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.
  • 28 Feb 2016 10:23 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Dr Ute Limacher-Riebold 

    In two weeks, the FIGT conference will take place for the first time in Europe. Amsterdam is a truly international city, where 45 per cent oft he population are ethnic minorities coming from 180 different backgrounds.

    I found out about FIGT thanks to Ellen Mahoney, when she held a talk on TCKs in The Hague a few years ago. I had read about TCKs before and was very glad to find out (in my late thirties!) that there was a name for what I was my whole life. I am an ATCK or expat*-since-birth , raising my children outside of their parents' passport countries.

    The fact that I only lived in European countries so far will probably make me a European ATCK? – I usually don't like labels, but I find the discussion about TCKs, ATCKs, global nomads, expats, internationals etc. in the FIGT research group very interesting, and I appreciate the fact that the "box" is becoming more colourful and expansible. I am also intrigued by the recurrent number three that we can find in many kinds of definitions: Third Culture Kids, I am a Triangle, STARS (i.e Spouses Traveling And Relocating Successfully; the peaks are triangles), not to mention the three years itch many internationals have... – Aside from this more definitorial research at FIGT, it is the social and psychological aspect that fascinates me. Since a very young age I have seen families split, people getting divorced and children being shunted between two or more countries because the international life took a toll on them. The fact that some thrive in very difficult conditions, whereas others complain about the weather, the food etc. and struggle to accept diversity, brought me to study resilience and the mindset that leads people to fully embrace life even under difficult circumstances.  

    For more than 20 years I have helped internationals adjust and thrive abroad as a friend, a mentor, a teacher and a lecturer, in Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands, before I turned my passion into my profession at Ute's Expat* Lounge. Like many other accompanying partners** I reinvented myself and decided to combine my expertise in linguistics, communication and the six languages I speak fluently to help internationals build bridges between the known and the unknown and find their very personal way to embrace and enjoy their international life.

    It will be my first FIGT conference and as a newbie I will do it the way "it all originated": with a kitchen table conversation. I am really looking forward to meeting like minded internationals and learn more about how we all contribute to help people understand that our international experience can be as normal and natural as any other if we realize that we are "united in diversity", quoting the EU motto. Because, like Pico Iyer (2013) (http://blog.ted.com/where-is-home-pico-iyer-at-tedglobal-2013/) said, if we all lived together, we would form "the fifth largest nation on earth".

    * I use the term expat in its strictest sense: ex "outside of" & patriam "father-country"/home country

    ** I prefer the term Accompanying Partner instead of Trailing Spouse, because I associate wheels with the term "trailing" and I don't think that one needs to be married to follow his or her partner abroad


    Dr. Ute Limacher-Riebold is German, and currently lives in The Hague. As an expat since birth, she has never lived in her passport-country. Her aim is to help internationals navigate their life abroad successfully. For more information see www.UtesExpatLounge.com

  • 19 Feb 2016 9:20 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    by Karen Glerum*, Global Connection                 

    Whether you enjoy meeting strangers, depends as much on you as on them. Try to think positive about yourself and you may even come to relish the most dreaded question of all…

    To love or to loathe

    A British newspaper columnist asked successful professionals for advice on how to make it through a night of mingling with strangers at a festive party. She got a very mixed response: “Don’t go,” one actress simply said. “Take a good book and hide in the loo,” advised a celebrity chef. A playwright told her, “I used to be shy, but I’ve become more fearless about talking to people. I say: ‘I don’t know you, you don’t know me, that’s why we’re here.’”

    Your mindset

    “Whether you enjoy meeting new people has a lot to do with your mindset,” explains Global Connection consultant Karlijn de Broeck*. “If you go to an event and think: ‘Nobody will know me’, ‘Nobody will find me interesting’, then it is not going to work. If, on the other hand, you believe you are an interesting person and someone will enjoy your company, then you will have an entirely different experience. Luckily, people can improve their mindset. A life coach can help, by discussing the event in question, for example.”

