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.

  • 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.

  • 29 Jul 2016 5:11 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Share your expertise, experience and knowledge by submitting a proposal to speak at one of our conferences.

    By leading a session, you’ll have the opportunity to:

    • Tap into a highly connected consortium of globally minded, cross-sector colleagues and clients
    • Interact and share your expertise with attendees throughout the conference
    • Have your photo and biography included in the promotional materials for the conference
    • Speaker page on our website
    • Conference program booklet
    • Conference app
    • Wear a name tag highlighting your speaker status

    There are a wide variety of session formats to choose from, including:

    • Concurrent Sessions: Interactive, practice-based, solution-oriented workshops or presentations that appeal to attendees across sectors. 
    • Kitchen Table Conversations: Lively, interactive, brief presentations/conversations about a focused, practical topic, designed to expose conference attendees to a range of ideas and presenters. 
    • Lighting Sessions: Dynamic, structured talks allow presenters to share big ideas quickly to all conference attendees. 
    • Panel Discussions: Expert panels can be an effective way to consolidate knowledge and lead a conversation across sectors and areas of experience/expertise. 
    • Posters: These summarize information, ideas or research concisely and attractively to help publicize it and generate discussion.
    • Keynote Speeches: High-level lecture, presentation or performance, followed by Q&A. 

     If you’re willing to share your leading-edge research, expertise and experience; raise big questions; and create practical tools for global families -- in all their variations -- then we’d like to hear from you!

    Visit the Request for Proposals page on our website for full details and an application form.

  • 23 Jul 2016 10:09 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    FIGT member Karen A. Wrobbel has published an article in Evangelical Missions Quarterly on a topic of interest to many of our readers. 

    Though many globally mobile families choose international schools for their children's education, some, especially in the missions community where there are long term stays in given locations, use the host country national schools. Students who have studied in these schools may face unique transition issues as they return to their homeland. This article discusses seven issues for families to address in this situation. Though the focus is on members of the missions community and return to the United States, members with other backgrounds may find it helpful. 

    The article is currently available without login at:


    Karen A. Wrobbel, EdD, lived and worked internationally for more than twenty years in roles that included teacher, administrator, school board member, and agency-wide coordinator for children’s education. Currently, she is associate professor of education at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL, USA). She also serves as associate (volunteer) staff with SHARE Education Services, an organization that helps expatriate families living in Europe, Russia and Central Asia with their children’s educational needs.

  • 10 Jul 2016 3:35 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    by Connla Stokes - Global Connection - Expat Partner Support

    adidas expat partner Nathan Tytor explains how Partner Support helped him open a small restaurant in Germany without speaking the language fluently.

    Now is the time

    Over the years, Nate – as he prefers to be called – has been a Harley Davidson test driver, toured in a punk band, worked in highway construction, and dabbled in video production, to name just a few of the many, many jobs he’s done. “But for a while now I have wanted to set up a small ‘taco shack’ selling West Coast style tacos and burritos,” says Nate, who was born in Wisconsin and raised in Portland, Oregon in the US. “The last time we were in Nuremberg I didn’t have a work permit but when Tiffany accepted a position to return, I said ‘ok, now is the time’.”

    Indispensable advice

    “We returned in July 2015, and I got Crazy Nate’s up and running by January 16, 2016. The adidas expat partner support programme proved extremely useful. My Global Connection business coach, Florian Sussner was amazing – maybe I could have figured it all out by myself eventually. But he basically took me through all the steps: procuring a licence, getting insurance and health certification, the whole nine yards. He was also helpful in finding industry contacts that I would need going forward. For an expat setting up a business in a foreign land, it was all indispensable advice. Especially as my German is, for now, limited though I am learning.”

    A fun place to hang out

    “Initially I imagined just doing everything myself but I realised that was impossible. People expect Mexican food to come out quickly. So, now we are a team of five making fresh, authentic, street-style tacos as well as burritos, quesadilla and nachos using as much homegrown and locally sourced ingredients as possible,” says Nate, who uses social media to ‘spread the word’. “People said Germans didn’t like spicy food, but so far, so good. You can’t beat people on the head with something they don’t want. So I just concentrate on making a fun place to hang out and it’s working pretty well.”

