Jodi Harris joined the FIGT board for the 2019-2020 term. She talks with us about her role and aspirations for FIGT, and shares a beautiful story about her family’s “space box”.
Can you please briefly describe your FIGT role?
As Vice President, I'm a member of the Executive Committee. I support the President and serve as her backup when needed. I am FIGTs go-to person for organizational bylaws. I help keep an eye on our finances and support the Board in adopting and maintaining best practices.
I oversee the Research & Education Director and Affiliate Director Board roles and support those directors in meeting their goals. I also work closely with the Membership and Sponsorship Directors to help them in broadening and diversifying our global community and outreach.
What inspired you to stand for this particular office?
The short answer is that I believe passionately in the role that FIGT plays in supporting and advocating for the globally mobile community and I wanted to play a more active role in that mission.
When it comes to the role of Vice President, I looked at what I thought I could bring to the table. I love connecting people and creating community. I enjoy being a cheerleader for the globally mobile and I have a lot of energy and passion for getting the word out about what FIGT offers. The VP role felt like the perfect fit.
Anything you particularly hope to accomplish this year? What do you look forward to?
I am super excited about the FIGT Conference 2020! This will be our second year in Bangkok and I'm really looking forward to seeing the ways in which we're able to build on the energy of last year's first conference in Asia.
In my role as VP, I have a mantra that I'm keeping in the forefront of my mind: no globally mobile person should NOT know about FIGT.
My goal is to outreach, talk, share and connect as much as I can so that we bring even more people under our umbrella.
Your favorite thing about being a part of FIGT?
Community. I love the FIGT community! There is nothing quite like that feeling of being in a room with people who instantly get your experience.
And, because technology connects us so well with people all over the world, the FIGT community is stronger than ever!
Even if you can't make it to the conference every year, you can still join an affiliate, connect personally and professionally with people, and contribute to the conversation online.
FIGT is a place with open arms and you feel that no matter how you get involved.
Can you share a random piece of info about yourself please?
My husband and I first met in the summer of 1998. I was just starting my senior year of university after a year abroad in Spain. He had graduated a couple years earlier and had been traveling in Europe and doing some work in Austin (where we're from). By the time I graduated in May 1999, we were headed together to Japan to teach English. It was a time of great transition and the beginning of our life around the world, together.
I remember one night we were having this conversation about feeling homeless — excited for our future and all of the adventures we were having, but also feeling a sense of not having a space to call our own, a place that really felt like home.
At one point in the conversation, he said something like, "I just don't feel like I have a space. I have nowhere to collect my things or unpack what I've acquired."
A few days later I was out shopping and I saw this beautiful little box. In my head I started imagining what it would be like to visualize all the places we'd been — the memories, the sights, the sounds, the smells — in one place.
I bought the box and presented it to him as his "space box" — a way to ritualize the coming and going, to collect what you're leaving and carry it forward to the next home. Soon after, he bought one for me.
All these years later (twenty years!) we still have the same space boxes. It's a ritual that we honor with each move — the boxes stay open the entire time we live somewhere, collecting the memories.
When it's time to move, in a moment of silence and reflection, we mentally collect our memories and then close the box. When we arrive in our new home, we do the ritual in reverse — releasing the memories of the old home into the new one.
Please share some words of wisdom for FIGT members and globally mobile people in general!
The world is complex. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to look around and see so much that needs attention, nurturing and perspective. As globally mobile people, we're in a unique position to speak from a broad and diverse perspective.
And yet, it's too much for any one person to take on individually. We are all better when we seek to connect and create community across borders and when we work together to make the world a better place for everyone.
I think our international perspective is a gift we share with the world; FIGT provides a way for you to do that with others, in the spirit of understanding and solidarity.
So step up and step in — together!
You can learn more about Jodi in the Board Member bios section. FIGT members can also see her presentation on "Cultivating Stillness in a Fast Moving World" (FIGT2019). Stay tuned for more from our new 2019-2020 board members!