    Feeling like a doormat

    Karlijn continues: “In my experience, the problem with meeting new people usually boils down to: ‘What will people think of me?’ Many expat partners particularly fear the question, ‘So, what do you do?’ They have often given up their job to move abroad, so what can they say? ‘I take my kids to school’ hardly seems a valid answer to them. It makes them feel like a doormat. I advise them to talk about what they do for fun, such as a sport, a hobby, volunteering. This steers the conversation into another direction, to a subject they can talk about with enthusiasm.”

    Changing perceptions

    The way you formulate your answer also influences people’s perceptions, says Karlijn. “A useful approach, for example, is to focus on who you help. Saying ‘I help at school with organising a fundraising event so they can extend the library’ or ‘I help my children to keep their native language skills on a par with their friends back home’ sounds much better than a plain ‘I look after my kids.’ Some people I work with find it hard to come up with a subject to talk about. But all of us have a passion that will help break the ice.”

    *Karen en Karlijn will visit the 2016 FIGT Annual Conference in Amsterdam on behalf of Global Connection (12 conference attendees).

    Adapted and edited from an original article, in Global Connection's media for spouses (B2B subscription).

    For more information: www.global-connection.info

    Image: Flickr - Benjamin Gonzales

  • 12 Feb 2016 3:40 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Katarina Holm­-DiDio

    As we are getting closer to FIGT 2016, for the first time held outside of the US, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, we felt it would be of interest to share this interview with Christina Bertarelli, FIGT member and former Parfitt/Pascoe Writing Residency Scholarship winner.

    Cristinagrew up in a beautiful small town in Italy on Lake Como, in a family that rarely traveled abroad and preferred to vacation close to home. Then she met her partner in adventure, an Italian born in the U.S. but raised in Italy. His career with the United Nations would take them from Switzerland to France and then to New York City, where they have lived for almost seven years. They are raising two TCKs, a daughter now in college in the U.K. and a 13-year-old son. Cristina has moved with her family into 15 different houses in 20 years, and for the first time she feels she has found her home. She has come to embrace the life of an expat and carries her home with her.

    I met Cristina two years ago through the Local Expat Spouse Association of the United Nations in New York, at a meeting of coaches supporting expatriate U.N. spouses and partners. Her energy and passion about the work we do and the life and needs of a “U.N. Spouse/Partner” made a strong impression on me. That’s why I am so happy she was selected for the Parfitt Pascoe Writing Residency for FIGT2014 and returned to the 2015 Conference as a Kitchen Table presenter. I asked Cristina to describe her experience at her first conference last year.

    “It was a step out of my comfort zone,” she replies. “Until I attended FIGT2014, I had lived my expat life not thinking out of the box, with self-limiting beliefs and gremlins that worked hard to convince me that I was not good enough to continue my exploration of the expat world. Luckily, I started to meet like-minded people, initially socializing with other U.N. expatriate families and beyond. Attending FIGT2014 was a big step out of my bubble into a broader expat world. It was enlightening and I felt an immediate, strong connection with the other attendees at the Conference, which is why I also became an FIGT member.”

    Writing with Jo Parfitt’s support and guidance was a life-changing experience for Cristina. It gave her the confidence to continue developing her blog, and a group of like-minded expat writers to exchanges ideas with.

    Why is she back at FIGT?

    “Because you challenged me to it,” she answers jokingly, referring to my suggestion she submit a proposal as a presenter. The challenge did get her creative juices flowing and during a long walk the idea that became her proposal came to her – “Changing Home is More than a Theory” – where she explores moving with the help of our senses. “Change is an open door, sometimes we are not ready for it, and that is OK too, but we need to make the best of it.”

    So why is she really back, and why should you attend?

    “Because of all that I received last year was worth coming back for and to give back for. When you step out of your comfort zone, you find yourself. I also found a place where I felt understood, and with possibilities to share experiences with like-minded people.”

    This interview appeared in the FIGT Newsletter 17 February 2015 immediately before the FIGT 2015 Annual Conference in Washington, DC. 

