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.

  • 03 Nov 2016 4:30 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    The Research Forum was led by Families in Global Transition Research Network Director Sarah Gonzales and Co-Founder Ann Baker-Cottrell

    Article by Meghali Pandey

    The Research Forum was led by the Families in Global Transition (FIGT) Research Network. The FIGT Research Network is an interdisciplinary community of international professionals seeking to advance the knowledge base and understanding of individuals and families living across cultures and in global transition.

    This Early Bird Forum focused on showcasing some of the latest work being carried out in the aforementioned areas by researchers around the world, and the broader activities of the research network. Some of the things made possible through this network include:

    • Building relationships among/ between researchers, those that they study, as well as the consumers of their research.
    • Encouraging and assisting researchers by facilitating the sharing of solutions to methodological challenges.
    • Increasing awareness around emerging research.
    • Supporting and guiding research using best practices.
    • Promoting multidisciplinary research and literature.

    Torben Anderson

    Torben Anderson is a professor in the Department of Leadership and Corporate Strategy at the University of Southern Denmark, and a visiting professor at San Francisco State University and the University of Auckland. His research has mainly concentrated on the structural and strategic aspects of international human resource management.

    Torben explained how his research chiefly addresses the empirical field of engineers, which is 70-80% male in its makeup. Exploring the question of ‘How do modern families make decisions about expatriation?’, Torben has found widely diverging results within the Danish expat population alone. There are marked differences between families who live in expat bubbles or westernized ‘ghettos’ versus those who ‘go native’, engaging more fully with the host culture. There are also differences between male and female roles when expatriating as the accompanying spouse.

    Alix Carnot

    Alix Carnot is the head of International Careers Development at Expat Communication, and the author of Chéri(e), On s'Expatrie: Guide de Survie à l'Usage des Couples Aventuriers. Having moved eight times in 15 years with her husband and four sons, she has developed considerable expertise on expatriate couples’ issues and dual international careers.

    Through her research, Alix discovered that although 80% of French women wanted to continue working even after following their husbands for an international assignment, only 50% of this sample group actually achieved it. Most of these women indicated they wanted to work for fulfilment, and not merely money, often worrying about finding a job upon repatriation. In fact, many discovered they had regressed because of their expatriate experience.

    Anna Maria Moore

    Anna Maria Moore is a half-American, half-Swedish Adult Third Culture Kid (ATCK) who lived on five continents before the age of 18. Her research began in 2010, and focuses on the specific sample group of lovepats – those who move to, or live in their partner’s country. The main question she posited as part of the FIGT Research Forum was ‘Is it something about living in your partner’s country that makes it more challenging?’

    Anna chiefly wants to research whether being an expatriate affects romantic and marital relationships. To date, she has surveyed people from 90 countries living in 74 countries, finding that 66% of those surveyed said it was “a sacrifice” to have had to move for their partner.

    Rachel Cason

    Rachel Cason is a missionary ATCK who grew up in West Africa, and now lives in England. Her doctoral research led her to launch Life Story, a therapeutic service that applies her research findings in a form suited to those with highly mobile childhoods.

    During her research, Rachel focused mainly on how Third Culture Kids (TCK) relate to other migration groups, surveying 61 TCKs from different organizational backgrounds. According to her, TCKs often represent an “imaginary diaspora,” which has led her to explore the concept of where exactly the “imagined homeland” of TCKs may be found.

    Rachel has discovered the rates for TCKs returning abroad from their ‘home’ countries fall between 50-90%, with strong links to cosmopolitanism, and consequently, feelings of rootlessness. There is also a degree of vagrancy in confusing and confounding more settled populations since TCKs who choose to return abroad make a choice of perpetual mobility. Finally, she indicates how her findings raise further pertinent questions regarding gender in the expat community, as well as the virtual communities that arise through highly mobile lifestyles.