    Loving every second

    “Of course, there have been frustrations – sourcing certain ingredients and finding staff was time consuming. But whatever might be described as a setback I just chalk down to experience. I should also say that Tiffany deals with a lot of the paperwork in her free-time so I can stay creative in the kitchen! I’d probably wait till a government official arrived at the door in terms of that side of running a business! But generally speaking this has been awesome. Maybe it was hard at times, but I wanted to do this, so I did it and I love every second of it. It’s a dream come true.”

    Source: Global Connection's media for spouses (B2B subscription).

    For more information about Global Connection’s spousal support: www.global-connection.info

  • 27 Jun 2016 3:10 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    by Sophia Marshall

    Realistically, the value of international experience should be at the forefront of an employer’s mind. After all, our society is becoming more globally connected day-by-day. With the rise of a flexible work environment including modified hours, telework, and co-working arrangements, social tools make it easy to chat with anyone on another continent. 

    But while things have changed rapidly for the workplace environment, describing the value of international experience still remains a challenge for those with global backgrounds. How does a global professional highlight their experience in such a way that it can be understood by potential employers? Will this experience be appreciated? Here are a few ways to reinforce the value of your international experience throughout the key parts of your résumé/CV.

    Summary of Qualifications: This section should serve as an overview highlighting your value to the organization. You will want to use particular keywords that capture interest regarding your international fluency (diversity, awareness, independence, communication, problem-solving, etc.). Think of a time when you may have been a bridge builder while traveling or within a previous position. Here are a few ways to annotate this:

    ~Utilized cross-cultural skills to champion global viewpoint on XYZ project. ~

    ~Always available to deliver advice, taking a diplomatic view when handling crisis situations. ~

    Tip: This should always be written in a way that shows what you can do for the target organization. Also remember to address what they are looking for.

    Professional Experience: Many global professionals may not have a work history that encompasses one or two organizations. Instead, we often have experiences that are dynamic as we move around the world. The key here is to remember the skills earned during volunteer stints, non-traditional positions, and travel experiences. Here are a few examples of what these entries may look like:

    Volunteer position: Honed Patois language skills while taking part in humanitarian missions in Jamaica, supporting health and education services.  

    Project-based position: Gained insights into German workplace culture as part of 3-month consulting assignment for Lidl, a supermarket chain.

    Non-traditional position: Boosted knowledge and understanding of the U.S. school system by taking part in open forum sessions organized by local Japanese government officials.

    Tip: This section of your CV/résumé is important because it substantiates the claims made in the first section.

    Education & Training: Global professionals feel that travel is an education in itself. But reality states that there are times when it has to be proven.  It’s best to inquire with the organization and country where you wish to live in order to obtain the proper evaluation and/or identify your next steps. List education in your respective country first and the evaluation findings (if applicable) second. That entry could resemble the following:

    Degree Name, Date Earned

    Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey

    Degree Name equivalent to XYZ degree evaluated by XYZ organization, Date

    Tip: The value of education and training may differ by country. Remain flexible and find other opportunities to boost skills when necessary.

    You do not have to blur your international experience because you are applying to an organization that does not have a strong international focus. Instead, become a master at capturing an employer’s attention. This can be done by highlighting the right skills that will enhance their operations, using your global perspective. 


    Sophia Marshall, MHR is the founder of MeSheet®, a career management organization focused on resume writing. She has a resume writing credential and is a Board Certified Coach (BCC) who writes, speaks, and advises on professional resumes and job search.

    Sophia’s diverse career began as part of the Japan Exchange Teaching (JET) program. After returning to the U.S. for a short time, she was back abroad as a military spouse and was traveling internationally even more extensively.  Coupling her international and military experience with multiple positions she has held in academia, social services, and training, anchors her effectiveness as a career strategist and resume writing professional.

  • 22 Jun 2016 8:57 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    FIGT member Janneke Muyselaar-Jellema is a medical doctor specialized in the normal development of children and adolescents.  Born and bred in Africa, Janneke is a TCK who transitioned at at the age of 19 from Zimbabwe to the Netherlands for her medical training. Married to a CCK, together they raise their kids in the Netherlands. Janneke has worked in child and adolescent mental health, and in an asylum seekers centre. Currently she works in medical education and in a child rehabilitation centre.