  • 05 Feb 2016 3:16 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Beth Hoban

    A Chinese proverb says, “A single conversation with a wise person is better than 10 years of study.” One of the largest draws of the Families in Global Transitions (FIGT) conference is the community and the conversations that take place, not only in the formal sessions but also in the hallways and across the table while sharing a good meal.

    On Saturday morning, I overheard a participant in the breakfast line say, “Going to the FIGT conference is like going to a high school reunion, except without all the awkwardness.” At the 2015 FIGT conference each morning provided an opportunity to enjoy a fantastic breakfast buffet and participate in a wide range of conversations with other participants in a casual and informal manner without any awkwardness.

    I credit Ruth Van Reken, co-founder of FIGT, for the success of these informal discussions. She has hardwired the casual, yet authentic, inspiring, and intimate communication style into the Kitchen Table Conversations and Early Bird sessions. This style of idea sharing and grassroots participation has a great richness to it. As I walked around the room each morning, I could feel the energy in the participants starting to build.

    A board was available in the hallway for anyone to sign up with a topic they wanted to discuss. Sessions were then listed on small placards and posted in the center of each table. Some of this year’s topics included:

    • What does Third Culture Kid (TCK) mean? What defines a TCK?
    • Where does hope live? New beginnings after losses. Losses after new beginnings
    • Young Adult TCK Transitions Needs and Opportunities
    • Mindfulness and the International Student
    • Expats and Retirement
    • Online Marketing
    • The Interchange Institute Overview
    • What’s your favorite city street?

    Each morning groups would gather at a table with a topic that suited them or participants could just sit and converse with others without a formal topic. I asked Lauren Owen, one of this year’s Parfitt/ Pascoe Writing scholars, to share her thoughts on the early bird session. “I chose to sit in on the TCK talk by Michael Pollock because I’ve found there is a fair amount of support for TCKs transitioning to college, but not very much for those transitioning from college to post-graduate life, and without the networks their mono-cultural counterparts have in their passport country, it’s hard for us to get the support we need. It was nice to know first, that I was not alone in this recognition, and second, that there are some people who are considering and discussing similar things.”

    Personally, I found myself lingering at the On Line Marketing discussion as participants were generously sharing ideas and personal experiences. One of the participants at the table noted, “In this day and age of social media it is important to have ‘googleability’. People are going to research you and it is important to make sure that your on-line profile aligns with your messaging.”

    I also recall dropping by the table where participants were discussing their favorite streets in cities where they have lived. One participant described in rich detail a cobblestone street, with small shops along both sides. They described the sensation of feeling the street under their feet, the sounds they could hear, and the smell of the air. At that moment in time, the speaker was deeply entrenched in a fond memory and magically transported the entire table along with her.

    As I meandered around the room and listened to the conversation two things were clear – wisdom and ideas were being shared, and seeds were being planted and nurtured. I look forward to next year’s conference to see what those seeds will sprout.

  • 29 Jan 2016 6:12 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    I was first attracted to FIGT when I heard that the term STAR (Successfully Travelled and Relocated) had emerged from this forum. Since then, FIGT has been on my bucket list. I started working with ACCESS (a not-for-profit volunteer based organisation in the Netherlands which serves the international/expatriate community) and at the start of 2015 decided to aim to make it to the FIGT 2016 conference. My goal was made achievable when I learned that it was coming here, to the Netherlands. So, yes, I will be there, because seriously, how often does your bucket list come to you?!

    Going back to what drew me though, the term STAR, and where I am today.

    I am, myself, a STAR. I have relocated as a child, a student, a professional, a newlywed, a spouse, a parent and divorcee. That I have done so successfully is as much due to my character as it was to the foundation I was given by my parents who ‘started’ me on this journey. As I matured and travelled, I realised that this foundation was a privilege to have received, and not a given. I have come across many, many people who, despite being enthusiastic or determined to make the most of an expatriate assignment, struggle to make it a successful experience – for themselves and their families. I have learnt to ‘hear’ the silent calls for help from those struggling (yet perhaps not admitting it) and to listen and guide people to how they can flourish rather than just survive.