    The forum ended with researchers discussing different psychological patterns and behaviors that affect expatriate lifestyles. These include the cognitive curve, the behavioral curve, and the affectionate curve. Places like the Expat Archive Centre at The Hague, and expat blogs online were also recommended as valuable venues to conduct research and meet like-minded individuals.

    Ann Baker Cottrell, the founder of the TCK Research Network, and one of the leading researchers on Third Culture Kids, ended the forum by highlighting further areas of research and the interesting questions they raised for the whole host of organizations and individuals attending FIGT. Often, she underlines, going back to one’s ‘home’ country is what raises issues for Third Culture Kids, whereas there is no reason to believe the host country has always been perfect and without flaws. What, then, does this tell us about the psychological patterns, cultural affiliations, and attachment behaviors of TCKs?



    Expat Communication www.expatcommunication.com

    Journal of Cross-Cultural Family Studies www.ojs.acu.edu/ojs/index.php/jccfs/announcement/view/2

    Worldwide Families www.worldwidefamilies.org

    Worldwide Writings www.worldwidewritings.com

    Life Story: Moving Towards a Settled Self www.explorelifestory.com 

    Roaming the World www.roamingtheworld.com

    International Therapist Directory www.internationaltherapistdirectory.com    

    Expat Archive Centre www.xpatarchive.com


    I Love You, But I Want to Leave, Anna Maria Moore, www.denizenmag.com/2011/05/i-love-you-but-i-want-to-leave/


    Chéri(e), On s'Expatrie! Guide de Survie à l'Usage des Couples Aventuriers, Alix Carnot, Groupe Eyrolles, 2016

    Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere: Insights into Counselling the Globally Mobile,  Lois J. Bushong, Mango Tree Intercultural Services, 2013

    Writing Out of Limbo: International Childhoods, Global Nomads and Third Culture Kids, Edited by Gene H. Bell-Villada and Nina Sichel with Faith Eidse and Elaine Neil Orr, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011

    Meghali Pandey is an adult third culture kid (ATCK) who works in youth development and cultural diplomacy. She has written for Youth to End Sexual ViolenceOnpartu, and Use Your Difference magazine. She has worked with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK) on youth engagement with foreign policy, in international cultural exchange with the Cabinet Office of Japan, and on developing cross-cultural youth engagement during disaster and conflict. She is currently developing her writing as a means to explore identity and belonging as an ATCK. 

  • 28 Oct 2016 4:46 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    The FIGT blog is a source of information, ideas and support for its members and the wider globally mobile community. It also provides an opportunity for members to showcase their work and communicate to a wider international audience. As such, we publish:

    ·      Original content written by members;

    ·      Interviews;

    ·      Descriptions of member blogs or highlights of specific posts by members (we do not re-publish entire posts);

    ·      Guest blogs by our sponsors

    ·      Guest blogs by others with experience or knowledge that can benefit members

    Members are encouraged to use the blog to reach a wide, international audience. Posts should not be promotional, but rather contribute original material to the wider debate on issues relevant to the FIGT community. (Promotional blogs are to be submitted to the ‘news’ section of the website for consideration.)

    Once published, blog posts are promoted on the website, the newsletter, the Facebook Page, the LinkedIn group and on Twitter. Contributors are encouraged to link to their post on their own social media outlets.

    To submit a proposal, please email the blog editor at blogeditor@figt.com

    Post should be between 500 to 700 words, include a bio of the author (100 words max) and be accompanied by a photograph or image (of yourself or something relevant to your post).

    Photographers (professional or hobby) are encouraged to provide photographs to the blog. Your contributions will be attributed to you and you can add publication on our blog to your portfolio. Images speak louder than words and we would love to share your vision of the globally mobile world.

  • 06 Oct 2016 12:07 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    by Lisa Ferland

    Pregnant expatriate women must often evaluate contrasting information and interpret well-meaning but confusing advice throughout pregnancy and into parenthood. There are, in fact, no internationally accepted norms: women around the world follow different medical recommendations during pregnancy and are given conflicting instructions regarding consumption of alcohol, caffeine intake, the level of daily exercise, the number of prenatal scans, blood tests, appropriate weight gain, and childbirth recommendations.

