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Kitchen Table Conversations (Set One)  Thursday, March 8   15:00-15:45
Kitchen Table Conversations (Set Two)  Friday, March 9  16:15-17:00
Kitchen Table Conversations (Set Three)  Saturday, March 10  13:45-14:30

  • Kitchen Table Conversations are informal 45-minute small group discussions around a table, reminiscent of the original discussions around Ruth Van Reken’s kitchen table that led to the founding of FIGT. These are lively, interactive conversations around a focused, practical topic. Choose one of 12.
Kitchen Table Conversations (Set One)
Thursday, March 8, 2018 | 15:00-15:45

Embrace Diversity - Thrive Abroad: Navigating fearless, curious and courageous your global nomadic life

Cornelia Asanger-Lexa

This workshop will allow you to gain new insights and abilities in navigating your life in a new country. You will learn about the Lewis Model and find how your true values and identities blend in it and see how they may have changed over the years and countries. In a safe, fun and stimulating environment, you will be guided through practical illustrations, and by working in small groups, you will gain new skills that can be quickly used to have an immediate impact on your global life.

Therapy Dogs: Working their magic

George Berger

Try as we might, it seems impossible to fully explain the tremendous emotional bond between people and dogs. It just seems that we were "meant for each other." Some call it "magic!" This session explores the training and many, many applications of therapy dog teams, especially those that are relevant to families in global transition. From helping in making psychological/emotional adjustments to assisting in bi-lingual reading programs to merely providing comfort and stability in changing times, therapy dogs can play a significant role.

Seven Tips Every non-native-English speaking expat should know: What it takes to adapt and thrive, anywhere

Sandra Bissell

In this Kitchen Table Conversation, you will see the results of 50 interviews of non-native-English-speaking expatriates, describing what worked for them when living internationally. We will share the seven steps for successful international living. Participants will continue discussions online throughout the year, in an attempt to gather more information about the non-native-English-speaking group.

Stories Connect Us: How parents and volunteers can use story-telling, art and play to help children navigate transition

Jeanne Riether

Stories connect us, and they can be used to help children successfully navigate difficult life transitions. When families move across the globe, it can be both an exciting and uncertain experience. Jeanne teaches parents and volunteers to use storytelling, art, puppets and play to help children build resilience, relieve stress and find connection during times of unsettling change. A storytelling demonstration, "The Tale of the Caterpillar," focuses on how change can make us stronger, and an art worksheet, "What Animal Do You Feel Like?" helps children express their feelings. Families, teachers, and international volunteers learn valuable skills that will help children during a transition, disaster, or personal crisis.

The Art of a ‘Good’ Good-bye – and What Constitutes a Meaningful and Effective Farewell to Family, Friends, and Places

Emma Vijayaratnam

I wonder if anyone enjoys saying goodbye or farewell to a friend or loved one? Or to a country that you have come to love? We all know how impossibly hard it can be -- both the anticipation and the reality. Emma will identify and discuss three different types of "goodbye" that we all have in our lives, what constitutes a GOOD and meaningful goodbye and how to carry it out with dignity and grace.

The Art of Globally Mobile Lives: exploring identity and belonging

Catherine Brew

We all have an internal dialogue with ourselves. At times it's helpful, other times it's not. And since it's private, we tend not to share it. Add an international move, loss of professional identity and illness to the mix and you can suddenly find that the adventure you set out on is now swathed in darkness you never expected. Catherine started drawing. Now, with 100 'globally mobile lives' drawings and a book under her belt, Catherine is a different person altogether. She believes that drawings have a profound ability to process complex thoughts and feelings and transform them in ways we often can't verbalize. This session will explore the power of drawing through her journey, and offer hope for other global people in similar situations.

Ten Strategies to Create a Thriving Cross-Cultural Relationship

Kyoung Mi Choi

In cross-cultural relationships, we often learn about the partner's language, history, and culture, as well as develop a sense of interconnectedness to others. Healthy and loving cross-cultural couples are curious about their partner's culture and are aware of their assumptions and biases about how things should be in a relationship. This session provides ten strategies to support cross-cultural couples to develop culturally mindful and respectful verbal and nonverbal communication styles, value systems, interaction patterns, and conflict-management skills, as well as co-create a mutual relationship vision.
Coping As A Trailing Spouse and New Mother When No One Around You Speaks Your Language: A unique perspective

Shweta Ganesh Kumar

The session addresses the challenges of being a trailing spouse and new mother, as a member of a minority within an expat community. Sometimes one moves to locations where one's ethnicity is an unknown quantity. You walk in and are immediately branded the foreigner. This is more of a challenge for new Expat mothers looking for support systems. What do you do when you want to blend in, but you do not wish to become culturally invisible either? Do you give up on your identity and assimilate or hold on so tightly that you are left an outsider? The presentation will draw from the speaker's personal experience as an Indian Malayali Expat who moved to El Salvador with her husband and infant daughter. Participants will leave with strategies to cope and thrive in their new environment.