    It is, therefore, perhaps not surprising that my role at ACCESS also fell onto my lap – as if a lifetime of experience had prepared me just for this specific role: bridging the gap between arrival and successful settlement, not only for the anonymous public we serve, but perhaps more importantly for the volunteers we work with in order to help the others.

    In fact, I like to think that at ACCESS we take DARERS (Daring Adventurers Resolving to Explore Relocation Successfully) and give them the wings or roots to become STARS (Successfully Travelled and Relocated) – here or elsewhere.

    I will be at FIGT to learn more about all the wonderful and necessary things being said, done, researched, explored, exchanged and experienced so that I too can ‘shine’ a little brighter and learn a lot more. For one thing is clear in my mind: STARS may shine in isolation, but they can only burn brightly with support. Thank goodness for forums such as FIGT which encourage this.

    Deborah Valentine is Canadian by birth, expat by upbringing and for the last 6 years Director of ACCESS, which is dedicated to helping internationals settle in the Netherlands.

    To our readers: Deborah provided three alternatives for the DARERS acronym:

    Determined And Resolute Expatriate Relocation Survivors

    Determined Adventurers in Resolving and Enduring Relocation Stress

    Daring Adventurers Resolving to Explore Relocation Successfully

    Which do you prefer?

  • 22 Jan 2016 4:42 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Families in Global Transition (FIGT) originated as a kitchen table conversation in 1998. Ruth van Reken, a pioneer in research on what are now known as Third Culture Kids (TCK’s), brought together a group of like-minded expatriate women familiar with the realities of global transition and raising families abroad. Together they imagined a conference where globally mobile families and the people who worked with them could discuss issues facing their community, share resources, and discover best practices.

    Today, FIGT hosts three-day conferences that include thought-provoking keynote speeches, insightful concurrent sessions, and intimate “kitchen table” conversations to honor the legacy that started FIGT seventeen years ago.

    For those who are not familiar with the organisation, Families in Global Transition provides a welcoming forum for globally mobile individuals, families, and those working with them. They promote cross-sector connections for sharing research and developing best practices that support the growth, success and well-being of people crossing cultures around the world. This “welcoming forum” includes individuals from a variety of sectors including corporate, diplomatic, NGO, academic, the arts, mission, and military. FIGT is a membership organization and offers a variety of informational services throughout the year such as webinars, newsletters, and opportunities to develop networks and share research on themes critical to globally mobile families such as identity and belonging.

    This coming spring, it won’t be just the expatriates that are on the move! The FIGT Conference is stepping out of the US for the first time.

    Its new home? Amsterdam! This year, the conference will be held at the historical de Bazel building from March 10-12, 2016.

    "Moving the annual conference to the Netherlands after seventeen years in the United States was an intentional decision to help engage our community in a new way, and to bring additional awareness of FIGT to a country with a large expatriate population” said Kilian Kroell, FIGT Board President. “We are thrilled to bring the connection-building, cutting-edge research, and insightful discussions that attendees have come to expect at FIGT conferences to the Netherlands for #FIGT16."

    This conference is already shaping up to be a popular one - with record-breaking numbers of presenter applications and a wealth of registrants from across the globe. The theme Moving Across Cultures: Bringing Empathy and Expertise to the Evolving Global Family resonates across all sectors and promises to bring together perspectives from global corporations, military and diplomatic services, academia, missions, cross-cultural service providers and the expatriates themselves. This inclusivity and diversity of voices is part of what makes FIGT so unique, and leaves each attendee with a sense that they have found a group of people that truly understand them, regardless of whether they’ve lived in one country or 50.

    Registration for the 2016 Annual Conference is now open and can be found on FIGT’s website: http://www.figt.org/2016_Conference.