    A pregnant woman in Turkey was refused ice in her water because Turks are superstitious about allowing any part of a pregnant woman's body to get cold. When local customs differ greatly from what you are accustomed to, you tend to dismiss them as unnecessary. However, most of them can be traced back to cultural traditions or beliefs. Expat mothers may not understand the history behind the pregnancy recommendations, but I'm sure there is a reason. Right?

    Often, your doctor or midwife's best advice is, " you should listen to your body." In the book, What to Expect When Expecting, the main theme is something like, "Every woman is different and what is normal for you is totally normal," (I'm paraphrasing, of course). With fluffy feel good self-affirming recommendations, you realize that there is no hard evidence behind the majority of pregnancy recommendations. As the Dutch say, "Just act normal—that's crazy enough."

    For the expat woman, absorbing numerous pregnancy recommendations based on cultural norms can lead down a complicated maze of decision making. "Should I do things the way my mother did them back "home" or does my local country have a better approach?" Unfortunately, there's no way of knowing, and that uncertainty can lead to increased stress and anxiety which is not good - the one recommendation that all countries do agree on is the importance of reducing maternal stress.

    Birthing practices around the world also differ, ranging from highly medicalized approaches to low-intervention, home birth or midwife-driven practices. Cesarean section rates can be used as an indicator for the level of medical intervention. Turkey has the highest C-section rate of 50.4/100 live births and the Netherlands with the lowest of 15.6/100 live births (2).

    So, given the variety of practices and definitions of is normal, what is an expat mother to do? Should she dunk her baby's umbilical cord in a warm bath every night as her Thai doctor instructed or keep it dry and swab it with alcohol as her US doctor directed? Does it even matter? For the majority of healthy pregnancies, the answer is no. These recommendations that are not based on scientific evidence are cultural guidelines. If you experience medical complications during your pregnancy, then you want to feel comfortable that your medical team can provide the appropriate level of care for you and your baby.

    To prepare for having a baby abroad, conduct a lot of research and have conversations with other women about their experiences with giving birth in that country. Every woman's experience, even for the woman herself, will be different with every child, but it is good to collect a wide range of stories to prepare yourself for what might happen. Ask questions and take pregnancy recommendations with a grain of salt. The more we learn about what other women deem "normal" during pregnancy, the less we need to be concerned that we are doing something wrong. There is no perfect approach to pregnancy and childbirth, and each woman is unique. 

    Don't let the nine full months of pregnancy be a time of stress, worry, and anxiety as you navigate this vulnerable time abroad. Keep asking questions, mentally preparing, and rubbing that belly. Just be sure you don't let your Turkish neighbors see you eating ice cream lest you risk their wrath.

    For more stories about pregnancy, birth, and childrearing abroad that challenge preconceived notions about motherhood, be sure to read 26 women's stories in Knocked Up Abroad Again. Currently only available on Kickstarter.

    Lisa Ferland is a public health consultant, writer, editor, publisher, and mother of two adorable children. She has lived in Sweden with her husband and two children who enjoy picking blueberries and mushrooms in the forests. Read more at Knocked Up Abroad.

  • 30 Sep 2016 5:56 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)


    Vivian Chiona

    As we move around the world, we are often confronted with the need to communicate in a foreign language. FIGT member Vivian Chiona has written apost on this topic on her blog, Expat Nest. In it, she describes the difficulties language barriers presents us, and offers a list of helpful pointers on how to master language anxiety. Read the full article at www.expatnest.com/dealing-language-barrier-expat/

    Vivian Chiona, founder and director of Expat Nest, is a psychologist with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, as well as Master’s degrees in both Child & Adolescent Psychology and Health Psychology. 

