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 expatriates and cross cultural individuals and their families. Contributions are a privilege for Small Business and Corporate membership levels only and you can submit up to 3 posts per year. Please use our online form below to submit a blog for consideration or contact blogeditor@figt.org.

  • 20 Feb 2021 12:08 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    When you grow up in countries outside of your passport country, the difficulties of repatriation can blindside you. Adult TCK Jessi Vance reminds TCKs to dip into your TCK superpowers to get through that transition.

    By Jessi Vance

    I could swear in three other languages before I learned the same words in my “passport” language. While a fun party trick now, in my international middle school this was as normal as eating a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich with chopsticks. Which may sound far from normal if you’ve never met a Third Culture Kid (TCK), but for us it was entirely commonplace. 

    Third Culture Kids are a blend of the countries they have inhabited during their developmental years and for my U.S.-born, Uzbekistan-raised thirteen-year-old self, I had lived more of those in my host countries. 

    I was entering seventh grade the year my parents decided to spend some significant time in what they called our “home” country. American was what I learned from L.L. Bean catalogs and Little House on the Prairie reruns. American was the jars of peanut butter we kept stashed away and the smell of my grandmother’s closet. American was a title I clung to when I felt out of place in the country I called “home” — Uzbekistan — different from the country my parents identified with. 

    A Foreigner at “Home”

    America was more foreign to this cross-cultural kid than jostling with brightly colored shoulders that shunned the need for Western deodorant in a bazaar overflowing with cumin dust, smoked sage, and fresh bread. America was as strange as wearing seat belts and putting ice in drinks. 

    However, no one mentioned this to me. Instead, I joined my seventh-grade peers for the first day of school, oblivious to my foreign self and assuming that my navy and eagle-embossed passport carried the magic of finally fitting in without any questions asked. 

    I walked into my first day of school with a lot of assumptions. I, like most TCKs do, assumed that my outsides, the parts of me that matched the other thirteen-year-olds lining up on either side of me, would mean I matched inside too. I assumed that my freckled nose and the mostly American accent I owned would equal diplomatic immunity in the middle-school pecking order. 

    I assumed that because I called myself American, because I’d been told this was my home and because my parents belonged here, that I also belonged. I assumed that the belonging that had evaded my years of being a grayscale foreigner in a vibrant land would finally fade. 

    As it turned out, the azure of Uzbek mosques and the indigo of sun-drenched grapes had soaked beneath my skin. I was too colorful to fit in here. 

    I didn’t tuck my school uniform the right way, I didn’t drool at the name of popular boy bands (I didn’t even know the difference between them!). I told stories that began, “When I was living in…,” identified more with differences than similarities, and didn’t know the rules of the culture, like how girls who were just friends didn’t hold hands.  

    The day I learned an English swear word I was in the back of a small Speech & Debate class listening to a mediocre rendition of “How I Organize My Closet.” The boy was labeling items on the whiteboard as he spoke, and when he got to “shirt,” he spelled it s - h - i - t. 

    The classroom erupted in laughter. The teacher sent him to the principal’s office. I sat there absolutely terrified to go next considering that I had just learned that in this crazy country you got in trouble for spelling a word wrong! 

    I was so awkward. So innocent. So out of place. So Russian. So deeply “other.” I held an American passport and a very American name, but that was it. 

    It was actually a few years later that I put two and two together and realized the laughter and punishment weren't for a spelling error, but for what he had spelled. It was around the same time that I realized if I were to survive another year in my passport country, I needed to change my approach. 

    Tapping into TCK skills

    The thing is, as a TCK, I hadn’t just inherited a complex identity. I had also gained the skills to adapt to a new culture. I had watched and learned and assimilated into a new school environment many times. I was confident on public transportation, good at communication, and a natural haggler. 

    I had learned more than a second language —  I had learned how to belong anywhere. Why was it that I let my learned experiences and international identity abandon me when faced with a classroom of American peers? 

    The popular 2004 movie, Mean Girls portrays the main character and TCK, Kady, comparing her new classmates to her experience of safari wildlife. She used the skills she had to understand a whole new form of wild beasts. It’s satirical, but a point any TCK anticipating repatriation should take note of.

    • Assume your passport country is as foreign as the next one.

    • Don’t assume that a shared language equals fluency in slang or etiquette.

    • As always, observe before acting.

    • Flex the adaptability muscles you’ve worked so hard to build and take your time learning this “new” culture.

    • Find community with other international or minority students.