    This article first appeared in ACCESS magazine: http://www.access-nl.org/about-access/access-publications/magazine/winter-2015-e-zine.aspx

  • 16 Jan 2016 6:31 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    by Sarah Bringhurst Familia

    Here at the Expatriate Archive Centre (EAC) in The Hague, we were thrilled to hear that the annual FIGT Conferenc e will be held just next door in Amsterdam. Besides being our neighbor and one of our favorite cities, Amsterdam has a wonderful international atmosphere, and has welcomed expat families from all over the world for many years.

    This year’s topic of “Bringing Empathy and Expertise to the Evolving Global Family” ties in perfectly with the many resources and support networks available to expats in the Amsterdam area. As an archive dedicated to preserving the social history of expats, we appreciate being located near Amsterdam, where there is such a rich and diverse international community. As well as allowing us all a chance to connect with that community, the FIGT conference is a wonderful opportunity for us here at the EAC to meet global families from around the world and hear your stories.

    Amsterdam in March is just beginning to bloom with a panapoly  of colourful spring flowers. The weather becomes milder, yet the city is still relatively uncrowded, making it an ideal time to visit its world famous museums, like the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, as well as sights like the Anne Frank House. It is a very family-friendly city with many parks, cafés, and children’s activities, so feel free to bring along the kids for some sightseeing or a canal trip through Amsterdam’s picturesque centre.

    We look forward to seeing you at the FIGT conference, and if you have the inclination, we invite you to take a short train ride over to The Hague to visit us at the EAC and find out more about how we are preserving the stories of expats for research and future generations.

    Visit the Expatriate Archive Centre at: www.xpatarchive.com/

    Sarah Bringhurst Familia is originally from the United States, but has been an expat in several countries, including Italy, Chile, and Tunisia. She now makes her home in Amsterdam and is the PR and Marketing Manager for the Expatriate Archive Centre, a private archive that collects primary source materials documenting expat life and makes them available for academic research.

  • 07 Jan 2016 7:31 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Guest Blog contritubed by Naomi Hattaway

    Something that is very new to me and VERY much enjoyed is the luxury of having a driver.

    I don’t have to explain it to you … no hunting for the car keys, no need to worry about reaching behind you to retrieve a thrown sippy cup and no longer the requirement to be “on your game” while behind the wheel.

    Guess what else comes with having a driver?  Someone ELSE cleans up the car.  It is freshly washed first thing in the morning, and several times throughout the day.  The interior is cleaned DAILY.  No more finding rancid cheese sticks or melted fruit snacks.  

    If I’ve had a long night, I can doze on my way back from school drop off.  If I want to read the paper, I can do it in the car.  If I’ve let my purse get out of control, I can simply go through it, en route to the next destination.

    The interesting thing – on the days I choose to look out the window – is that there are loads of other women sharing the same road.
    * *

    Some of them are fellow expats.  It’s obvious that they are expats, though not visually apparent from which country they hail from.  Some (if not most) sit in the same seat as me, eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses, nose buried in a book, or fingers typing an email.  Some appear to be exhausted, succumbed to the daily grind of getting through their days in Delhi.  Head resting in their hand, body slumped.

    Others appear to be actively engaged in discussions with their children, or the fellow female passengers – possibly on their way to a lunch date or a morning coffee.
    * *

    Some of them are young students, crammed into a tiny bus, with brilliant white uniforms (how they keep them white is a secret I may never know).  Hair braided into two braids, tied off with big ribbon bows with oversized barrettes holding back the wayward strands of hair and bangs.

    * *

    One day I saw a very white and very blond woman.  If I had to guess, I’d say she’d only been in the country for a day or two, judging by the paranoid look on her face.  A beggar approached her window, which was rolled down, and pointed out the baby on her hip.  She got aggressive and began holding the baby up physically to the window, speaking to this petrified woman through the open window.
    I could see the look in her eyes, as she glanced towards the rearview mirror – trying to ask the cab driver silently with her stare – to help her.  The air conditioning must not have been working in the cab, and that day the heat was stifling.

