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 contact admin@figt.org for more details.
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  • 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).

  • 21 Mar 2017 1:58 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    When you grow up in different places around the world, unfortunately, one is not sheltered from violent situations and terrorist events near and far. They tend to prick our hearts deeply because of knowing so many different people, countries, and places that we call home. These situations feel so much closer to “home” even though they could be miles away. 

    We know many of us have similar stories. Waking up and hearing about the World Trade Center towers falling and being worried for family and friends in the area. Learning about a colleague's loss in the Kenya Mall shooting - a place where many of us have been and colleagues visit all the time. Or finding out about a friend who walked through the Brussels airport but stopped at the restroom and checked his email 5 minutes before the Brussels bomb went off, and so missed it. The very same bomb that exploded near Sebastien Bellin, our Saturday Keynote Speaker at the Families in Global Transition (FIGT) Annual Conference 2017. In an instant though, Sebastien’s story changed to survival.  

    Sebastien is an ATCK whose life followed various paths including being a professional basketball player, entrepreneur, and father. Just like so many of us who frequently visit airports, this was another trip. He didn’t expect to be lying injured on the floor wondering what happened or what would come next. But what does come next and how do you move forward from such an incident? 

    Sebastien has recovered as best one can and now gives talks that can help the rest of us learn from his lessons and insight. Instead of feeling suffocated with hate and fear, Sebastien has a message of love, forgiveness, and empathy. Specifically, Sebastien helps us to understand how we can “face our fears, reach down deep inside, and unleash profound change and personal power” (Wolfman Productions Website, 2017). Lots to take in, we know - but an important message to hear nonetheless. 

    Make sure to join Sebastien’s moving keynote on Saturday, March 25th. To help you better prepare for the conference, you will find 1) information regarding Sebastien’s Keynote on Saturday, 2) more about Sebastien, 3) and a chance to preview his story. 

    1. SATURDAY KEYNOTE PRESENTATION - March 25th, 2017 at 10:00 AM

    "I should fear, but I don't. Why do you?" - Sebastien Bellin

    The FIGT Program Committee is excited to share Sebastien Bellin's remarkable story of recovery and his refusal to let the Brussels terrorists win. On March 22nd 2016, Sebastien was standing 20 meters away from a bomb which exploded in Brussels Zaventem airport. Since the event, Sebastien has developed a uniquely qualified perspective about the times in which we live, and the things that kept him going while badly injured and fighting for his life. His remarkable journey is inspiring, in times when an event like this can bring fear and hate to the world, he will be with us to share just the opposite, bringing hope to the cross culture world we are living in.


    Sebastien is a Brazilian-born ATCK. He had lived in 5 countries before he graduated from the International School of Brussels. He is a multi-linguist. He received a scholarship to play NCAA Division One college basketball in the U.S. at Marist College in NY and later Oakland University in Michigan. He studied international business. Sebastien is the father of two TCKs, married to Sarah, a teacher with 12 years of experience in international education.

    Bellin has had a 15-year professional basketball career in Italy and Belgium. He's one of the "original gang" who created Keemotion (May 2012), an automated sports video production system that is currently installed in 12 countries. Keemotion was recently sold to a group of NY investors which is why Sebastien travels extensively between NYC and Brussels. He is heavily involved in the start-up consulting world.


    Information about Sebastien and other change makers. 

    Website: http://wolfmanproductions.com/sebastien-bellin/

    Listen to his Ted Talk

    Thank you, Sebastien, for all your contributions to the community and sharing your powerful story. We look forward to meeting you and hearing your presentation this week!


  • 19 Mar 2017 11:56 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    The 2017 #FIGT17NL Annual Conference is quickly approaching! Whether you are looking for new connections, reconnecting with old friends, or looking for new resources, we have one tip that will help amplify your experience: Twitter.

    Here are nine easy ways to incorporate tweeting into your conference experience (btw, make sure you’re registered for #FIGT17NL). 


    1. Follow the FIGT Twitter account 

    Make sure to follow our FIGT Twitter account (@crossingculture) to stay on top of conference news and to share comments directly with the FIGT community.

    2. Identify the conference hashtags you can use

    It’s never too early to start the conversation so begin following the conference hashtags now. We have: #FIGT17NL 

    3. Find the speakers you are most passionate about…

    Find out speakers and attendees easier with FIGT’s Twitter list. And you guessed it, follow them on Twitter!

    4. Start tweeting before the conference

    What sessions are you excited for? Tell the world! 

    A sample tweet could be…”I’m looking forward to the Me Too! Lighting the Triangle Beacon – Why Finding Your Tribe Matters keynote with @Naomi_Hattaway at #FIGT17NL”.

    5. Plan ahead on how often you want to tweet

    Planning ahead will help you not feel overwhelmed during the conference. If you are going to a panel, for example, you could tweet one point each panelist makes, and have their Twitter handle on hand so you can include them in your tweet.

    6. Always put the conference hashtag in your tweets


    7. Share your experiences through Twitter

    You can generate conversations and inspire others through your participation.

