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.

  • 07 Jan 2020 9:27 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Families in Global Transition is thrilled to announce that its longtime sponsor, CrossBorder Living Institute, has renewed again at the Gold level. 

    “It is hard to imagine us as being anything other than a sponsor of FIGT,” says Jennifer Patterson, co-founder of CrossBorder Living Institute. “We are deeply committed to the globally mobile community, and while we believe that sponsorship helps demonstrate this, more importantly, our renewal is truly about helping to increase FIGT’s impact.”

    “We know that working together, specifically through providing funding via a renewal of the CrossBorder Living Institute’s commitment at the gold level, FIGT is in a better position to continue providing leadership, bringing forth various voices and important issues and ideas, and reaching as many families, individuals and organizations as possible.”

    Jennifer, who has lived abroad more than half her life, and her dual-national husband Jeff, have raised two tri-national children while working for their own advisory firm for international clients, Patterson Partners

    They know firsthand the stresses and challenges that can accompany the globally mobile life, and have dedicated their lives to helping those living and working across cultures to gain the financial information and services they require and to find regulated financial firms able to provide that.

    To do the latter, they created CrossBorder Living Institute, which teaches cross-border technical and practice-related topics to financial practitioners. The Institute also provides events and training for the globally mobile to create, grow and manage their financial assets — regardless of how much or how little they might be — in a way that best supports how they want to live.

    We love the FIGT2020 theme, Embracing and Bridging Differences, and are truly excited, on so many levels, that it was chosen to kick off the decade we’re entering,” explains Jennifer.

    “Philosophically, we believe the most effective strategy for moving through the complications that come with different cultural and familial imprints — some of which have a far-reaching impact on how we make key life and financial decisions — is when each of us is well served by considering our individual differences, seeking to find where we might already have alignment, and identifying a way to bridge areas where we don’t immediately align.”

    Many thanks to Jennifer, Jeff, and CrossBorder Living Institute for their continued Gold Sponsorship of FIGT!

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

  • 03 Jan 2020 1:20 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    We kick off the new year by talking to the 2020 Pollock Scholars. First up is international educator Jacob Daniel Huff, who realized he was a TCK long after he became one. He tells us how it fed his passion to support children growing up in an international environment.

    2020 Pollock Scholar Jacob Daniel Huff is an international educator who as a child grew up across three different US states and then moved to Vietnam. As an adult, he has lived in four different countries with his Korean-born American wife and their daughter. Jacob is fascinated by how students develop a sense of identity in an international context.

    Now Elementary Principal at Oasis International School, Kuala Lumpur, he is working on his doctorate in curriculum and instruction and plans to focus his dissertation on multigenerational TCKs.

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

    I first heard about Families and Global Transition when I was researching Third Culture Kids for my doctoral studies—I believe it was when I was reading Dr. Anastasia Lijadi’s work on place identity construction, just before the 2019 conference. Looking at the sessions, I decided that I would try to attend the 2020 conference. When I found out about the David C. Pollock scholarship, I put it on my calendar to apply.

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

    I am the principal of an international elementary school, so I am serving the needs of TCKs every day. I am also doing my doctoral work on international teacher understanding and practices in regard to identity development in TCKs. I am about to begin work on case studies of multigenerational TCK families. Each story will be different, but they will all focus on the development of identity in these families.

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

    When I was a teenager, I moved with my family to Vietnam and though at the time I did not know what a TCK was, I became one. After I became an international educator and learned the term, I not only saw that this group existed and recognized the importance of meeting these students’ needs, but I realized I had had many of the struggles often associated with TCKs.

    The field of TCK research is important to me personally because I am an ATCK; as an international educator, because TCKs are the population I serve; and as a father, because I am raising a TCK.

    What do you look forward to at FIGT2020 in Bangkok?

    I am looking forward to the sessions, particularly those by Dr. Lijadi and Ruth E. Van Reken. I am also looking forward to meeting old friends and new people who care deeply about TCK issues, sharing stories, and learning people’s backgrounds.

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

    Whenever I am traveling or whenever I move to a new country, one of my favorite things is to explore the street food. I can pretty much guarantee that I will enjoy any country with a vibrant, delicious street-food culture. When I spend an extended period of time in the US, street food is the thing that I miss the most. What I love about street food are the smells, the simplicity, the bold flavors, the communal nature of it, and the way that it is soaked in the culture of the place.