    Dear TCK, or those of you raising one, if you’re anticipating repatriation, give yourself patience. Give yourself time for the natural progression of cultural assimilation to take place without the pressure of the things you “should” know or understand. 

    Jessi Vance grew up in Uzbekistan and graduated from Hope International University with a specialized degree in Third Culture Kid Care and a desire to help families just like hers who were spending their most formative years between cultures. In 2013, Jessi founded Kaleidoscope, a non-profit committed to seeing TCKs not just survive but thrive. She channels all of her creative energy into new and exciting ways to engage TCKs, wherever they are in the world. Jessi is a 2020 David C. Pollock Scholar. Read her profile here, or find her on Instagram @jessi_rue or @kldscp.

  • 16 Feb 2021 1:13 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    FIGT2021 Games bring a little extra fun to the virtual conference.


    While we cannot be physically present together at this year's conference, the FIGT team has been hard at work putting together a lot of ways for everyone to connect throughout the event.

    From our very first welcome session on March 7th to our closing ceremony on March 14th, you'll be able to contribute and interact during conference sessions by live text chat. There will also be Community Rooms during our main conference weekend, where you can join small groups and chat through both text and video. You can catch up with old friends and make new ones by text and also chat privately with each other.

    As well as this, we wanted to add something just for fun and so we are launching the FIGT Games. For taking part in the conference in different ways, you can collect points, earn tags for your online profile, and even win prizes.

    Once you get your unique email login for the conference platform on March 5th, you’ll be automatically entered into the Games.

    To win points in the Games, search and collect game codes by engaging with all parts of the conference experience. For example, by reading this blog you are now learning that the code READTHEFIGTBLOG is a game code that will earn you 50 points! When you log into the conference platform, go to the FIGT Games section and enter that code to have 50 points added to your account. You'll also see the leaderboard, and your position in the Games. 

    When you first log in, you'll notice the tag "Starting line" attached to your profile. As you accumulate more points, you'll be upgraded to new tags. 

    On top of this, there are some fantastic prizes on offer for a people who earn the most points. At three different times, the top few people on the leaderboard will be announced as prize winners. These times will be during the opening session on March 12th, during the closing session on March 14th, and a week after the conference closes. You can keep earning points after the live portion of the conference is over--all content will be accessible for six months after the live conference ends. 

    FIGT Games information, including the rules (and lots of hints and clues to get you started on the hunt for codes and points), will be available in the FIGT Membership booth in the exhibition hall of the virtual platform. So, when you get your login for the conference, remember to go in and add the new code you learned here, then visit our Membership Booth to get the information you need to compete successfully in the FIGT Games.

    Let the fun and games begin!

    For more information about FIGT 2021 Annual Conference and how to register, click here.

  • 15 Feb 2021 8:40 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    FIGT2021 is our first virtual conference! So what can you expect from it? Logistics Director Tanya Crossman and Programs Director Stephen answer some questions. 

    what to expect at figt2021 virtual conference

    We are excited to host the annual FIGT conference virtually for the first time (12-14 March 2021) — but we are sure you have many questions about what to expect. We asked Logistics Director Tanya Crossman and Program Director Stephen Toole how the conference is being set up to make sure your experience is the best possible. 

    Who can participate in FIGT2021? 

    The conference is designed for anyone who is globally mobile or works to support those who are. It’s open to everyone, both FIGT members and non-members.


    Can I simply show up or is registration required?

    You will need to register for the conference in advance to attend. Closer to the conference date, you will receive the details to access the conference site.

    The closing date for registration is March 10.

    Once you are registered for the conference, you do not have to pre-register for specific sessions; you can just show up. 


    So how will the FIGT virtual conference work? 

    Over 12-14 March 2021, there will be three live conference sessions (“days”), each four hours long, with concurrent presentations. We’ve staggered the times of the three sessions so that at least two should fall in your time zone.

    Each four-hour session will have a variety of events, many of which will include a live Q&A text chat you can participate in. There will be ways to connect with other attendees outside the sessions and engage in text and video chats. More on that below!

    In the lead-up to the conference weekend, we will have two welcome sessions on Sunday, March 7, and from Monday, March 8, to Thursday, March 11, two Forum sessions a day (again, more on that below).

    You can check the full conference schedule for specific times.

    After the sessions take place, the recordings will be available on-demand for six months afterwards, so you can go back and explore at your leisure.


    Do I have to download an app?

    No, you don’t need to download an app. You can access the content via a web browser (Chrome is recommended). This means it will work better from a desktop or laptop computer, rather than from your phone.

    Some sessions may use Zoom; you will be redirected from the conference platform if that’s the case.