    8. Thank each speaker and organization you interact with

    Conferences are the best place to network with like-minded leaders in the fields you care most about. 

    9. Continue communication after the conference

    You want to keep your connections engaged with you (especially if you are or will be job searching)!


    Are you as excited for #FIGT17NL as we are? Tell us on TWITTER (@crossingculture).

  • 16 Mar 2017 11:23 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    The 2017 FIGT Conference - Building on the Basics: Creating Your Tribe on the Move is a week away! Have you started your mental packing list already? Are you ready? 

    Get inspired with Part Two: The People who Make Up our Tribe or Why I go to the Families in Global Transition Conference of our series from three new and existing FIGT members as they share, “Why I go to the FIGT Conference” and “2-3 Tips/Suggestions on what to do while at the FIGT conference”.


    Name: Claudia Landini

    Conferences Attended: 2016 - Amsterdam

    1. Why I am going to the FIGT conference?

    I have been living abroad for almost 28 years, and transitioning has become a constant in my life. However, it is not so easy to talk about the feelings involved in this kind of mobile existence, both because they are complex, fascinating, deep and difficult to convey to those who have not gone through the same experiences, and because they keep on changing while mobility increases. 

    FIGT is a privileged space where we can talk about the deepest feelings linked to mobile life because we know that we’ll be understood. It is a stimulating space where we get together to develop ideas and practices to make mobile life more and more meaningful and rich. 

    For three days, we belong to a space where fresh and exciting approaches to mobile life are presented, discussed, analysed and integrated. It is also a place where everybody can feel in tune with the rest of the crowd. We are all linked by the common enthusiasm for a life in contact with diverse cultures, and by the intoxicating feeling of being part of the world in its truest sense. And if these reasons were not enough for me to attend the FIGT conference, I can certainly add that last year I came away with loads of interesting contacts and touched by the magic of a unique human experience. 

    2. 2-3 Tips or suggestions on what to do at the conference? 

    a. Study the program well and decide beforehand what sessions to attend

    b. Participate in as many activities, sessions and presentations as possible, and try to do something even after the conference. Bonding with other participants is easier at a restaurant, when there is no rush to go and take a place for the next session.

    c. Do not be shy or scared, and talk to people, because everyone is at the conference to enjoy such a privileged moment of sharing. They will be happy to know you and tell you about themselves, and you might discover and learn things you were not anticipating at all


    Name: Dana Nelson

    Conferences Attended: First conference this March! 

    1. Why I am going to the FIGT conference?

    In terms of why I'm coming to the conference, I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet other people living abroad and working with the international community. 

    As a therapist who works with those living abroad, it's not always easy to build a network or meet others doing this type of work -- so I hope to make connections with other professionals and also just learn from everyone else's experiences so I can use this knowledge to better help my clients. 

    I had also just heard great things about the conference from several different people, so I thought it would be a fun experience! 

    2. What I'm planning to do at the conference for my first time?  I guess my tip (or my goal for myself!) is just to try to talk to as many people as possible. There are actually a number of people whose work I've been following from afar or whom I've "met" only remotely and who I know will be at the conference, so I've been trying to make plans to meet some of them in person while we're there. Otherwise, I'm just going in with an open mind and not exactly sure what to expect. 


    Name: Linda Janssen

    Conferences Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

    1. Why I go to the FIGT Conference?

    I attended my first FIGT conference as an Ignite Speaker in 2013, and I’ve attended and served as a volunteer (including two years as a recent Board Member) ever since. I wouldn’t miss the FIGT conference because of the camaraderie, connections and to stay current on developments in cross-cultural life. While I’m currently repatriated − at least for now − a good share of my career remains globally-focused as an intercultural communications trainer and resilience coach helping international businesses, employees and expats. Like many, I’m also parenting from afar as my son is now teaching English on the other side of the world.

    2. 2-3 Tips or suggestions on what to do at the conference?

    a. I can’t emphasize enough how welcoming FIGT conferences are. The particular details may differ from one person to the next, but we are all bound by the shared experience of what it means to live, work, study, nurture our families, or simply find our way in different countries and cultures. Suddenly everyone understands the challenges, opportunities, decisions and trade-offs we all make in living a globally mobile, cross-cultural life. Its like a huge family reunion: we have found our tribe, we are accepted, and we belong. 

    b. From there it just keeps getting better, as we gain information, learn new approaches, and are stretched by the insights offered by the speakers, panels, and forums. And the best part? To me, it’s the one-to-one connections made through sharing quiet conversations, group discussions, activities, meals. You may arrive not knowing anyone, but I guarantee you, that won’t last long, and you will leave energized and appreciative of all the wonderful people you’ve come to know. 


    As you can see, there are many different reasons on why we go to the FIGT Annual conference but first and foremost, it is to connect with one another! Thanks to Claudia, Dana, and Linda and the rest of our contributors for sharing your stories and preparing us for the conference. We look forward to meeting you or reconnecting with you again next week! 

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