    ALSO: Read Jacob's full bio and learn about all the 2020 Scholars

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

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

  • 27 Dec 2019 4:17 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Last but not least among the new 2019-2020 Board members we've interviewed is Tanya Crossman, who has a big job ahead preparing for FIGT 2020 as Logistics Director. 

    Can you please describe your FIGT role?

    I am FIGT’s Logistics Director. I am responsible for coordinating logistics for the annual FIGT conference — venue, catering, registration, and all the other bits and pieces involved in event planning and coordination. I coordinate with an event manager at the venue and lead a committee of FIGT members who volunteer their time and talents to the smooth running of the conference. 

    What inspired you to stand for this particular office?

    I had a somewhat unconventional path to the board. I served as co-director for much of 2019 while the previous director, Kate Berger, was on maternity leave. Although I had only been to one FIGT conference (in 2017), I was very excited that FIGT was coming to Asia, where I live. I have a lot of experience with event logistics, so I volunteered to join the new Logistics Committee. A couple of months later I was unexpectedly "promoted" when I was asked to coordinate the event logistics in Kate’s place. 

    The experience of collaborating and contributing was really special, and I decided to apply to join the board in my own right. 

    Logistics is a skill I can offer, but for me, joining the board is about having a voice in how FIGT grows and develops as an organization. I believe in what FIGT is and does, so much so that I not only want to give my time and talents to it, but I want a seat at the table.

    I was also inspired by the board members themselves. In my interim role, I joined their meetings and was blown away by their passion, commitment, and support for one another. 

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

    I will be continuing the work Kate began, growing the Logistics Committee and strengthening long-term strategic planning. I hope to oversee moving the conference again, and setting up a system to facilitate rotating the FIGT conference around the world. 

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

    Walking into a room full of people who GET IT because they’ve experienced some of the same things — there’s so much you don’t have to explain! And being part of a global community that is committed to being relational and supporting one another, through resources and advice and encouragement.

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

    I’m fairly fluent in Mandarin Chinese (both written and spoken). After my first 10 years in China, I spent a few years living in my native Australia, and I discovered that the Chinese side of my brain would get bored if not exercised regularly. If I went a couple of weeks without a conversation in Chinese, I would start unconsciously inserting Mandarin sentences into my English conversations, utterly confusing my Australian friends!

    A few of them started to play along — guessing at what I said and making a joke of it. I loved it! They couldn’t share the Chinese language with me, but their acknowledgment of my bilingual self meant the world to me.

    Please share some words of wisdom for globally mobile people.

    One of the hardest experiences in life is isolation — to feel alone in a group of people, to feel no one understands your experience. FIGT is a great space for alleviating the isolation around international life and transition.

    You are not the first or only person to experience what you’re going through. There are people with advice and resources to share — and people who need the advice and resources you can offer them! When we connect and communicate in the relational community that FIGT provides, we all make each other stronger.

    Come talk with Tanya at FIGT2020, where she’ll be presenting a Morning Forum “Support During University Transition” with Aleka Bilan, Jason Coates, and Karla Fraser! You can learn more about Tanya in the board member bios section and members can also listen to her talk, “Third Culture Kids 101.”

  • 20 Dec 2019 1:48 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Language is a gift. There are myriad benefits in learning to communicate across different languages. FIGT kicks off this month’s theme “multilingualism.”

    Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

    There are myriad benefits in learning to communicate across different languages. Language is not only a means for communication but a link to culture and identity, especially for those growing up in a cross-cultural environment or raising multilingual children.

    Whatever your motivation for living multilingually, the rewards can be vast; yet, it’s not always easy.

    Here are some ways to approach the broad subject of multilingualism:

    Benefits of multilingualism

    Apart from the usefulness of being able to bargain at a local market, what other benefits does being bi-/multilingual bring? (An interesting read: “The amazing benefits of being bilingual,” BBC.com, 13 August 2016.)

    Learning a language as an adult

    We know that learning a language is a great way to adapt to and get to know other cultures. But it can be challenging. Can adults still attain fluency? What are some tips to help adult learners? What are the differences between learning a language as an adult vs as a child? (A hopeful read: “MIT Scientists prove adults learn language to fluency nearly as well as children,” Medium.com, 4 May 2018.)

    Language, culture, and identity

    How does language interact with culture and identity? When children reach adolescence and start to form their identities, the languages they speak may form a part of their answer to the question “Who am I?” What about those who learn new languages as adults? What do we know about the language-identity link, and what does it mean for globally mobile families, TCKs, and CCKs, and their cultural heritage and connections with extended family? What should family members, teachers, and other adults know? (Language apparently matters most when people define national identity: “What It Takes to Truly Be ‘One of Us,’” Pew Research, 1 February 2017.) 

