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 the entire expatriate family. Contributions are welcome from current members, please use our online submittal form below.

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  • 26 Nov 2017 6:15 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    As we head into the holiday season and look forward to 2018, thoughts here at FIGT are firmly fixed on putting on an unforgettable FIGT conference in March. It’s the 20th anniversary of FIGT, and we look forward to exploring the topic “Diverse voices celebrating the past, present, and future of globally mobile lives”

    The conference brings together a group of budding writers who will be mentored by Jo Parfitt on how to write articles for a global market that get published. In return for this extensive training, mentoring, and a full scholarship, the residents will be chronicling about the conference. They’ll be interviewing, blogging, writing articles, and posting about the conference on social media.

    I’ve had a chat with Lillian Small, FIGT’s Social Media Lead who is one of the PPWR residents. Here we learn more about Lillian, how she had a career transition to blogger, writer and digital marketing expert, her expat experience that led her to supporting FIGT’s communication team and what she’s looking forward to about the conference.

    FIGT Blog Editor: What influenced your decision to pivot to a writing career from being an engineer?

    Lillian: “When considering careers before university, I initially explored the idea of psychology but opted in favour of engineering – the certainty of the qualification and overseas career opportunities appealed. After 5 years’ working as an engineer, my husband secured a role that moved us to Paris. This posting was intended to be 12-18 months, during which I decided to explore my free time and started my blog. As a child, I’d always enjoyed journaling, and the short Paris stint was an ideal time to return to this. 18 months turned into 3.5 years, where I became fluent in French and worked with a friend in a design agency. I liked the idea of a career that could be location agnostic, and I pursued more of my creative side. During our most recent move to Aberdeen, I’ve earnt a Masters in Digital Marketing and am looking forward to establishing a business. I do miss certain aspects of being an engineer, I was a go-to person and was lucky to have varied roles, but it’s not a deep personal passion of mine.”

    FIGT Blog Editor: How do you think your expat background has helped to shape your career?

    Lillian: “As an expat, you learn to be adaptable and grab opportunities when they come your way. Taking risks and diving in at the deep end isn’t as daunting, as you’re living with uncertainty much of the time. So, you end up becoming resourceful and proactive at putting yourself out there and discovering new parts of your personality. When the chance arose to work for a friend in an unrelated industry, I took it, and it has evolved into my new career path”

    FIGT Blog Editor: What led you to FIGT and the PPWR Residency?

    Lillian: “I’ve known about FIGT through personal contact with previous board members, and previous speaker Naomi Hattaway. I’m interested in becoming more involved in the expat community and return to writing after completing my Masters. I also felt that PPWR with provide me with a real sense of purpose when attending the conference. It will be intense and lots of work – I’m definitely throwing myself into the deep end again!”

    FIGT Blog Editor: What excites you most about PPWR and the conference?

    Lillian: “I’m really excited about being able to really digest the content, and learn from such knowledgeable and wise speakers. It will also give me the chance to meet so many people I’ve chatted with virtually over the years – and put faces to names. It will be hard work, but I’m excited that it will give me a renewed focus”

    Do say hi to Lillian when you see her at the conference. If you’d like to learn more about her, visit her blog, The Smalls Abroad.

    Stay tuned to upcoming blogs where we’ll be introducing more of the PPWR residents and conference speakers.

    #markyourcalendars #FIGT18NL #FIGT20years

  • 29 Oct 2017 1:53 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    The Annual FIGT Conference is edging nearer, and lots of plans are in progress behind the scenes! Make sure you keep checking in to be the first to know the exciting news as we share it.

    We’re excited to announce our first Keynote Speaker for the event - Robin Pascoe. Robin is a long-time friend of FIGT, and is one half of the Parfitt Pascoe Writing Residency program.

    Robin is known as ‘The Expat Expert’ and has written no less than 7 books on living abroad, ranging from relocating your marriage, parenting global nomads, and guides to help expat wives successfully navigate their time overseas. Robin is currently the Director of Global Communications for the Maple Bear School, a global network of Canadian curriculum schools based in Vancouver, Canada.

    Robin Pascoe was among the first wave of expat writers to create and promote the language we use to understand the strengths and challenges of the globally mobile family. And for over twenty years, she traveled around the expat world reassuring families by introducing that language and articulating shared experiences. In her keynote address, she will re-examine the meaning of the words “families” in “global” “transition” in the context of diversity and relocation in the 21stcentury. And, using her trademark humour, she will share her stories of the past 20 years and her vision for the next.

    As an international speaker, Robin’s expertise takes her all over the world. She is known as being funny, engaging and inspirational. Robin’s global living experience was earned as a Canadian diplomatic spouse and parent to two Third Culture Kids on postings in Bangkok, Taipei, Beijing and Seoul.

    Robin’s topics all relate to global living, and are invaluable insights into repatriating as a spouse, dealing with culture shock, and practical ways for wives and parents to deal with the challenges of adapting to a nomadic life.

