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.

  • 26 May 2017 3:30 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    PPWR Reflections 2017: FIGT First Impressions

    In this week's post, Sarah Stoner has jotted down her impressions from the FIGT conference. Sarah touches on a key challenge that TCK's might face when our adventurous selves move into a monocultural day-to-day. 

    It is our unique differences and experiences abroad that unite our tribe and bring our community together. However, for some of us, our international selves feel far behind as we adapt to a monocultural community, we now call home. 

    Have I stayed in the same place too long? What if my last international trip was 5 years ago? That is totally okay. Experiences never leave you. 

    Am I still a TCK? Do I still fit in with my TCK tribe? The answer is always YES!  

    (The Writing Team at FIGT 2017)

    A few weeks before FIGT, I lost my toenail. Skiing ‘accident’ (tight new boots). It looks really gross. Clearly, a toenail belongs there. 

    In my life, too, a piece is missing. I live in the US, my ‘passport’ country, as an adult Third Culture Kid (ATCK). I’m a multicultural mama raising my kids in a monoculture. Like most of us ATCKs, I try to adapt. Which means putting a sock over it. Wearing closed-toed shoes. Because, somehow, in the busy-nesses of raising a family, talking about my ‘old’ life with people in my rural town feels… decorative. Showy and nonessential. Like a toenail.  

    Until I stumble across a call for writing scholars for Families in Global Transition (FIGT), I’d set aside my TCK past to manage an overwhelming present. Two young kids. Five contract jobs (editor of nonprofit journals), constantly overlapping. Twenty acres of rural land to tend to, from a house that, until recently, was off-the-grid and entirely solar powered. Adventure enough!

    I apply. I’m awarded the position, along with three other women. All of whom live overseas or work in the intercultural world. Suddenly, I’m face-to-face with my TCK-on-a-shelf self. 

    I feel like the odd man out. I am the only one not living an expat life, currently or even recently. When I log on to figt.org, I find myself looking at the circular FIGT logo… No, I stare into it as if it’s a crystal ball for my questions. How do I fit in to this community? I’m not living the overseas life. I’m not in global transition. I’m raising my kids in a monoculture.

    Spoiler alert: Turns out, there is room for everyone at the FIGT table. 

    Families in Global Transition… current, former. And in support of. We all have a place in the community of FIGT. I walked away from conference feeling awakened, connected, inspired. Hearing people’s stories awakens my own. Learning about solutions being brainstormed for TCKs today – including the amazing Safe Passage Across Networks (SPAN) groundwork being laid by FIGT members joining forces – inspires and reassures me. I have countless notes, ideas, thoughts bubbling. 

    It’s hard to fit all that the FIGT 2017 gathering offered up in one – or even ten – attempts. I’ll do my best to begin. 

    Indelibly, FIGT 2017 left its mark. Unlike a missing toenail, three points imprinted like footprints in soft sand – guideposts for me in moving forward:

    1.Tell Your Story

    The theme of integrating with our whole selves by telling and claiming our TCK and expat stories showed itself in a variety ways: research numbers, sub-group studies, kitchen table sharing. In the Ignite sessions, Maria Lombart explained the importance of revisiting and returning to the places where you came from – another way to integrate your stories and memories. Janneke Muyselaar-Jellema reminded me of the importance of sharing my stories with my children. “Kids who know their families stories fare better and are more resilient,” she explained. “Tell your stories! Because that’s the thing about being a TCK – we hide who we are in order to adapt. Stories fare better and are more resilient,” she explained. 

    2.Find a Place Where Others Are Also Different

    “Choose a place where enough people are also different, who know what it is to be different.” That’s Cliff Gardner, in the plenary panel discussing different ways to approach connecting your past to your present. Ah, if I could turn back time… However, now, with this new lens, I can view and untangle my own repatriation process. Perhaps, with more compassion for how I arrived at where I am now. And to consider how to best move forward from here.

    3.Claim and Name Who You Are

    Along the same lines as telling your story: “Claiming and naming who you are is a risk,” said Marilyn Gardner, in the panel on connecting your multicultural past to your present. And risk taking has a high pay-off potential… of becoming more whole, more connected to your full self. The fantastic thing is, you can’t name who are you are… until you are clear on who you are. And where you want to go. It is a fantastic opportunity for those of us prone to adapting – to find ourselves, to define our values as identity boundaries. 