    She let tears fall and tried to close her eyes.  Each time she attempted to shut out the drama right outside her window though, her eyes sprang back open.  As if she couldn’t help but look, listen and experience.  The relief on her face as the traffic light turned green, and her cab inched forward, away from that woman and the baby, was evident.

    * *
    I see blue license plated cars, which means its a diplomat’s car.  Is the woman riding solo in that car the diplomat, or is she married to one?  Does she like it here or would she rather return to their last posting?  Does she speak multiple languages and have a road map of history that would take years to tell? 

    * *
    I also sometimes glance out of my window and see a yellow and green rickshaw.  Because of the way they’re constructed, often times you can’t see the passengers inside, only their feet, and their hands – most often folded neatly in their lap, clutching their bags.

    * *

    I see all of these other women … every day.  I’ll most likely never know their stories.

    What if I did know their stories?  Would I take the time to listen?  To offer a bit of advice or a shoulder to lean on?  Would I smile a fake plastered grin and say “yea, lunch sometime sounds nice.”  Would I take the time to really get to know them … if the glass between us wasn’t the barrier, would I bother getting to know them?

    When it’s not convenient to make a friend … do you make the effort anyway?

    (reprinted from Delhi Bound, my blog about our time living in India, 2009-2012)

    Contributed by Naomi Hattaway. After living in several states in the United States, Naomi and her family moved overseas to Delhi, India and then Singapore. Now back in the United States and living in Loudoun County, Virginia, she enjoys making an impact ­ even if only with a small corner of her world ­ for the better. She is the founder of 8th & Home [http://8thandhome.com], a boutique real estate and relocation company and also blogs about relocation, life with itchy feet and living your best life at www.naomihattaway.com

  • 15 Dec 2015 8:57 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Interview with Teja Arboleda

    By Taylor Murray

    Teja Arboleda is a multiethnic global nomad. The author of In the Shadow of Race and founder of Entertaining Diversity Inc., Teja is passionate about teaching cultural diversity and human potential through entertainment. He has spent 26 years creating commercial and educational programs for television and distribution, winning two TELLY awards and one EMMY award. Teja attended the 2015 Families in Global Transition (FIGT) conference as the opening night’s keynote speaker. His funny, engaging, and genuine personality resonated with the FIGT attendees as he presented his popular one-man show Ethnic Man!. Laughter surged through the audience at Teja’s re-enactments of stories relating to his unique heritage and travels abroad. He shared his life story with honesty and transparency, moving his audience as he recalled a poignant moment during his daughters’ adoption with unanticipated tears. In this interview, Teja shares how his background influenced his current work, his passions, and his thoughts on diversity and race.

    Tell me about your background. What have you gained from being of a mixed heritage, ethnicity, and culture? What are some of the losses or challenges?

    That’s quite a big question! Background means so many things. Father’s mother: African-American/ Native American. Father’s father: Filipino-Chinese. Mother is German-Danish. I grew up in Japan and traveled around the world. Brother married to a Brazilian of Japanese descent. Daughters are adopted, Chinese ethnicity, but born in the US. I prefer to say I’m human.

    Being mixed gives me the advantage of being able to fit in more places and situations than most people, also because I’m multilingual and understand how to adapt to different cultural cues and clues. That said, I’ve never really felt like I belonged anywhere – because of what others think of me. Also, having moved and traveled a lot made it difficult to call any one place my home. In addition, my parents divorced when I was 16. I have family all over the world, and I can’t claim allegiance to any particular group, culture or ‘race’.

    Based on your experience, how would you define diversity?

    Diversity is the nature of the universe.

    As a child, all you ever wanted was to be ‘the same’. Growing up, you tirelessly searched to discover your roots. Where have you found your identity now? How has your sense of ‘who you are’ evolved and changed over the years?

    I’m happily married, I love being a dad, I love my town, and I love my work. Also, I’m 52. I don’t care anymore to be the same. Every day is different for me – I breath diversity. That said, I’ve been getting the same tall mocha every day, at the same café, for 16 years.