Creating a Global Mindset and Raising Diversity Awareness in Children While Still Living in Their Home Country

Flor Garcia

Let's discuss the importance of raising global children within non-expat, non-immigrant families. We will achieve real diversity acceptance when we raise kids to be tolerant of different cultures even though they haven't had the chance to travel abroad. It is difficult it to promote global awareness in our kids when we don't have the tools to do it. We, Venezuelans, like many other nationalities, were never raised to leave the country and now we face the reality of raising sons and daughters to be cross-cultural so they can be prepared for a better future that can be only found abroad.
Learning to Speak Military: The deciphering lexicon of an Air Force Brat

Clifford Gardner

Children of military personnel are often called Military Brats. Were you raised as one or know of one? This session will introduce the linguistic notion of code-switching that Military Brats learn, use and propagate during their upbringing around the globe. Their lexicon can switch between civilian talk and military talk just as easily as entering and exiting a military base. Come and learn about this phenomenon and how it can aid the adult Military Brat as they navigate new environments.
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 Kitchen Table Conversations
(Set Two)
  Friday, March 9, 2018 | 16:15-17:00

Engaging Ambiguity: How learning to Not-Know brings us closer to understanding others (and ourselves) in a diverse world

Jodi Harris

Learning to engage ambiguity (to become curious about not knowing) provides an incredible tool for connecting more deeply with the diverse groups of people we encounter, problem-solving in culturally complex situations and surviving in an unpredictable, internationally mobile lifestyle. This interactive session will take us up-close and personal with what it means to engage ambiguity. We'll discuss how we find the balance between finding answers and maintaining a sense of curiosity through ongoing engagement. Join the discussion and take away a newfound appreciation for all the times you simply have no idea what's going on.

Breaking a Living Silence: Hazara women experience in workplace

Zainab Hussaini

Zainab Hussaini has a more in-depth look at educated Hazara women's lives through their professional journey in Afghanistan via a transnational feminist autoethnographic lens based on her own lived experience and observations in the workplace in Afghanistan. Before returning to Afghanistan as an Afghan (Hazara) refugee born and raised in Iran, Zainab found it easier to call herself an "Afghan," due to discriminatory policies and attitudes in Iran. She discovered that Hazara women experience overlapping oppressions tremendously and at a level that takes their sense of belonging to Afghanistan away. Therefore, Zainab decided to talk for herself and to give a voice to a more marginalized group of women in Afghanistan.

The Transition That Never Ends: Exploring starting, staying and leaving well

Jerry Jones

The beginning and end of a cross-cultural experience are massive life transitions. However, an often-missed reality is that everything in between those two experiences are filled with transition as well. The transition never ends. In this session, we'll explore the nuances of ceaseless transition from the perspective of hundreds of interviews with people from every point in the process. We will discuss practical ways for starting, staying and leaving well as well as a framework for leaders to support their teams. We will also consider a way to leverage the strength of newcomers, veterans, and leavers as an encouragement to each other.
Keeping the Love Alive and Communication Positive in an International Mixed Relationship/Marriage

Ar'nie Rozah Krogh

How do we maintain a loving, tight and stable relationship when the environment and the ground beneath us keep moving and changing? Do the rules of love change or is it our communication style that needs changing to maintain that equilibrium? How do we keep being patient and understanding when others don't? Why is it important to maintain great communication in a relationship and even more when you're a global nomad? In this session, Ar'nie will share the keys and research learned as a global nomad wife and mum.
How to Keep your Languages Alive while Living Abroad

Ute Limacher-Riebold

Many international families struggle to maintain their heritage language if it is not among the most dominant ones. What seems an easy task for the first years of a child can become a real challenge once the children attend daycares and schools who don't provide sufficient support in the other language. In this session, Ute will draw on her experience as Language Consultant and expert in bilingualism and deliver a successful strategy that helps parents make sure their heritage languages will not be lost on the way.

Disability and Culture

Uwe Maurer

This session will explore how different cultures view special needs. Our international community benefits tremendously when families that have children with special needs are included. That said, it does not come without its challenges. Participants in this session will receive practical suggestions for parents who are currently overseas or are planning on relocating shortly as well as for teachers and caregivers whose children may be affected.

From Expat To Flexpat: A new way of living and working globally

Dominika Miernik

This interactive discussion will focus on a new way of living and working internationally as a flexpat. Dominika Miernik will share her own experience about her transition from expat to flexpat. She will explain what are the practical and effective steps you can take to build a successful flexpat career and experience. You will discover what is the difference between expat, flexpat and digital nomad, what questions you must ask yourself before starting this kind of lifestyle to avoid failure, what are the main challenges of living as a flexpat and how to overcome them.

"The Caterpillar Club" A social story and club for children transitioning

Victoria Ford

The Caterpillar Club: a social story and club designed to help children transition with empowerment. The club incorporates the principles of Choice Theory by William Glasser.

Safe Passage Across Networks (SPAN): How to help your school community thrive through transitions

Ryan Haynes and Claudine Hakim

This session will inform attendees of recent developments with Safe Passage Across Networks and its vision for the future. Attendees are invited to provide feedback on what they would like to see from SPAN in the future. SPAN aims to relight the fire that was ignited at the pre-conference last year and to promote an engaging conversation about transitions that will inspire attendees to continue within and between school communities. 