    Nothing is missing when our selves are revealed. We are whole when we belong. Thank you, FIGT. In your community, I find my way back home. 

    -----Thanks Sarah for your contributions to the community!

  • 12 May 2017 1:50 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)


    (Tone with Sarah Black and Terry Anne Wilson)

    Learn more about the FIGT community in this week's PPWR Reflection by Tone Delin Indrelid! 

    Tone touches on a key point that resonates with many of us in the FIGT community. The fact that being an outsider is in fact a superpower in which you've been trained to recognize community or lack thereof. We have all been there - when you experience that incredible feeling meeting someone new, who you may have no commonalities with, other then being a TCK. And yet, your spirit sings with connection and recognition. Community is when you find yourself surrounded by strangers but feel at home. Thanks for the reminder Tone! 


    Community, as defined by Merriam Webster and by Naomi Hattaway in her Families in Global Transition (FIGT) webinar and Keynote speech, highlights commonality. Shared space, shared interests, attitudes and goals. Joint identity and ownership. A sense of belonging to a group of like-minded others.

    Our sense of who we are, and which communities we belong to, is established through interaction with others over time.

    Living in one place for a long time, people ‘know’ you; if not personally, then they might know someone else who does. My parents, who have lived in the same house since 1972, may not know everyone in their social world, but people can ask “who is that funny old man in number 32?” and someone will have an answer.

    When you move, people don’t know you. When I arrive at a new school with my kids every four years, people may ask “who is that harassed looking woman?” but nobody will be able to answer.

    Everyone who has moved a lot knows that having to find your people and build your communities from scratch is hard. We have no shared social history, nothing to build on. The only way you can establish ties to others is to give of yourself, interact, search. Reach out to those you hope might share your attitudes and interests. Through social interaction over time, you become someone, a member of social communities.

    One of my strongest first impressions of FIGT is how established, and celebrated, the community is. How first timers are included so immediately, by virtue of their presence.

    We may not share a social history. People at FIGT didn’t know I’d lived in Damascus, that I love hiking or that I teach an English class. They may not be able to answer ‘who is she?’ but we already share a strong social connection. We already agree on a set of values, attitudes and interests. Simply by being there, I was counted as part of the community.

    That doesn’t mean I didn’t make an effort to reach out, try and connect with others. There is, however, a difference between working to strengthen ties and a sense of shared belonging that is already established, and searching for commonalities and building fresh ties from scratch.

    Perhaps it takes wanderers, used to being the unknown, to truly recognize the importance of community. Perhaps it takes people who know what it means to feel like an outsider, to recognize how important it is to feel being together. Perhaps it takes people who have done it, again and again, to recognize that being part of a community is a conscious effort; essential to establish who you are in relation to others.

    Thank you, FIGT, for discussing these topics and for the community you all help create and maintain. I am honored to be part of it. 


    Thank you Tone for your contributions to the FIGT community!

  • 05 May 2017 3:33 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    The Parfitt-Pascoe Writing Residency (PPWR) encourages development of writing and blogging skills with scholarship support for the FIGT Annual Conference. 

    2017 PPWR recipients were: Jane Barron, Tone Delin Indrelid, Mariam Ottimofiore, and Sarah Stoner. Congratulations!

    We continue with our post from last week where we highlighted Mariam Ottimofiore and her write-up of the conference by learning more about Jane Barron's experience at the FIGT conference. 

     Jane Barron with FIGT members (third from left). 

    There was plenty of opportunity to anticipate the coming days of the 2017 Families in Global Transition (FIGT) Conference during my 39-hour journey to The Hague from Sydney, Australia. I would not have missed those two flights and two trains for anything, knowing what was ahead of me. #FIGT17NL was my second FIGT conference and the connections made last year have propelled me forward, professionally and personally, over the past 12 months. 