    Raising multilingual children

    Each family needs to find the strategy that works for them, but what are some common approaches to raising multilingual children? Is it true that multilingualism can cause speech delays? Can it ever be too late for a child to learn a language?

    There are so many questions, and there are also many resources and support out there, but here are two places you might start:

    ALSO: We asked FIGT Member and family language coach Rita Rosenback to share some resources on multilingualism to help us make sense of the plethora of information online.

    To access this month’s 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.

    We would love to hear about your experiences! If you’re an FIGT member and would like to contribute to this theme, please contact social-lead@figt.org. Small business and corporate members can also submit up to three blog posts a year — submit your article here or get in touch with blogeditor@figt.org.

  • 16 Dec 2019 2:46 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Relocation manager LaShell (Shelly) Tinder stepped up as FIGT Treasurer for 2019-2020 when she saw the organization’s need. She values “our ability to relate with one another and ensure our humanity is always at the forefront of what we do and how we treat others.” (And she’s bringing her TCK daughter to FIGT2020!)

    Can you please describe your FIGT role?

    As Treasurer, my job is to ensure transparency around the budget, to elevate the FIGT Board members’ knowledge of our financial solvency, and to guide team members in fiduciary decisions to ensure the organization can support the community with scholarships, information through our website, and events.

    What inspired you to stand for this particular office?

    I didn't initially seek out the role of Treasurer; however, when I learned they didn't have applicants and I knew I had the background needed to fulfill the duties, I adjusted my vision of how I could contribute to the organization.

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

    My plans are to: 

    • Meet with the accountants to see if we can change the way in which information is presented to make it easier to review.

    • Look at our banking relationship to see what options exist and ensure we have a sustainable supplier solution given the distance / locations of our board members and the need for digitized banking solutions.

    • Meet with Scholarship, Sponsorship, and Membership team members to see how I can support them in their work.

    • Contribute as a thought leader to the Executive Committee where I have experience from my own expatriate experiences and a seat at the corporate table to drive mobility practices for families. 

    What I’m looking forward to is attending the conference! It has been a number of years—I haven't been to a conference since it has been held outside of the US. It will be great to connect with everyone again! 

    I am also bringing my daughter, Kate Pellegrino: TCK, born in Belgium, grew up in Venezuela and Ecuador, repatriated to the US when she was nearly 11. She’s on a professional journey and I think connecting with other TCKs and CCKs will give her lots of inspiration. She spoke at the 2016 Worldwide ERC Global Workforce Symposium in Boston and left the crowd enamored with her...proud Mama moment! 

    Your favorite thing about being a part of FIGT?

    When I first attended in 2004, I found “home” in the community and realized I wasn't alone. After living abroad for 11 years, repatriation was quite challenging. FIGT gave me a great base to get reacquainted with my homeland and feel OK about not liking everything. 

    A few years later when my children began to struggle with their “TCKness,” I brought home Third Culture Kids: Growing up Among Worlds to them. Steve and Kate both said, “This is our bible.” They found pieces of themselves in the writings and it helped normalize what they were experiencing. 

    I am so thankful for the support and community with FIGT!

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

    I was becoming more adept with Spanish and was standing at the window to get my cedula in Venezuela. The woman asked me, “Su altura” (your height). I very confidently responded, “Cinco pie y tres pulgas.” I proceeded to scratch my head as it was quite hot and I felt a bit itchy. The woman stepped back a bit.

    It was then my husband turned to me smiling and said, “You just told her you are 5 feet 3 fleas.” We have had a good laugh over that one a few times.

    Please share some words of wisdom for FIGT members and other globally mobile people.

    In this world of globalization, digitized conversations, and hurried communication, we risk losing our greatest trait—our ability to relate with one another and ensure our humanity is always at the forefront of what we do and how we treat others. 

    Being a part of FIGT is a constant and easy reminder to bring your humanity forward to all conversations. By doing this, we become more tolerant, at ease with others, and hone our cultural agility.

    Look for Shelly and her daughter at FIGT2020! (And read about another FIGT mom who brought her daughter to the FIGT conference). You can learn more about Shelly in the board member bios section. 

  • 10 Dec 2019 2:08 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Families in Global Transition is deeply honored to announce that our generous Anonymous Donor has chosen to sponsor again this year at the Platinum level.