    What kind of events can I expect at a virtual conference? Will FIGTs signature Kitchen Table Discussions be available virtually?

    We have tried to honor the FIGT conference format while at the same time creating something new.

    ▶ Lead-up to the Conference: Forums

    As mentioned above, we will kick off the lead-up to the conference with two welcome sessions on Sunday, March 7.

    And from Monday, March 8, to Thursday, March 11, we’ll have two Forums a day. Targeting specific audiences within the FIGT community, Forums will be 60-minute sessions with multiple presenters and plenty of discussion time.

    ▶ During the Conference

    The conference will offer many kinds of presentation and discussion formats. Most will be followed by a moderated live Q&A that you can take part in. 

    • Daily Keynote Presentations. Be inspired by speakers Ezinne Okoro, Ragil Ratnam, and Danau Tanu!

    • Power Panels: 40 minutes of presentation by panelists followed by 10 minutes of moderated Q&A. This year, there are two Power Panels.

    • Power Presentations: 30-minute presentations on a single topic with one or more presenters, followed by a 10-minute moderated Q&A. There will be six sets of Power Presentations (two on each of the three conference “days”).

    • Lightning Presentations: Fun and inspiring talks based on a powerful question or idea. The speakers are accompanied by 20 image-based slides, advancing automatically every 18 seconds. The Lightning Sessions will be held on the third “day” of FIGT2021.

    • Guided Discussions: 15 minutes of presented content (no PowerPoints), followed by a 25-minute discussion on the topic, guided and moderated by the presenter(s). These are the virtual take on FIGT’s popular Kitchen Table Discussions, inspired by the original discussions around Ruth Van Reken’s kitchen table that led to the start of FIGT. There will be three sets of Guided Discussions over the three conference “days.”

    • Poster Presentations: 3.5 minutes of content to display ideas worth spreading. They will run at specific times on all 3 “days.”

    Please explore the full schedule.


    One of the wonderful aspects of an FIGT conference is the many opportunities to connect with like-minded people. How will networking work virtually?

    At an in-person conference, we can connect with anyone through the conference app, and that same opportunity exists in the virtual conference. You can look up individuals you are interested in connecting with and send them messages through the conference platform.

    • There will be text chat functions in the public “virtual lobby” of the conference site as well as in every conference session. Every time you are watching a presentation, you will have the opportunity to contribute and interact via text chat. 

    The trickier part is recreating the community feel that is such an integral part of the FIGT conference experience.

    • For this, there will be Coffee & Connect rooms that function as coffee lounges, where text and video chats mirror the experience of meeting up with old friends and new over food and drinks. These Coffee & Connect rooms will be hosted by specific entities working with FIGT.

      These community rooms will open at specific times, both before and after the weekend sessions, to make sure that no matter what time zone you are in, there will be an opportunity for you to connect with others.

    A lot of time, energy, thought and care has gone into crafting opportunities for community building and connection. We hope that you will agree they are more than mere corporate networking but feel like FIGT’s “reunion of strangers” experience, in a virtual context.

    We will also be introducing the FIGT2021 Games, so look out for more information on another way to have fun and connect with others during the conference!

    FIGT is excited to welcome you to our first virtual conference. We look forward to connecting with you!

  • 14 Feb 2021 12:00 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Families in Global Transition is excited to shine the Sponsor Spotlight on Silver Sponsor Cross Border Financial Planning.

    Cross Border Financial Planning specializes in providing financial advice to the globally mobile. 

    “CBFP started as a result of two factors, our skills specialising in this field and an interest from all partners to live and work abroad,” said Edward Cole, who attended FIGT2019 in Bangkok, and was instrumental in bringing the group on as an FIGT Sponsor. 

    “Our focus has and always will be to provide financial advice to a large but often underserved group – globally mobile people.” 

    CBFP’s financial planning solutions provided take into account the tax, currency and legal implications of clients’ current country of residence, as well as past and future plans. 

    They also have a trusted network of professionals across the world that they work with in areas such as tax advice, legal services, immigration advice and property finance.

    Check out the Cross Border Financial Planning Sponsor Spotlight video!

    FIGT is honored to welcome back Edward and Cross Border Financial Planning as a returning Silver sponsor, and look forward to seeing them in March at #FIGT2021.

    FIGT is grateful to have incredible sponsors who understand the experiences and needs of the globally mobile community. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, please visit our sponsorship page.

  • 13 Feb 2021 11:07 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Families in Global Transition is excited to shine the Sponsor Spotlight on Silver Sponsor American Psychologist.