    I was not disappointed. Even in the registration queue on Day One, I was reminded of why I had returned. Joining the back of the line, the attendee before me turned around to say hello, introduce herself and before we knew it, we had found common ground. This greeting set the tone for the entire conference. It was no coincidence that this year’s theme was Building on the Basics: Creating Your Tribe on the Move; after all this is what we do as families in global transition. 228 attendees from 36 countries spent three days amongst our Tribe – a place where we could connect, share, learn, inspire and most importantly, belong. 

    It was such a privilege to be immersed in the depth of experience, wisdom, authenticity and intentionality from across the globe. As a self-confessed research junkie, I sat riveted listening to the latest findings on Third Culture Kids (TCKs), from their unique mindset to their educational experiences. Yet I was equally as captivated by the team from The International School of Brussels as we actively engaged in their redefined admissions process. I gained a new understanding from Kim Hunt and those who sat around her Kitchen Table Conversation discussing Military TCKs and was taken into the world of Third Culture Families, those with an international track record and no defined plans or home base to return to, by Marielle de Spa. These were just some of the enlightening and enriching moments, each of which provided inspiration for personal and professional reflection, which is ongoing.  

    The variety of presentation formats is one aspect of FIGT that really sets it apart as a conference, in my opinion. The Keynote speakers and Concurrent Sessions provided well-founded learning opportunities, whilst the Kitchen Table Conversations, Early Bird Forums and Panel Discussions provided the freedom for sharing and collaboration. As a Writers’ Forum presenter, I learned almost as much as I imparted. One of my favorite formats was the Ignite – the fast-paced session exposing attendees to a variety of viewpoints and experiences. In each six minute 40 second presentation, I was transported to new places and new perspectives.

    Whether it’s the connections ignited and re-ignited, the knowledge gleaned, the perspectives gained or the self-reflection provoked, this year’s FIGT conference was like coming Home. It’s where I added another layer of understanding of who I am and the role I play in supporting my family and the broader Tribe of families in global transition. I count it as a privilege to travel nine time zones to be amongst like-minded global citizens – My Tribe. 


    Thanks Jane for your contributions to our FIGT community! Read more next week from another PPWR contributor. 

  • 28 Apr 2017 4:07 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    The Parfitt Pascoe Writing Residency (PPWR) is a partial scholarship for the FIGT Annual Conference that encourages development of writing and blogging skills. Recipients received: free tuition for eight online learning sessions with Jo Parfitt on how to write articles for a global market and get them published; mentorship; editing support; cross-publications; ebook. 

    2017 PPWR recipients: Jane Barron, Tone Delin Indrelid, Mariam Ottimofiore, and Sarah Stoner. Congratulations!

    Starting today we will showcase the winners' writing and reflections on this year's conference. Next week we will be adding a writing contribution from another PPWR 2017 recipient! 

    We start off with Mariam Ottimofiore. 

    Does Growing Up in an Expat Majority Country Change the TCK Experience? By Mariam Ottimofiore

    I recently attended the Families in Global Transition (FIGT) conference in The Hague, in the Netherlands, where I listened to Dr. Anne Copeland from The Interchange Institute share her fascinating research on Third Culture Kids (TCKs). The title of her talk immediately caught my attention: Do TCKs Have Unique Skills? The Childhood Experience of Being Different and Its Impact on Expatriate Living

    According to Dr. Anne, the experience of “being different” came along with skills such as having an “expanded worldview”, “good observational skills” and the ability to see “two sides of a situation”. All of them are skills which serve well when TCKs transition into adulthood. I thought back to my own TCK experience of growing up with my Pakistani parents in Bahrain and the United States and couldn’t help but agree that it had prepared me for my subsequent moves as an adult. 

    But her talk immediately made me ponder an important aspect of my current expat life in the Middle East:

    How does growing up as a TCK in an expat majority country change the TCK experience? How does raising two TCKs in a country where they are in the majority affect their TCK experience?

    Whereas my childhood experience of growing up as a TCK made me feel different, my children’s experience of growing up in Dubai does not make them feel any different. In fact, they feel just as ‘normal’ as the next person. The reason is because we are currently living in a rather unique country; a country where expats make up the majority of the population. In the United Arab Emirates, the local Emiratis make up only a small 11% of the population, whereas the expats make up majority of the 89-90% of the population. 

