scholarship for Global Citizens.

    Solebury School came to FIGT by way of Jennifer Morrissey, Solebury’s Director of International Recruitment. Another adult Third Culture Kid, she used her cross-cultural child- and young adulthood to forge a varied career in secondary and higher education international recruitment, admissions, programming, and teaching.

    We sincerely appreciate the partnership each of our distinctive Silver Sponsors shares with FIGT and express our gratitude for their support!

    For more information about sponsorship opportunities, please visit our sponsorship page.

  • 01 Nov 2019 3:45 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    This month, we’re looking at “difficult times” in the many stages of a mobile life and “resilience” to get us through. We’ve dug through our archives and found some gems from our members.

    5 Things to Remember When Circumstances Overwhelm You

    By Norman Viss

    We’re all influenced by circumstances. And global citizens are often more aware of circumstances than those who remain in the routines of home. Contemplating Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl’s words in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Norman Viss offers five thoughts to help us cope with times when circumstances overwhelm us.

    Expat Life, Expat Death

    By Apple Gidley

    Losing our loved ones is never easy but when distance intervenes, too often the heartbreak is tainted with a sense of guilt. Apply Gidley’s tale of losing her father reflects a painful reality of expat life and expat death.

    The Real Stages of Moving Abroad

    By Naomi Hattaway

    The so-called four stages of post-move adjustment is fairly well known — but reality isn’t quite so tidy. One global nomad, Naomi Hattaway, tells us about the real stages of moving abroad!

    ¿Perdido en la incertidumbre? Ever Felt Lost in Uncertainty?

    By Paula Vexlir

    A Spanish-English bilingual post. 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.

    Expat Communication with Friends and Family...What We Really Mean by “Fine”

    By Rachel Yates

    One of the hardest things about relocating abroad is leaving dear friends and family behind. If you're finding it difficult to explain how conflicted life is as an expat, Rachel Yates has put together some pointers that you can share with those 'left behind.'

    SOS: Homesickness at Boarding School

    By Rebecca Grappo

    Your child at boarding school calls you to say they are unhappy. What should you do? Educational consultant Rebecca Grappo reassures parents not to panic. The first thing is to assess whether it’s a true crisis call or a reaching out for support, and then act accordingly.

    Reverse Culture Shock. Repatriation. Re-entry. Returning Home.

    By Lindy Chapman

    Moving back “home” is actually not unlike moving to a foreign country. So why is repatriation so hard?! Lindy explains how expectations have a lot to do with it and then provides eight practical tips to help you successfully anticipate and navigate the return “home.”

    The Dilemma of Belonging Everywhere, and Nowhere

    By Jonelle Hilleary

    How do expats grapple with the need to belong when we seem to belong everywhere and nowhere at the same time? Can we ever go “home”? Jonelle Hilleary ponders the question in the years after her repatriation.

    Interested in contributing to the blog for future themes? Small business and corporate members can submit up to three posts a year — submit your article here. Other members: if you have an idea please get in touch with blogeditor@figt.org to discuss.

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