FIGT member Doreen Cumberford reports on her experience attending FIGT2022, a conference that is a "banquet for the global soul!"
By Doreen Cumberford
The FIGT conference 2022 felt to me, much like a banquet for the global soul! From the title of the conference, “Where do we go from here” all the way through to the closing session there seemed to be a constant conversation between where are we now and where would we love to go. I very got the sense that we were like bobble toys balanced and grounded on the bottom but slightly unsteady on top as we considered a wide variety of topics, we were in motion and constantly pivoting.
The question for the weekend was of course designed to invite us into the next great possibility. It could be answered in many ways from the personal, as applied to groups, in collaborations and as an organization as a whole.
There was a mixture of surprise and great delight in observing us all discover the Kumospace interface. It was like watching a group of international kids discover a play gym. We shared spaces, made dates, met each other in the bar, the cafe, the lobby, the lounges, and the pool. The bookstore was a fun place to meet up it was thrilling to see all the offerings in the global mobility lanes. I laughed when I heard plans for an airport lounge and sleeping pods next year – what fun to look forward to.
We clicked on drinks, grabbed a doughnut, moved over to make the piano play, made the fire crackle, and generally enjoyed a level of fun that is rarely found at online conferences. I believe this delight and playfulness compensated for many of us still grieving the loss of in-person gatherings – it also created a sense of joy and relief at being together.
This sense of fun also served to balance our more challenging subjects which we as a community bring to the table. The pandemic, complicated grief, trauma, mental health, transitions, loneliness, and fear were all tackled with sensitivity and compassion. On the other hand, well-being, renewal, resiliency, thriving, self-soothing and bridge building were offered with optimism and grace.
As a community it seems like we continue to explore the differing stages and very diverse experiences of geographical diversity as economies and cultures respond, reopen, and rebuild. Our personal stories of dislocation, separation and upheaval were heart-breaking on many levels, yet I always felt that kind ears were present, willing hearts were open and gut level empathy leaked out of us and flowed like a river from room to room.
In answer to the big question of Where do we go from here? I heard commitment and determination take many forms. From “we go forward to a new normal”, to “name the losses”, “Keep telling our stories”, “deploy empathy”, “disrupt then unpack”, “get curious instead of furious”, “shift our language” and “continue to reframe and reflect”. Ladies and gentlemen strap on your seatbelts because we have much to do!
Meeting new people and reconnecting with so many from past FIGTs was delightful, soul food at its best! If nothing else FIGT demonstrated that we are all walking, breathing humans seeking a world that works for all while constantly healing as we go along. I look forward to us opening the tent to consider subjects like rewirement, retirement and repatriation.
This global hearted banquet was served in various courses through deep dives, kitchen table conversations, keynotes and say-it-in-fives. The familiar structure mixed with a dash of innovation and fresh perspectives certainly fed my soul, stimulated my brain and stories constantly reminded me of the preciousness of being human. I look forward to reviewing many of the sessions and the list of books to order is a smorgasbord to enjoy.
If I were an alien from another planet and had arrived at this conference with little preparation I believe I would have left with the idea that planet earth was in very good hands!
Doreen Cumberford works with expats, global nomads and returnees to create happier, easier and more successful transitions while globally mobile.
A Certified Coach, and 30 year licensed Practitioner, Doreen speaks, writes and teaches about the principles and practices necessary to navigate global mobility while maintaining vitality through health and well-being.
The author of Life in the Camel Lane, Arriving Well and Home Again, Home Again – Jiggedy jig she is currently compiling her second book on Repatriation.
A native of Scotland, her experience in 8 overseas postings over 3 plus decades, on 4 continents have enabled her to constantly create new lifestyles and trained her to constantly move with ease and grace.
Doreen helps globally mobile people master transitions, relocate well and find joy in-between.