  • 23 Sep 2016 3:29 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    by Rebecca Grappo

    Many families find, to their dismay, that the needs of their exceptional children may not be easily met in a foreign environment. 

    In our years of experience working with internationally mobile families and their children, many have found that with careful planning and coordination, their children have wonderful educational opportunities in either international or local schools. But this is too important to be left to chance. Thus, preparation and investigation is key to a student’s ultimate success overseas.

    There are many factors to consider, therefore, if a family is contemplating an overseas assignment when it involves a child with special needs.  Here are my “Top Ten” tips for those considering such an assignment.

    1. If you live in a country with reputable psychologists who can thoroughly evaluate your child’s learning needs, be sure to have updated psycho-educational testing done for your child before you leave your home country. Know and understand the diagnosis and what the recommendations are to meet your child’s needs. These recommendations are usually a combination of home and school interventions.
    2. Identify schools in the new location of the assignment to see which schools might be able to meet the recommendations. Remember that just because a school might say it accepts students with special needs doesn’t mean they are equipped to deal with ALL kinds of special needs. Some may accept mild learning needs only; others may be able to work with moderate needs. In my experience, it is not easy to find a school that can work with severe special needs. Engage in a dialogue with the receiving school before accepting the assignment, not after.
    3. Find out who the personnel are who are delivering the special needs services. What are their qualifications? Where were they trained? How long do they expect to be in country – forever, because they live there, or are they also expats who will be moving on one day?
    4. Investigate how services are delivered. Is it a study hall with homework help? Are they teaching learning strategies for overcoming certain needs? Does the school have specialists on staff for extra reading or math help? How often will your child/teen be in the learning support classroom each day or week? How receptive are the other teachers in the school to making accommodations or modifications to the curriculum? Are they cooperative or see working with special needs students as an extra burden?
    5. If your child needs certain medications, will these medications be available at your destination? Certain prescription drugs, for example those that might be used for ADHD, might not be available locally and there are limits to how much can be brought into the country at one time.
    6. What about other therapies? Some students need physical therapy, mental health counseling, occupational therapy, speech and language, etc.  Will these be available through the school or will the family be expected to find these independently in the community? Again, look for the training of those delivering the services and their ability to take on new students or clients.
    7. Some families consider homeschooling to meet their children’s educational needs. If this is an option that your family considers, then investigate how your child might get the socialization that is also crucial to development. In the United States, for example, many homeschoolers find peer groups in their own community, but this homeschooling community may not exist in the country of destination. Also, homeschooling is illegal in some countries, so make sure that this is addressed before you embark on this path.
    8. Will the school you have identified actually accept your child and deliver the services promised at the time of acceptance? I would strongly encourage to get any agreements in writing in order to be sure that everyone is on board with the school acceptance and services needed.
    9. Ask how the school will communicate with you with regards to your child’s goals and progress. In the U.S., public schools write Individualized Education Plans, or IEPs, that define the goals, milestones and methods to achieve those markers. Will the school write some kind of agreement like this? How often will they communicate with you regarding your child’s progress? Will parents be welcome to collaborate with the school or will they be kept at arm’s length?
    10. Finally, if you find that your child’s needs cannot be met at any school in your country of assignment, maybe it would be in your child’s or teen’s best interest to exercise the boarding school option. All children need to be in an accepting, supportive, and encouraging environment where their needs will be met. For a developing adolescent, this becomes even more critical. To not receive this kind of educational environment could significantly impact the adolescent’s opportunities and even desire for post-secondary university or vocational education.

    Rebecca Grappo, M.Ed, is a Certified Educational Planner and the founder of RNG International Educational Consultants, LLC. She and her daughter, Michelle (who is trained as a school psychologist) work with students and families around the world to help them find the right educational setting to meet their children’s needs. This includes placement for all kinds of boarding schools, therapeutic schools and programs, university planning, and planning for post-secondary options for students with special needs. You can learn more about their services at www.rnginternational.com or write them at info@rnginternational.com.