    Known as an authority about expat life, Robin has been widely interviewed and featured in major publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribue, Working Mothers Magazine, Utne Reader, CNN, to name a few.

    We’re so excited to welcome Robin as part of the FIGT Conference experience!

    Learn more about Robin on these links:

    Robin’s website, The Expat Expert.

    Homeward Bound: A Spouse's Guide to Repatriation

    A Moveable Marriage: Relocate Your Relationship without Breaking It

    Raising Global Nomads: Parenting Abroad in an On-Demand World

    Culture Shock! Successful Living Abroad: A Wife's Guide

    A Broad Abroad: The Expat Wife's Guide to Successful Living Abroad

    Parent's Guide (Culture Shock! Practical Guides)

    Living and Working Abroad: A Wife's Guide


  • 10 Oct 2017 8:38 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    A recent Financial Times article "Women still hesitate to accept foreign assignments: Travelling spouses are rarely men" states that "Women’s earnings and potential salaries are so rarely equal to men’s that we still see the “travelling” male partner as unusual". This was certainly Carolina Dantas' experience. 

    Carolina writes the following story as our guest, about her experience in pursuing a career opportunity that offered the opportunity to live abroad, where husband was the 'trailing spouse':

    When I announced to my colleagues that I accepted an offer in the company for a long-term assignment overseas, the first question everybody asked me was “what about your husband? Is he quitting his job?” With my clear “yes, he is coming with me”, the following reaction was “oh… he must love you so much”.

    I have no doubt about my husband’s feelings, but my colleagues’ reaction still intrigues me. People knew I was ambitious, I was working very hard to progress in my career and I was doing well. With the exposure I was having to global leaders, an opportunity abroad should be the natural next step. So why was my husband the first thing to come to people's mind?

    Frankly, he was my first concern also. By the time I got the offer, he was earning about 30% more than I was. His career was progressing well too. People did not know, but I had declined other offers previously because the place would not offer much to him personally or professionally. However, this time we were talking about London! Still he would be pausing his career dreams to follow mine. He would become the dependent spouse in a foreign place. He would not get a visa on his own. His work permit would depend on the company I worked for.

    I did not want to carry the lift of compromising his career either. I did not want to hear the classic “I gave up on everything for you” in any moment of stress that every relationship goes through. So I called my dad. In a sexist society like the Brazilian one, he would give the male perspective I could miss and still be on my side. Here is his precious advice: “it’s his decision, not yours”. For a feminist like me, it hit me first, but he continued: “You have no decision to make. The company is offering you a promotion, a great raise, a complete expat program in an excellent location. It is everything you obviously want. Therefore, you have no decision to make. He is the one to decide if he wants this new life”.
    Sheryl Sandberg said that the best career decision you make is about the person you marry. This was so true in that moment. To be a senior executive with a global career, I needed a husband that shared my lifestyle and dreams. And he did. Gladly. Living abroad was his dream too and there was no other better opportunity to go.

    We set a time and a plan for this break in his career. He got an international certification, did some consultant work, played a lot of tennis and made more friends than I did. It was not easy for him in many occasions, but we both took the most of this great opportunity. In the end, we decided to have a baby and to have him back in Brazil, closer to our families. It took him 8 months to get a new job, but he got a great one - even though Brazil was in the middle of a terrible recession.

    Now I am the person in home full-time. During the uncertainties of not being a working-partner and not having my career identity, my husband said to me “my career is our problem as much as your career is our problem too”. I believe this is the real meaning of dual career.

    Carolina is an international executive, former global director in Nielsen, mother of 2 kids and was the first female Brazilian to take an international assignment. 

  • 28 Sep 2017 2:41 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    The PPWR 2018 Residency deadline is looming! Here, FIGT Member Tone Indrelid writes about the impact last year's participation had to her.

    If you are keen to apply, visit the PPWR page for more information and be sure to submit your application before October 1st, 2017.

    Read Tone's story:

    Follow me, walk through that open door.

    Five years ago, I lived on Borneo, with three kids under 6. I was The Parent of my household. I can’t really say how it happened – I certainly never intended to be The Parent. If you were to ask The Wage-earning Partner in my marriage, I suspect you may hear a distant cough sounding like ‘control freak’, but I object to that.

    I wasn’t always happy being The Parent. Don’t get me wrong – I love being a mother and I am super thankful for the time I am able to spend with my kids. That said, I have also struggled to adjust to role expectations, my own and those of others, within my marriage and in relation to the world.

    I wanted a way to combine The Parent with The Ridiculously Slow Internet, The Frequent Moves and The Writing Anthropologist.

    Moving to Muscat, The Ridiculously Slow Internet was finally replaced with Broadband Internet, and family role patterns and responsibilities were adjusted to allow for The Parent to work from home.

    One fine Tuesday morning, I saw it. Jo Parfitt’s Facebook link to the Parfitt Pascoe Writing Residency at Families in Global Transition. I read it. I loved it. I was convinced it was made especially for me. Did I want to train with a successful author and publisher, learn the tricks of the trade and contribute to a book? Yes!

