Families in Global Transition 2019

OK photo has nothing to do with the topic, but I completely forgot to take pics at the conference (^^; And anyway, conference pics tend to be boring, right?

Thoughts and personal highlights from the Families in Global Transition 2019 conference.

I had the privilege of attending the Families in Global Transition 2019 conference—my first time at FIGT—thanks to a generous anonymous donor who presented BAMBI with a corporate sponsorship.

FIGT and its annual conference grew from the informal gatherings around Third Culture Kids: Growing Up among Worlds co-author Ruth Van Reken's kitchen table 20-odd years ago. It's a place where people who call the world their home (including Third Culture Kids and people who are living a mobile life as adults), and those who support them, gather to share experiences and ideas.

I'm used to being with international people, thanks to my past life working in the UN and also with my BAMBI volunteer family, but it was a rare opportunity to focus entirely on the aspect of being between/among worlds.

Despite my disinclination and almost fear of having to meet new people, it was a unique experience and I enjoyed it despite feeling drained and also mentally buzzed afterwards!

Some random takeaway thoughts/highlights:

☑ Share your stories to inspire, support, inform, resonate. 

Stories bring our broken pieces together and make us stronger. (Jo Parfitt, author & publisher)

☑ Find the 'anchors' that matter to you to help you find a sense of belonging.

We all share the basic need to belong. Certain 'anchors' help us define ourselves and give us that sense of belonging: family, community, and location. When we move to a new country, we are often disconnected from those anchors. To help us re-calibrate our identity, we need to identify/find the anchors that will make us feel like we belong...once again. (Ruth Van Reken & Daniela Tomer, psychologist & coach)

☑ Everyone had an incredible history.

And I relished hearing them! Talk about the power of sharing one's stories...! It was marvelous not knowing at all what path each person had taken in their lives and it was moving to see that there are infinite possible combinations of families, locations, paths, languages. And to see that there was always still pain and grief behind this often incredible mobile lifestyle—that was both sobering, moving, and also affirming.

☑ A 'reunion of strangers' indeed.

That was the tagline one of the past FIGT conferences and it does capture the FIGT atmosphere quite well. Let me say again that I don't enjoy meeting new people for the first time, especially in a 'networking' kind of environment, and it takes me a lot of courage to strike up conversations with strangers, so I sincerely appreciated how open the other participants were. And I was amazed how comfortable I felt when I found my 'Japanese lunch table' on the final day :D

☑ The middle-aged fan girl :D

I also have to say that it was super exciting for me to hear Ruth Van Reken speak! That Third Culture Kids book means so much to me, even though I read it as a fully formed adult. And I was so proud of myself for getting up the nerve to ask her to sign my book :D Never mind that I'm a professional woman in her 40s; I was star-struck :)

Finally—I will conclude with a couple of reads that were introduced to me at the FIGT bookstore:
  • Third Culture Kids: Growing Up among Worlds, 3rd edition (David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken): The classic TCK book, updated to take into account the revolution in digital technology.
  • Monday Morning Emails (Terry Anne Wilson and Jo Parfitt): An email exchange between two nomadic writers with adult children. I've read a bit and, aside from the wonderful writing, it's opening my eyes to the empty-nester stage and making me realize that there are also unique challenges even when the kids are grown!
  • This Messy Mobile Life (Mariam Ottimofiore): I haven't started this one yet, but the subheading of the book speaks to me: "How a mola can help globally mobile families create a life by design." Mariam has had quite a globally mobile life, not just as a child but currently as an adult and while raising her young children. I can't wait to learn from her on what to make of my own mixed up family!
I don't know if I will ever get to attend another of these conferences (it's not a justifiable expenditure at the moment and also not high on my 'reasons to leave my kids and husband behind for several days' scale), but hopefully one day...


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