    My TCKs are growing up in Dubai surrounded by other TCKs. They are growing up thinking it’s normal that everyone is like them, with multiple nationalities, speaking two or more languages, and with multiple homes around the world. It is the norm to ‘go home’ for their summer break, which means a different country. It is the norm for them to celebrate ‘international day’ at school, because every kid comes from a different country. It is the norm for them to grow up in a multicultural, multilingual melting pot of identities and accents. Living in an expat majority country is normalizing the TCK experience for my kids, which means that when they do return to their passport country (Germany), they will struggle to adapt to a monocultural society.

    So, if they don’t feel any different, do they still develop the skills Dr. Anne mentioned in her talk? Do they still build resilience, become adaptable and foster empathy for others? What are the similarities and differences between them and the traditional TCKs who grow up in a country where they are in a minority? 

    Just one of the questions FIGT has left me pondering this month. 


    Thanks Mariam for your insights and contributions to the FIGT community! 

  • 21 Apr 2017 2:25 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Amy Clare Tasker attended the 2017 FIGT Annual Conference and details her experience running a FIGT workshop in her blog, “Home is Where the Radishes Grow”. 

    "Home is where..." was the question used during the workshop as a starting-off point for brainstorming in the group - what means “home” for someone.  There was many great suggestions but one that stood out was, “where i grow my radishes”.  Home, for some people, is where you grow and eat your own radishes from your own garden. 

    The workshop then challenged participants to take the question “Home is where...” and turn it into a frozen picture tapping into the drama element. A cornerstone behind the workshop - tying in drama games and storytelling into cross-cultural experiences. Certainly depicting, "Home is where I grow my radishes", was a fun and creative story to enact!

    It also challenged participants to think through drama and its relation to cross-cultural experiences. What are ways you can tie in drama games and storytelling into your work with students and clients? How can storytelling be a bridge for cross-cultural experiences? 

    And lastly, what means home to you?

    Read more in Amy's blog and re-live this fun workshop experience!


    Amy Clare Tasker Bio:

    I am a British-born, California-grown director and theatre maker. From 2008 – 2013, I made work in San Francisco, California. I now live and make theatre in London, England. I am a Third Culture Kid: a hybrid of cultures, a holder of two passports, and a mangler of regional accents.

    My work demonstrates a commitment to new forms and new voices; a fascination with ancient, epic stories; and a profound joy in collaborative experimentation with other creative minds in theatre and across artistic disciplines.

    Read more about Amy.

    Thanks Amy for your contributions to the community! 

  • 11 Apr 2017 12:56 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Today we highlight a three - series post by Sarah Black from her blog "Brown Eyed Gal Abroad," which covers her reflections and insights at the FIGT conference. Enjoy our re-cap below and make sure to check out Sarah's posts!


    Day 1 at the conference included sessions and events that was built strongly around community and connection. People who hadn’t seen each other in a while had the opportunity to re-connect as well as to meet new attendees! The theme of the day seemed based on finding common ground. Not only did speakers and presentations touch on finding your tribe but more specifically, finding your right tribe. It may sound like a self-help tip, but ultimately, finding your tribe requires one to know thyself first and foremost. So a lot of food for thought and internal reflection got sparked on Day 1. 

    Day 2 provided practical applications on how to build community such as bloggers sharing their experience building online tribes. Presentations also highlighted the value and treasures that expatriates offer the world. Ultimately confirming, that we are all stronger when we stand together. 

    Day 3 was all about storytelling in which many members of the community shared their stories. Sebastien Bellin was an emotional highlight who touched on letting go of fear and embracing the moment. And, to focus on quality of life instead of quantity.Very inspirational! 

    Sarah, as with many of the FIGT attendees, is now focused on how to find your tribe, build your tribe, and connect with your tribe.  


    Sarah Black Bio: 

    At the age of 40, I left the only city I’d ever lived in, a job that I loved, a recently renovated home and my friends and family to go on an adventure. It’s been six years, two countries and a couple of rescue dogs since then and the adventure continues….