    What inspired you to establish Entertaining Diversity Inc.? As founder and president, what are your main roles?

    Current Senator Al Franken, once producer and writer for Saturday Night Live, in 1992, gave a speech at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He made some racist and sexist remarks. I challenged him, and then he kept calling me ‘Ethnic Guy’. That night, I took on the stage name Ethnic Man. I left my job as Assistant Director/ Editor for PBS’s Frontline, to take him on. Creating an entertaining way of dealing with diversity issues was and is my mission.

    Your philosophy for Entertaining Diversity Inc. is ‘There is no box’. Explain.

    We get stuck on phrases that are cliché, without thinking about how they really apply to what we mean. The OMB/ Census Bureau puts us in to boxes – race categories, specifically. Race categories are archaic, unhelpful, unfounded, detrimental and even insulting. ‘There is no box’ means that I don’t have to think outside of the box because there isn’t one. I’m not in one, and I won’t put you in one.

    Tell the story behind the creation of Ethnic Man! What have you learned about yourself through sharing your life with others?

    In addition to what I said above, Ethnic Man! was a result of finding a niche solution to pedantic and patronizing approaches to race relations and mediation. I’m an entertainer and producer. This was a way of combining humor, storytelling and drama to open up dialogue about a very contentious and complicated topic. I’ve performed this particular show so many times, and yet it’s always changing… because I change.

    Give a brief description of your book In the Shadow of Race.

    The title suggests being under scrutiny, but also under the auspices of a term that is confining but also empowering. ‘In’ can also imply ‘within’. The book, like Ethnic Man! is an account of how I came to understand who I am in the context of the multicultural worlds around me. It is used in colleges around the country, and many countries. I am currently writing a follow up called In The Shadow of Race, Again. This book is about what happened during the years of my travels, adopting kids and becoming a parent, and watching my parents get older.

    In your book, you encourage readers to focus on discovering who they are more than what they are. What advice would you give on finding your identity in this way?

    ‘What’ is a convoluted word, because on one hand, we can say, “that is a chair”. But there are many kinds of chairs. “Who sits in that chair”, is a question that has story, history and content. “What are you?” is an ignorant question. “Who are you?” invites discussion over tea or coffee, or maybe even a tall mocha.

    How did the experience of writing In the Shadow of Race change you? What was most difficult? What was most rewarding?

    Before laptops and cell phones. Pencil on paper, while sitting in airport terminals, in hotel rooms, on planes and in my offices. In order to write the story I had to travel to many places around the globe, meet with family I know and get to know family I didn’t know I had. What was difficult was trying to get publishers to agree to review it, only to be told, “we’ve published books on the Black experience”. Rewarding was the knowledge that it was really the first of its kind, and a publisher eventually approached me, believing these stories needed to be told.

    What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? What do you hope to accomplish in the future?  

    Continuing to challenge all academic, anthropological, legal and social concepts of identity. I have not had my greatest achievement. For example, I’ve written a movie script, now being adapted to a trilogy sci-fi book series about race that will flip everything on its head.



    For further information visit www.tejaarboleda.com

    For further information on Entertaining Diversity Inc. visit www.entertainingdiversity.com 


    In the Shadow of Race: Growing Up As A Multiethnic, Multicultural, and "Multiracial" American, Teja Arboleda, Routledge, 1998

    This article was edited by Dounia BertuccelliWith thanks to the sponsorship of Summertime Publishing and the Parfitt Pascoe Writing Residency.

  • 07 Dec 2015 6:04 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    photo care of access.nl

    By Lauren Owen

    It’s always exciting to meet the person behind the book that changed your life.

    Maybe this is an exaggeration, but in the world of global nomad literature, it’s not too far off from the truth. For global nomads and expats, there’s something extra exhilarating about seeing your feelings described in precise detail by someone you’ve never met or to read about someone across the globe whose experience mirrors your own.