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    Kitchen Table Conversations (Set Three)

     Saturday, March 10, 2018 | 13:45-14:30

The Uninvited Guest Abroad: When illness comes to visit

Carolyn Parse Rizo and Vivian Chiona

Often invisible and always uninvited, illness and other health conditions in the expat community can leave individuals and families feeling isolated, fearful, overwhelmed and misunderstood. It is time to break the silence and isolation for those living abroad and crossing cultures with health conditions. Whether you are the patient, the parent, the partner, or expect to be a caregiver in the future, this session will encourage and empower you to explore, reflect, mentor, and build a network for yourself and your family members. Participants will discuss the unique needs, roadblocks, and challenges within this diverse and resourceful community, as well as ways in which to take a proactive stance, build resilience and vitality, and celebrate the strength of spirit.

The Importance of Local Expatriate Groups in Your Host Country

Ximena Reyes

A Kitchen Table Conversation in which you will gain knowledge about various local expat groups and their distinct approaches to settling successfully in a new country. From sisterhood programs to language-based mini-groups, these examples will emphasize ways to build your emotional resilience during periods of transition, and to connect with like-minded fellow expatriates.

What About the Stayers?

Sharon Ronan

Learn from a seasoned international school counselor on how to help the Stayers flourish while their peers make transitions. Sharon will share relevant tips and give many strategies to be a resilient Stayer in spite of the many losses of relationships as others come and go.
Cultural Diversity: A key ingredient for the new global identity

Dania Santana

What do you think about when you hear the term "cultural diversity?" Does it excite or scare you? With the ongoing demographic changes worldwide, it's time to examine identity and how cultural diversity is shaping a world that is increasingly polyethnic and multiracial. In this session, attendees will find out how to step out the "us versus them" narratives with practical tips to foster dialogue among people of diverse backgrounds. We will learn conversation starters to talk about race and religion, discover the tangible benefits of diversity at the local, regional and global levels, as well as advice on how to raise children to embrace cultural diversity and develop a global mentality.
The Bittersweet Comfort of the Past – Dealing with a CCK’s Nostalgia

Katharina von Dessien

In this Kitchen Table Conversation, Katha von Dessien invites you to join a conversation about nostalgia. Many CCKs struggle with the longing for who they were at a specific time and place. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just go back? We will take a look at what history can teach us about dealing with nostalgia before we want to share experiences and listen to each other's stories.
Birthing TCK's with love (not fear)

Karen Wilmot

Pregnancy and childbirth has not changed in the last millennium. However, there are many things associated with childbirth that have changed, including: More global mobility of families (= more TCKs). Also, Healthcare systems and the economics of childbirth - Vast amount of (mis)information available online - Parents' expectations of childbirth - Pain management options - The technology used during pregnancy and birth to name a few. To a large extent, the function of the family and community has been replaced by online support groups, forums, Facebook pages and Google Hangouts. With demographic and physical differences obscured, a sense of "groupness" evolves, easily offering 24-hour availability, anonymity and selectivity in responding. The challenge for the future of this globally mobile generation is to learn how to harness the power of the internet by being digitally aware.
Returning to work after a baby? Challenges, expectations, knowledge, and growth all around today’s mums

Angela Fusaro

Returning to work after a maternity break often brings challenges and requires a new balance inside and outside the home. Expectations, confidence, support or lack of it are essential in the transition. Of course, each story is different: What works in one situation might not work in the other. Companies and society influence matters like parental leave, flexibility, work-life balance and more. In a digital, global and uncertain world, why is it important to invest in mum's talent? What are the skills, knowledge, and competencies that mums bring to the game? And how can we use them to improve our workplaces and the society? The session is for families, companies, business owners and professionals looking for growth… So not just mums.
Making You the Glue: Building resilience in the global community

Patti McCarthy

The Boy Scout motto 'Be Prepared' is never more relevant than in preparing people for an overseas assignment. As expats, we should all be able to celebrate our past assignments, our present engagements, and our exciting futures. The reality is, though, that for approximately 40 percent of us, our future is something we embark upon with naivete, our present is something to be endured, and our past is something we would rather forget. Learn how we can change that with a simple coaching model -- Rewards, Research, Reflect & Reach Out -- which chips the sugarcoating off the pitch and prepares expats who are ready and able to cope with both the cultural challenges and the emotional roller coaster they are about to embark on.
History in the Making

Sarah Bringhurst Familia, Meghann Ormond and Lucille Abendanon

We all have personal stories of our lives abroad, and most of us end up at least informally documenting those stories in some way, whether in journals, blogs, letters, emails, or even on Facebook or Twitter. But did you know that academic researchers in a variety of fields have an interest in our international lives? In this session, the Expatriate Archive Centre (EAC) presents a conversation with the EAC's Director, a researcher, and an expat blogger working on an exciting new project. They talk about why your story is essential, what researchers are looking for, different ways you can make your story available for research, and how that research can improve all our lives.

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