  • 16 Sep 2016 10:26 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Are you an aspiring or established writer, with a passionate curiosity for global family issues? Do you want to develop further? Apply for the Parfitt Pascoe Residency at our upcoming 2017 Conference.

    Each year Parfitt Pascoe Writing Residencies are awarded to four budding writers by providing partial scholarships to the FIGT Conference. The name has been chosen to honour the trailblazing writing work of Expat Expert Robin Pascoe and the ongoing commitment to support new writers of Jo Parfitt of Summertime Publishing.

    The four successful scholars will be selected on merit and receive:

    • Free tuition from Jo Parfitt prior to the conference on how to write articles for the global market and how to place them with publications. This will be conducted by means of an 8-session online course, completed by email, prior to the conference.
    • Free mentoring from Jo Parfitt, a journalist who has specialised in expatriate issues for decades and edited three magazines. Mentoring will occur by Skype prior to conference.
    • Editing of your work prior to publication on the FIGT website, blog and newsletter.
    • Partial scholarships to the conference
    • Publication of your work, with byline, in FIGT media.

    In exchange for subsidized entry, the writing scholars are obliged to provide:

    • Coverage of all FIGT sessions according to the designated format.
    • At least six articles and six blog posts about the conference within a pre-agreed deadline.
    • The provision of the conference coverage text by a pre-agreed deadline.
    A commitment to fulfil obligations.

  • 08 Sep 2016 8:41 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    by Virginie Raguenaud

    Raising a bilingual child— either from birth or after a relocation—is a necessity for many of us with mobile lifestyles. We want to keep family ties intact and share our cultural selves with our children. However, it’s a common misconception that children will simply pick up languages if they’re exposed to them. It takes commitment and creativity at home and in our communities for children to learn and, more importantly, maintain two or more languages.

    To help us, here’s a list of 10 recommendations from childhood bilingualism experts and parents who have successfully raised bilingual children.  

    1)         Make our family’s languages relevant to our daily lives.

    The first thing we need to do is to keep speaking our native language daily. “The undeniable need to communicate is sufficient motivation to make a child speak one or more languages, but it is also absolutely indispensable,” writes Traute Taschner, the author of The Sun is Feminine. It’s important for us to use our native language not just during cuddle moments or during scolding sessions, but during fun and varied activities and outings to broaden our children’s vocabulary.

    2)         Be consistent with language choice.

    As Professor Fred Genesee points out, “Young children often react badly to inconsistent or irregular exposure to language; they like consistency. Thus, if parents decide to raise their child bilingual, they should do so only if they can provide continuous and extended exposure to both languages…Children need long term exposure to language if they are to develop full competence.”

    3)         Expose children to a variety of activities in their native language.

    In Bilingual by Choice I've included a list of 100 activities to do at home and in the community to practice language skills. The idea is to give children opportunities to hear and interact in the native language to build up their confidence and self-esteem, and develop a rich vocabulary.

    4)         Help children find peers who speak the same language.

    Their native language has to be socially relevant for them to keep speaking it. For some families it can mean inviting a close cousin or friend from back home to stay with you during the summer months. Personal relationships provide a way for children to maintain and progress in their native language, but also bring a sense of pride in their cultural background.

    5)         Give children access to books in their native language.

    As Professor Ellen Bialystok writes, "There's a lot of worry out there about other languages conflicting with a child's ability to learn to read in English, but that's absolutely not the case - Parents should not hesitate to share their native language with their children - it's a gift."

    6)         Provide a form of bilingual education to stay bilingual.

    According to Professor Colin Baker, “Bilingual children must be biliterate for their languages to have value, uses, and prospects… Biliteracy aids chances of employment, achievement, and enculturation.”

    7)         Elevate the status of our native languages.

    One bilingual parent and California resident Rey M. Rodriguez writes, “I want my children to be proud of who they are, and to help them, I need a community that signals that Spanish is important in their lives. It amazes me that a two-year old boy can already grasp that English is the dominant language and that Spanish is secondary and less valued.”