    Janneke blogs on her site, DrieCulturen. She explains that the name of the blog is Dutch for ‘three cultures’. She chose this name because her blog is about third culture kids (TCKs) who grow up in other cultures. She says:

    •     The first culture is about citizenship;
    •     The second is about the countries an individual lived in;
    •     The third is about the community of individuals that share the experience of growing up internationally.

    You can read an example of Janneke’s posts at http://drieculturen.blogspot.fr/2015/08/interesting-interview-with-rachel-cason.html. In this blog post she interviews Rachel Cason who spoke about her thought-provoking PhD research at the 2016 FIGT conference. Rachel’s thesis examined the notions of belonging, identity, and relationship to place of Adult Third Culture Kids.

    For more from DrieCulturen see https://drieculturen.blogspot.com/ Or go to twitter: @DrieCulturen and @JMuyselaar

  • 13 Jun 2016 8:26 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    by Sybille Kenny - Global Connection - Expat Partner Support

    Travelling abroad and adjusting to a new culture for the first time is an exciting opportunity for South African Heineken expat partner, Matome Rapholo. After four months of living in the Netherlands, Matome emphasizes the importance of being well prepared for life in a new culture.

    Perception of other culture

    “I knew it wasn’t easy to start a conversation with them… no small talk… always serious… extremely direct,” says Matome with a smile, who is from Johannesburg in South Africa. This was Matome’s initial perception of Dutch culture before moving to the Netherlands. After talking to an intercultural trainer, Matome found he had a better understanding of Dutch values and behaviour which enabled him to interact more comfortably with people from his host country. In the meantime, Matome has got used to the direct way of communication and actually prefers it, as he says there is “no room for misunderstandings and the message is clear.”

    Differences matter

    People from different cultures have their own ways of dealing with day-to-day life. What may be correct behavior in one country, may not be acceptable behavior in another. As Matome observed, “A gesture in South Africa might mean I’m OK, whereas in the Netherlands that gesture could have a completely different meaning and it could set you back in your progress of settling down in a new country.”

    Intercultural preparation

    The aim of intercultural training is to make people aware of the values, norms and behaviour of other cultures, and to help them adapt more quickly to a new environment. According to a Global Connection survey in 2011, one of the factors that contributes to a successful international assignment is intercultural training for the whole family. The easier and faster it is for the family to adjust to life in a foreign culture the better are the chances of a successful assignment abroad.

    Adapt without losing identity

    Intercultural training also helps people learn more about themselves and their own culture. To what extent each expat partner adjusts to the host culture is a personal decision. Matome did not feel comfortable with the way that Dutch people shake hands at any given opportunity, “even at soccer matches”. He decided “no handshake anymore, I am fist pumping. Instead of totally losing myself I try to change small things. It worked well.”

    Expat partner advice

    Matome’s advice is that expat partners should consider a cultural course. “For me it was very important, because I’ve realized there is a point where you can get distressed with how people behave in that country, but had you been told about this behavior beforehand you wouldn’t be so uptight about it… or so scared… when you see it happening.”

    Source: Global Connection's media for spouses (B2B subscription).

    For more information: www.global-connection.info

  • 11 Jun 2016 12:14 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Sam Parfitt 

    It was my first time at the Families in Global Transition (FIGT) conference, but those four letters had been present in my life for as long as I can remember, even if I hadn’t the foggiest idea what they meant. My mother, Jo, was always going to ‘FIGT’ and would return from Indianapolis with Hershey’s chocolates and tacky souvenirs of the Speedway they’ve got there. I guess that’s what FIGT meant to me: bad chocolate and cool – to a 14-year-old – t-shirts of racing cars. My expectations were met in one respect: thanks to the information stands there was plenty of cheap chocolate to go around! Fortunately, however, I realized FIGT was about a lot more, and it could also be meaningful to someone my age – someone who wears the ‘expat’ badge with some discomfort.