    American Psychologist / Burdick Psychological and Placement Services, led by founder and adult Third Culture Kid Dr. Mark Burdick, is a family-based, concierge psychological services provider, consultancy, and education and treatment placement agency. 

    A dual-credentialed educational and licensed psychologist in the US, Mark also serves in the capacity of EU Agent and Independent Educational Consultant touring and regularly communicating with schools/programs domestically and internationally, and is also a UK Chartered Psychologist. 

    Mark is joined in sponsoring by Steven DeMille, Ph.D. LCMHC, a colleague and Executive Director of RedCliff Ascent. Steven specializes in wilderness-based family therapy and has contributed a chapter on the its practical use in Family Therapy with Adolescents in Residential Treatment.

    “Whether it’s for assessment and expert recommendation for treatment or education, we’ve been providing solutions to expats for over 30 years,” Mark says. “American Psychologist travels the globe to help support expat families at risk, including with one of our unique services of addiction support.” 

    Check out the American Psychologist Sponsor Spotlight video!

    FIGT is honored to welcome back Mark, Steven, and American Psychologist as a returning Silver sponsor, and look forward to seeing them in March at #FIGT2021.

    FIGT is grateful to have incredible sponsors who understand the experiences and needs of the globally mobile community. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, please visit our sponsorship page.

  • 12 Feb 2021 3:45 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Families in Global Transition is thrilled to shine the Sponsor Spotlight on Silver Sponsor Special Education Network & Inclusion Association (SENIA).

    SENIA International ‒ the Special Education Network & Inclusion Association ‒ is a global organization of educators, professionals, and parents. Their mission? To advocate for and provide resources and support for differently abled individuals. 

    “We bridge together families who are moving overseas to inclusive schools in their countries,” said Lori Boll, SENIA’s Executive Director. “Moving countries is difficult, and moving countries with a child with special learning needs is incredibly hard. SENIA can help support these families.”

    “Our vision is to live in an inclusive world where every individual is supported, resources are accessible, potential is maximized, and action is inspired.”

    Check out the SENIA International Sponsor Spotlight video!

    FIGT is honored to welcome back Lori and SENIA International as a returning Silver sponsor, and look forward to seeing them in March at #FIGT2021.

    FIGT is grateful to have incredible sponsors who understand the experiences and needs of the globally mobile community. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, please visit our sponsorship page.

  • 08 Feb 2021 2:03 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Families in Global Transition is thrilled to shine the Sponsor Spotlight on Gold Sponsor CrossBorder Living Institute.

    Crossborder Living Institute is FIGT Gold Sponsor

    Several years ago, Jennifer Patterson realized more needed to be done to help educate and guide those living and working across cultures and the financial practitioners who support them. 

    Jennifer, who has lived abroad more than half her life, and her dual-national husband Jeff know the subject matter firsthand: they have raised two tri-national children while working for Patterson Partners, their advisory firm for international clients.

    A longtime member and Gold Sponsor of FIGT, Jennifer created CrossBorder Living Institute with two aims in mind. 

    The first is to teach cross-border technical and practice-related topics to financial practitioners who support globally mobile people.

    The second is to provide events and training for the globally mobile to create, grow and manage their financial assets — regardless of how much or how few — in a way that best supports how they want to live.

    Check out the CrossBorder Living Institute Sponsor Spotlight video!

    FIGT is honored to welcome Jennifer and CrossBorder Living Institute back as our returning Gold sponsor, and look forward to seeing her in March at FIGT2021.


    FIGT is grateful to have incredible sponsors who understand the experiences and needs of the globally mobile community. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, please visit our sponsorship page.

  • 04 Feb 2021 1:55 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Families in Global Transition is thrilled to shine the Sponsor Spotlight on Platinum Sponsor Summertime Publishing.

    FIGT Platinum sponsor Summertime Publishing and Springtime Books

    Summertime Publishing was created by longtime FIGT member, supporter, and current Platinum Sponsor Jo Parfitt in 1997 as a way to get books by and for expatriates to print. 

    One of the earliest was her own Career in Your Suitcase, leading the way in books about portable careers. While authoring 30+ additional books, Jo has taught writing to many, helping to publish over 300 authors. 

    Today Summertime specializes in books “by and for people living abroad, with a particular emphasis on Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and issues affecting the global family.” 

    Check out the Summertime Publishing Sponsor Spotlight video!

    FIGT is honored to welcome Jo and Summertime Publishing back as our returning Platinum sponsor, and look forward to seeing her in March at FIGT2021.