    There are more than 60,000,000 of us in the U.S. who speak another language than English at home, so I believe there is strength in numbers.

    8)         Build a strong support network because we can’t do it alone.

    It's important to lean on friends and family, teachers and community leaders who can remind children that bilingualism opens doors. As Professor François Grosjean writes, “Children do not acquire (or only partly acquire) the minority language if there isn’t community or educational support, or other motivational factors that make using the language a natural thing.”

    9)         Promote and reinforce our cultural values with our children.

    Research shows that children have a better chance of growing up bilingual if they have a strong sense of ethnic pride. It’s important for children to be aware of their heritage and active in the traditions of their cultures.

    And last, but not least,

    10)       Help our children successfully integrate their cultural identities.

    As most of you know, the identity development of a soon-to-be bilingual and bicultural child is a complex issue. According to Dugan Romano, the author of Intercultural Marriage, "The secret - to raising bicultural children - appears to lie in the parents' ability to encourage open discussion of the children's mixed heritage, as well as the opportunity given the children to develop positive relationships with both cultural or racial groups."

    Virginie Raguenaud is the author of Bilingual By Choice: Raising kids in two (or more!) languages, published by Intercultural Press. Virginie recently completed her master’s degree in intercultural relations, with a focus on second language acquisition and the identity development of multicultural children. She is raising her ten-year-old twin daughters in French and English.    

  • 02 Sep 2016 4:04 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    For first time attendees, FIGT has a special Scholarship: the Pollock Scholarship. Winners of this award receive free registration and a small stipend for travel expenses.

    Honoring the memory of David C. Pollock, international educator, minister, sociologist, and co-author of “Third Culture Kids: Growing up Among Worlds,” this scholarship aims to attract, involve and inspire emerging, global-minded, intercultural leaders.

    Attending the FIGT conference is an opportunity to build your network and resources and share your passion. We are looking to support individuals who can contribute to our community of globally mobile families with fresh research, ideas, tools and programs.

    FIGT is known as a warm and welcoming community. Attending one our conferences is a unique opportunity to engage with thought leaders across a broad spectrum of specialties and sectors.

    Learn more see http://figt.org/2017_Scholarship_App

  • 30 Aug 2016 7:05 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Sign up for the FIGT Newsletter mailing list to automatically receive regular emails from FIGT. It’s a convenient way to stay updated with events, read interesting articles and stay informed about new developments and the latest research.

    Please note: Signing up for the FIGT Newsletter does not mean that you become a member of FIGT nor receive membership benefits.

    But by signing up, you get breaking news about our next conference, monthly webinars and what's happening in the FIGT community.

  • 29 Jul 2016 5:41 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Most of us agree that so much is gained from our global experiences, and also that we cannot ignore the loss and grief it also brings along. At FIGT 2016, Ruth Van Reken explained that she and her friends had hoped their kitchen table talks would allow them, one day, to travel to a conference addressing the topics that a globally mobile lifestyle brings. Not only did her dream come to fruition, but the table expanded beyond expectations into an ever-expanding tent. At FIGT 2016, each presenter allowed us to connect through stories. Not only did they bring us empathy and expertise, they also brought us hope and dreams.

    In the following four blogs, Valerie highlights the lessons she learned from each keynote speaker, as well as from Doug Ota’s presentation which especially resonated with her as a teacher.





    Originally Dutch, Valérie Besanceney grew up internationally and taught primary school on four continents. Currently, she lives and works in Switzerland with her husband and their two daughters. Her interest in the topic of third culture kids spurred her on to write stories children who move can identify with. Her first book B at Home: Emma Moves Again, is a fictional memoir about a ten-year-old girl who has to move yet again. Her second book, My Moving Booklet, is a workbook that serves as a tool for children to explore their feelings about an upcoming move and to write their own ‘moving’ story.

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