    In keeping with their desire to maintain the focus on FIGT and its mission as a welcoming forum for globally mobile individuals, families, and those working with them across cultures, they are once more electing to remain nameless.

    Who is this generous FIGT supporter, and why the secrecy? 

    Our Anonymous Donor wouldn’t tell you any of this, but I will. 

    They are a longtime member of FIGT and a highly respected, staunch advocate of the globally mobile community. They know firsthand what it’s like to find oneself in a new culture, experience culture shock, transition from old to new—over and over again—and understand that it’s only by embracing the different pieces that we create the fullest meaning of such a life. 

    They know the seasons and stages of life: raising TCK children, maintaining a strong partnership, developing a robust career, modeling how to exit that with grace and excitement when new opportunities and interests come calling—creating an equally impressive second career, all the while giving of their time, talent, or treasure whenever possible. 

    They recognize the value of using their voice on behalf of others. They know the importance of social impact. Always building, networking, connecting, bridging.

    So it isn’t all that surprising that our Anonymous Donor chooses not to identify themselves. In a world where voices are often clamoring for attention, sometimes it is the silence that speaks loudest.

    Be a part of this community and join us at the FIGT 2020 Conference!

  • 06 Dec 2019 6:34 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Deborah Valentine may have just started a new tradition for her 18-year-old daughter: attending FIGT conferences. She muses how FIGT might create a space for our younger family members to engage and interact.

    By Deborah Valentine

    I had my reasons, but the results surpassed my expectations.

    Taking my 18-year-old daughter to FIGT2019 was a plan I hatched in the months before the conference. I felt she could benefit—by seeing, hearing and being with people like me, like her. That the trip was taking place just before her final exams caused some ‘surprise’ from my ex—but with promises to study every now and then, and good grades going into her finals, we went ahead.


    My whole life I have been on the move. From the day I was born, to the year I turned 40, I had moved every four years—more or less. My father is Canadian, my mother a Jamaican immigrant to Canada—and I and my two brothers have three different birth countries. This was, and is, my normal.

    After my studies I started my own global career, married a Dutch diplomat and had two children in two different countries, and continued my career. 

    As life would have it, the journey which was to have continued stopped. My (ex)spouse and I separated but I continued to live in his passport (now also my passport) country. The children—then 5 and 3—began their journey in one place, at a local school. A place where they were locals—and yet ….

    In recent years I had observed in my daughter some unspoken wrestling with identity; observed what I considered to be feelings of ‘the other’, sometimes not fully understanding her mothers’ identity, and the many layers it has acquired over the years. 

    Who knows what the spark was that led me to suggest she join me in Bangkok. But, her answer was yes! She knew it would not be a vacation/tourist kind of trip. I would be ‘working’ during the conference, and would ask for her help. And, I wanted her to write about the experience afterwards.


    Her reception—by my fellow Board members, interactions and experience with conference attendees, the help and support during the conference—were, truly, an experience to be cherished. 

    While I had made the suggestion to come—for her sake—it was I who was enriched. By seeing her flourish and by the conversations resulting from presentations heard and experiences lived—not only with me, but with the strangers she met...this mama’s heart could not have been fuller. 

    And, while I am still waiting for the review of her impressions, I know, in my heart, that she heard and experienced things that perhaps will help her understand herself better, and her mother too. 

    Many conference attendees expressed surprise, admiration even at my bringing her. I had not expected that but the resulting conversations made us all realise: here we were at a conference talking about ‘families/children/TCKs etc.’ and yet, very few of them were actually present—sharing their own impressions, listening and contributing to the dialogue. 

    So, if one person’s experience can be a source of inspiration, let me say this: I would encourage those who can to bring their children—young adults—to the conference. They will enlighten, but also be enriched by the experience. 

    Who knows, maybe there would be room for ‘off-site evening sessions’ for these young bright minds of the future to reflect with and for us on their own perceptions of what we are collectively sharing. I am told, the ‘early birds’ may not be up their alley ;)

    Oh, and as a final note: she passed her exams! But I am still waiting for her ‘impressions’ LOL.

    Deborah Valentine is a Canadian, born in Germany; her parents are from Canada and Jamaica; she lived in three countries before the age of six, and since then relocated every four years until she ‘hit’ Holland. After 11 relocations, five languages and experiences as ‘child of’, ‘spouse of’, ‘mother of’—not to mention expat professional herself with the UN—she more than understands what it is to live and work in other countries, and is passionate about the tribes she is a member of. Currently she is Executive Director of ACCESS, a not-for-profit volunteer organization in the Netherlands.

  • 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!

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