    FIGT is grateful to have incredible sponsors who understand the experiences and needs of the globally mobile community. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, please visit our sponsorship page.

  • 19 Jan 2021 5:25 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Hailing from South Africa and now settled in Germany, Melanie Wilcocks had to learn how to deal with the cold northern European winters. Melanie will be running the show behind the scenes as FIGT Operations Lead.

    Photo of FIGT's new Operations Lead, Melanie Wilcocks, with decorative images of a horse, paper clips, and a notebook. 

    Please tell us a bit about yourself.

    My name is Melanie Wilcocks. I am a South African and currently live in a small village close to Munich in Germany with my husband, son, and a few pets. Together we have experienced China, The Netherlands, and eventually decided to settle in Germany.

    I have been a business analyst for most of my working career. It always gave me great joy to better businesses and people’s lives by enhancing and streamlining processes and systems.

    Can you please briefly describe what the Operations Lead does?

    The Operations Lead works behind the scenes in FIGT, supporting the FIGT Board and committees in running all aspects of the organization.

    What interested you in FIGT and inspired you to take on this role?

    As we moved across the globe, we experienced the frustrations, struggles, challenges, and joys of being an internationally mobile family. Doing this without the security of a support structure or an area to go to when looking for information was quite a daunting and sometimes lonely.

    When I came to the point where I felt that we as a family have sufficiently settled in Germany — understanding the culture, speaking the language — I knew that I wanted to go back to work again. But this time I wanted to work for an organization that helps others — others that are experiencing what we have experienced.

    When the position at FIGT became available, it was clear to me that this was the organization I wanted to work for — because if I had known and had access to the resources and information that FIGT provides when we first moved, I would have had a much better understanding and resources to support my family through our transitions.

    Because I am quite a shy person, this behind-the-scenes role was even more appealing to me.

    What are you looking forward to in your new role?

    I am looking forward to being part of a truly international team and to use my skills that I have built throughout my career to serve others.

    Your favorite thing about being a part of FIGT?

    I am quite new to FIGT, but even in the past few months dealing with FIGT, I have quickly come to learn that FIGT is a welcoming, friendly, and nonjudgmental organization — no matter where you come from, where you live, or even which accent you have.

    This is a wonderful feeling because, as many of us know and probably have experienced firsthand, most of the work when moving abroad from culture to culture or country to country goes into trying to fit in or being accepted.

    Can you share some random pieces of info about yourself?

    1. One of my hobbies is horse riding. I had to leave my horse behind in South Africa when we moved and would love to return to the sport again.
    2. My favorite German word is Eichhörnchen — because it’s so difficult to pronounce as it contains almost all the different sounds one might make in the German language. This word means squirrel.
    3. Arriving in the Netherlands in December (winter) from a very sunny summertime in South Africa was naturally quite a shock and, as a South African, I had no idea how to deal with the ice and cold weather in Europe. The day before our furniture arrived in January (after spending Christmas in our new home with beds on the floor and basic furniture borrowed from neighbors) I decided that a good clean of the house would be in order. With this in mind, I decided that the outside patio also needed to be washed. What I did not know is that instead of washing, I would create a frozen layer of ice on the patio that lasted the whole winter. It was so slippery that none of us could go out the patio door without falling until March!


    Please share some words of wisdom for FIGT members and globally mobile people in general.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, your spouse, or your children. Being globally mobile (as exciting as it can be) can also be hard. Sometimes in the silent wings behind the stage, don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek support, everywhere and as often as you need.

    Always be proud of your culture, where you come from and where you have been. No one has a story exactly the same as yours — you are unique!

    Thank you Melanie, and welcome to the FIGT team!

  • 07 Jan 2021 11:59 PM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Registration is now open for Families in Global Transition’s first virtual conference.

    FIGT Virtual Conference 12-14 March 2021, Embracing & bridging differences. Registration now open!

    FIGT2021 - Embracing & Bridging Differences will take place across multiple timezones over 12-14 March 2021. You can read more about our theme and view the full conference program here.

    The conference registration fee is US$89 and includes:

    • Three live conference sessions, each four hours long, across 12-14 March. 

      At least two of the conference’s four-hour sessions should fall into your timezone.

    • Networking and social opportunities with participants and presenters throughout the weekend
    • A range of online events in the week before the conference
    • Access to all conference content for six months after the event

    All of this will be available on one easy-to-use online platform.

    Some conference presentations will be pre-recorded, with presenters available for live Q&A sessions online after their presentation has been shown.

    We look forward to connecting with you there!


    Register button

    To stay up to date with the latest conference news, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Linkedin, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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