    When I meet people for the first time and they ask me where I’m from, I tend not to give them the long answer. “The UK,” I say, or “the UK and the Netherlands,” if they’re lucky. The moment I mention I was born in Dubai, a giant banner screaming oil unfurls behind me (at least that’s what I fear) and along with it, “Oh, so you must be rich?” Of course, most of this is the product of my own imagination, yet when your friends are activists and artists, it’s not the best way to convince others of your ethical ‘purity’ or artistic ‘authenticity’. Identity crises aside, I was also concerned the term ‘expat’ excludes those who do not move with the security of a job, or who move with the intention – or with no other choice but – to integrate. I write at a time of intense migration, most of it forced, from the global South to the global North.

    It would be nice to write that my doubts were assuaged, but unfortunately they were not. I realized, however, FIGT provides a forum for those who, like me, move and seek meaning from the moves they have made. It provides a forum for those who want to help people make the most out of the changes that have beset them. Hearing Doug Ota’s call for a network of Safe Harbors made me wish I had had such a service offered to me upon arrival at one of the many international schools I attended. Claudia Koerbler’s Kitchen Table, in which she shared details of an international school’s response to the refugee crisis in Europe, reassured me that attempts are being made to build bridges between the expat clique and others who move.

    While I learnt FIGT is not claiming to represent the stories of all those who move, I think it is nonetheless worth noting that many of the stories told at FIGT are those of the privileged few who move with the security of a job and who often come from the global North. That said, it is invaluable that such a forum exists, for without it we almost certainly would be lost.

    Sam Parfitt is a trained anthropologist and freelance writer who has grown up in Dubai, Oman, Norway, England and the Netherlands. He has had articles published in local, national and international newspapers and has written arts reviews for music blogs and student journals. Berlin is his home away from home. London his centre of gravity. He is now looking for full time work in the arts and museums and/or charity sectors while working on a book on the pioneers of Penang for Summertime Publishing.

  • 04 Jun 2016 3:45 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Ellen Beard

    Honored at the opportunity to present in a Kitchen Table Conversation and thrilled with receiving the Parfitt Pascoe Writing Residency (PPWR), I approached the conference with high hopes and positive expectations. Having never presented in a professional setting beyond peer undergraduate classmates, however, nerves began to build leading up to the conference. My excitement at meeting and learning from professionals in all fields of expat-related work was met with equal anxiety.

    Among my People

    Upon arriving in Amsterdam and first meeting with the PPWR team my anxiety quickly turned to eagerness. I was still nervous at being surrounded by so many great people, but meeting the wonderful faces behind the emails helped form a connection. My focus shifted from fear of failure to the joy of learning as the writing team became a group of mentors and the audience to whom I presented became an engaged and thoughtful voice. Though I still felt like a minnow among a “room full of legends,” as keynote speaker Chris O’Shaughnessy put it, I realized even my small voice has something to contribute to the larger conversation.

    What I Never Knew I Never Knew

    I learned far more than I had expected. With a strangely pleasant confidence, I learned the communication skills involved in networking and gained a genuine curiosity for others’ lives. I gained new insight, both practical and theoretical, from the various speakers, and made valuable connections over dinner conversations. Most importantly, I realized despite having read books, conducted qualitative research, and even grown up as a TCK, I still know very little. FIGT opened up a vast new world of knowledge and questions on a subject I thought I knew like my own hand. I even gained insight on new subjects within the expat community I did not know existed.

    The Perfect Place to Start 

    The beautiful part of FIGT that really stood out to me is the family atmosphere in harmony with brilliant academics. I did not expect a conference attended by everyone from parents to researchers and professionals in all fields of work to be so warm and welcoming. Rather than the pursuit of merit and academic prestige, I saw a group of people who come together to engage and share ideas out of genuine passion for the international community. This reminded me of my own conviction that all work, learning, and success must be towards the benefit of fellow human beings. I cannot picture a more perfect experience to begin my career and post-undergraduate life.

    Ellen Beard grew up in multifaceted Osh, Kyrgyzstan and flourishing Hanoi, Vietnam, and now studies psychology, interdisciplinary art, and humanities for her bachelor's degree at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California. As an American-Asian artist, her diverse background, eclectic experiences and challenging education have developed in her a passion for learning, harmony, and all things international. Currently working in various research assistant positions and TCK student leadership roles, she aspires to use her growing skills in the areas of psychology and the arts to pursue harmony among people of all conditions of mental health, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

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