    That’s what it felt like during the Families in Global Transition (FIGT) book signing event.

    The book signing brought together all attendees of the FIGT conference and provided the opportunity to interact with people who have shared their expat voices for the sake of the global community.

    Authors Across Ages

    One aspect that made this event particularly unique was the breadth of ages, experiences, and topics addressed. Among the authors present were Keynote speaker Doug Ota, whose recently published book Safe Passage addresses the educational support systems necessary for global nomads; Marilyn Gardner whose recently published memoir Between Worlds showcases a beautifully written TCK experience; and 2015 Parfitt/ Pascoe Writing Residency (PPWR) scholar Taylor Murray, whose book Hidden In My Heart, published at age 14, tells the honest story of crossing cultures to Japan.

    Behind each author’s writing is a passion to serve expats. When asked about her book, Taylor commented that she, “never intended to be published... [but] wanted people to understand that they are not alone.” For this young writer, a personal journey became a way to help others through what might be a similar experience.

    A Book for Every Season

    Not only did authors range in ages and purpose, but so did book topics. Brittani Sonnenberg’s book Home Leave represented the novel genre. Linda Janssen had compiled her most recent research into the book The Emotionally Resilient Expat, which was just one of several other research-based books available.

    Trisha Carter and Rachel Yates’s book Finding Home Abroad showed their desire to help expats process the transition experience by providing a carefully crafted journal. The text they included prompts writers to journal their thoughts through each stage of the move, as well as describing why they feel a certain way at each stage.

    Books were not the only items available for purchase – Anne Copeland presented collections of Reflection Photos. This set of 100 photos is intended to help people process transition by reflecting on their reactions to pictures.

    What Books?

    Books sold at the FIGT conference must meet specific criterion in order to be eligible. These criterion include:

    1.      Written by an FIGT member or conference speaker
    2.      Published in the year prior to the conference

    Even though the book signing at FIGT ended after an hour, the resources present in the bookstore are available online via Amazon or the FIGT online bookstore.

    Books highlighted at FIGT included:

    • B at Home, Valérie Besanceney, Summertime Publishing, 2014
    • Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere, Lois Bushong, Mango Tree Intercultural Services, 2013
    • Finding Home Abroad, Trisha Carter and Rachel Yates, Summertime Publishing, 2014
    • Between Worlds, Marilyn Gardner, Doorlight Publications, 2014
    • Slurping Soup and Other Confusions, Gemmer, Wilshire, Afnan Ahmad et al, Summertime Publishing, 2013
    • The Emotionally Resilient Expat, Linda Janssen, Summertime Publishing, 2013
    • Hidden in My Heart, Taylor Murray, BottomLine Media, 2013
    • Arrivals, Departures and the Adventures In-Between, Christopher O’Shaughnessy, Summertime Publishing, 2014
    • Safe Passage: How Mobility Affects People and What International Schools Should Do About It, Doug Ota, Summertime Publishing, 2014
    • The Worlds Within, an Anthology of TCK Art and Writing: Young, Global and Between Cultures, edited by Jo Parfitt and Eva László-Herbert, Summertime Publishing 2014
    • Insights and Interviews from the 2014 Families in Global Transition Conference: The Global Family Redefined, edited by Jo Parfitt, Sue Mannering, and Dounia Bertuccelli, Summertime Publishing, 2015
    • Expat Teens Talk, Dr. Lisa Pittman and Diana Smit, Summertime Publishing, 2012
    • The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition, Tina L. Quick, Summertime Publishing, 2010
    • Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child, Julia Simens, Summertime Publishing, 2011
    • Letters Never Sent, Ruth Van Reken, Summertime Publishing, 2012



    For further information on Families in Global Transition www.figt.org

    To order books available at the conference visit www.figt.org/page-1291451

    For books specific to expats and TCKs visit www.summertimepublishing.com


    This article was edited by Dounia BertuccelliWith thanks to the sponsorship of Summertime Publishing and the Parfitt Pascoe Writing Residency.

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