    I knew I was nowhere near ready to apply for the scholarship – but I did anyway. I never looked back. Sometimes, doors open, in the most unexpected ways.

    Jo’s input as a mentor, my position as a Parfitt Pascoe writer and the connections I made through Families in Global Transition has led to some incredibly positive developments for me. First of all, I connected with all of you through this blog. I love writing here, and I hope to spend much more time here in the coming months. This is my other trail, and I am delighted to walk in your company. In addition, I have been offered a blogging post with The Turban Times, focusing on the MENA region, as well as with the refugee relief organisation Carry The Future.

    Are you a budding writer? Would you like to train with Jo, make invaluable connections with other writers and kick-start your own path? Do consider applying for the Parfitt Pascoe Writing Residency at Families in Global Transition. It may be one of the best choices you ever make for yourself.

    Go ahead, look it up!

    About the author:

    Tone is an introverted anthropologist walking the expat trail. You can find her on her blog, The Other Trail.

  • 21 Aug 2017 11:01 AM | Anonymous

    One of the interesting things about diversity is the diverse interpretations of the word.

    Different cultures give different meanings. As an expat, I was always attracted to cultural diversity; meeting people from all over the world means diversity in languages, religions, manners, rules, and more.

    It is like an extreme version of the Japanese movie Rashomon; the film is known for a plot device that involves various characters providing subjective, alternative, self-serving and contradictory versions of the same incident.    

    Or in our international reality, a room full of people who live the same moment and see it completely differently. The outcome is richness; it can be messy and full of misunderstandings, but never boring.

    Over the years, diversity was acknowledged and in many cases pushed in various industries.

    Global mobility was very much influenced by that. But interesting enough, in order to communicate our diverse background and knowledge, we need a common ground, a common language. In the expat world, it is English.

    I remember one of my first professional meetings: I was invited to participate in an international group of what looked to me like VIPs, big executives in their formal suits.

    I was paralyzed, couldn't say a word.

    Silently I was reacting to all I saw and heard, I had a lot to say, but didn't dare to speak up.

    When I finally did, I was lucky to be included and welcomed. People were curious about my accent, my somehow different perspective, and my story.

    The expat community is rich and diverse, but in many ways, we are lucky to hear and know the ones who dare to cross the barriers of language and culture -- they are hard ones to cross.

    You have to be willing to take a risk, constantly feel embarrassed, frustrated, tired, but at the same time when you cross the barrier there is a new world there: Stories that were out of reach in your language, people that are very different and inspiring, and occasionally you'll find people that will be inspired by you and your different story.

    I am writing this as a personal invitation to any expat who is hesitant to try and cross that barrier; please join us at the 2018 FIGT Conference in the Netherlands. 

    FIGT is a magical forum that encourages and embraces diversity of all kinds.  

    I can tell you in the words of our talented, funny FIGT17NL Master of Ceremonies, Rachel Yates, at this conference, being monolingual is almost the exception.

    So let’s celebrate our diversity by being there and connecting.

    Dare to express yourself!

    We know how it feels.

    Contributed by Daniela Tomer, #FIGT18NL Program Chair. Read more about Daniela here.

  • 23 Jun 2017 1:07 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Tanya Crossman in her blog post "Initial reflections on FIGT 2017," shares insights about her first time experience at the FIGT Annual Conference in 2017. 

    It is neat to see in Tanya's post that even though members are excited to meet their online connections and "big names," that through our own journey of discovery on this TCK path, that others are excited to meet us as well! Tanya experienced this first hand at the conference. 

    "I was stunned to discover that some of the very authors I consider giants in my field (such as Ruth van Reken and Linda Janssen) were actively looking to meet me! One of several surreal moments was being asked to sign a copy of Misunderstood for Valerie Besanceney – an author I greatly respect and whose books I regularly recommend. There were also people at the conference I met for the first time and who turned out to have already bought and read my book, or had been hearing about it and bought a copy while at the conference. It was quite astonishing to me!"

    Read Tanya's post.

    About the Author

     Tanya Crossman grew up in Sydney and Canberra, Australia, and lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA for two years of high school. She had TCK friends as a child, before her own experience of life overseas, and long before hearing the phrase ‘Third Culture Kid’.

    She received a degree in Asian Studies from the Australian National University, and a diploma in Mandarin from Beijing Language and Culture University. She worked several bilingual jobs in China, including interning at a publishing company and Office/HR Manager for a small textile trading company.

    After years of volunteering her time to mentor TCKs, Tanya left her job to work with TCKs full time. She coordinated over 35 camps and conferences for teenage TCKs in China and Cambodia, and was invited to speak to groups in China, Thailand, Cambodia, and Singapore.

    After 11 years in Asia, Tanya is currently studying in Sydney. She is still passionate about advocating for TCKs, even in her passport country. She plans to return overseas in time to continue working with, and on behalf of, TCKs.


    Thanks Tanya for your contributions to the FIGT community. 

  • 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! 

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