    I’m Sarah, a former PR director, now blogger/freelance writer and communications consultant. Originally from Northern Ireland, I currently live in Texas with Himself (the husband) and our two rescue dogs, Freya and Ceili.  This blog is an attempt to chronicle our experiences as expats and travellers and to remind us that even on a very ordinary day, doing mundane things, this is still an amazing adventure.

    And yes, I really do have brown eyes….


    Thanks for your contributions to the community Sarah! 

  • 07 Apr 2017 3:41 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)
    We finally have recovered from the FIGT Annual Conference and hope everyone got home - safe and sound! What a blast!

    Thank you to all our sponsors, FIGT Staff and volunteers, and FIGT members. The Annual Conference would not be possible without all the hard work and contributions from each and every one of you. 

    Starting next week stay tuned for member re-caps and reflections on the conference!

  • 25 Mar 2017 12:34 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    The FIGT Conference kicks off its final day in Den Hague. What a whirlwind! Here is how we spent the final day. 

    FIGT Day 3 - Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Early Bird SPAN Forum: 

    Keynote Session: Sebastien Bellin - I should fear but I don't. Why do you? 


    Concurrent Session III: Raising Global and Mobile Children: Challenges and Solutions for International Families using the MERCI model -  Kristin Duncombe   


    Concurrent Session IV: Third Culture Families (TCFs): Redefining the traditional concept of home, family and friendship - Marielle de Spa

    Panel Discussion - Finding Your Niche: Connecting a Multicultural Past to a Meaningful Present

    Closing Ceremony:

    That's a wrap folks! Many thanks to all who made the conference possible. Safe travels home. 

    We look forward to reconnecting after the conference and sharing more great stories, pictures, and ideas in the weeks and months to come. 

    See you next year!

    (Pictures collected from participants and contributors to FIGTNL17 Twitter) 

  • 25 Mar 2017 12:08 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    The second day of the FIGT Conference featured a keynote session, fast-paced Ignite sessions, and twice the fun! Catch up on today’s events and make sure to follow twitter and the blog to learn more about the third and final day. 

    Early Bird Writers Forum:  During our Early Bird Writers Forum, you will have the opportunity to attend one of four different sessions led by accomplished and talented authors and online experts.

    Keynote Session: Do TCKs Have Unique Skills? The Childhood Experience of Being Different and Its Impact on Expatriate Living - Anne Copeland 

    Ignite Sessions:

    Raffle Draw - Some of the prizes! 

    Concurrent Sessions  - Globally Mobile Children - One Tribe or Many - Ann Baker Cottrell 

    Kitchen Table Conversations - Who I am Inside; An In-Depth Look at the TCK Identity - Kenady Chisholm 

    More Sessions:

    More Networking: 

    Thanks to everyone who made day 2 invigorating, informative, and inspirational! Make sure to follow the action on Twitter: #FIGTNL17 or on the blog for day 3.

    (Pictures collected from participants and contributors to #FIGTNL17)

  • 24 Mar 2017 1:31 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    The 2017 Families in Global Transition (FIGT) Annual Conference has started in Den Hague, kicking off with day 1! Couldn’t make it? Here’s a recap of the first of three days filled with connection, community, and inspiration. We will post a recap on day 2 as well. You can also stay connected by following the conference hashtag on Twitter: #FIGT17NL

    Day 1 featured: 

    Early Bird Forums: Empty Nest and Parenting Adult Kids - Tough Love, Tough Choices: How to Cope with an Empty Nest 

    Keynote Presentation: Naomi Hathaway Me Too! Lighting the Triangle Beacon – Why Finding Your Tribe Matters

    Concurrent session: You Couldn't Make It Up: The Latest Findings on Decades of ATCKs - Lesley Lewis


    Panel Discussion: Find Your Language on the Move - Ruth Van Reken, Ute Limacher-Riebold, and Rita Rosenback 

    Kitchen Table Conversations - Expanding our Tribe with Dr. Cate Brubaker

    Author Signing at the Bookstore 

    Social Networking Event 


    And lots of Networking!!!

    Overall, it was a historic first day with FIGT. 

    Want to stay connected? Follow along on Twitter: #FIGT17NL or stay tuned for Day 2 on the blog!

    (Pictures collected from #FIGT hashtag contributors and participants).

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