How do you feel about words? Do you prefer the written word or the spoken word? Or both? Do you gravitate towards words of one language or multiple languages? I find words to be very powerful. They can build up or they can tear down. My brain prefers the written word, in English, yet I am mesmerised by the sound of words spoken in another language. In this blog post, I share with you some words that have been resonating with me recently – words for a fulfilled global life.
As part of my Parfitt Pascoe Writing Residency responsibilities, I’ve been reviewing my notes and the presentations from the recent Families in Global Transition Conference (FIGT) I attended and presented at, in The Hague. I’m sure you can imagine, with 288 delegates from 36 countries, a full 3-day schedule, 70 Presenters and way too many sessions to count on all my fingers and toes, a lot of words were used. And that’s before I include the conversations that occurred outside the structured program.
All of these words exemplify one of my new favourite words – Epignosis, a Greek word meaning ‘understanding and believing what you know in a personal way.’ It is knowledge gained through personal experience and I am so grateful for the FIGT community’s willingness to share their words and perspectives with me, with us.
Gleaned throughout the FIGT Conference, some of the words that follow were spoken, either during presentations or in conversation. Other words were written – projected on huge screens, chronicled in blog posts, tweeted or recorded in emails post-conference. All of them have impacted me. Some have challenged, others have comforted. Some have encouraged, others have inspired. Some have prompted soul-searching, others galvanised action.
I share these words with you in the hope that they may help you to live a fulfilled global life, whether that be abroad or in your ‘home’ culture.
232 million people worldwide are living outside their country of birth. Naomi Hattaway (Founder of I am a Triangle)
In 2015, there were 8000 English-medium international schools serving more than 3.5 million students. Anastasia Lijadi (Research Fellow at University of Macau)
Fear is an illusion. It exists as an emotion but it’s our minds that make it a reality. Sebastien Bellin (Survivor of the 2016 Brussels Airport attack)
The more quality you have in your life, the more you have to build on in challenging moments. Sebastien Bellin
Third Culture Kids (TCKs):
We TCKs know what loneliness is. Especially what I call ‘inflicted loneliness’ as in, it’s not our choice, it’s inflicted on us. Moving to a new school and standing in the playground alone, wishing it was 2 months down the line, when you know things will be different. Lonely because you are different and until ‘they’ accept you and get used to you; you have to wait. You can always try and join is but the knock backs can be hurtful. Student perspective from Anastasia Lijadi’s research
Q: Are you aware of the emotions of the friends you’ve left behind?
A: I hadn’t considered that to be honest. Asked by an Adult and answered by a Student at SPAN Pre-Conference
Having a student buddy e-introduced before I arrived at a new school really helped me to understand the school & its expectations. Student perspective from SPAN Pre-Conference
When we are talking about TCKs and supporting them, we really need to think more holistically and look at the entire family. Kristin Duncombe (Psychotherapist and Author of Trailing: A Memoir)
Look at what is already working and build on that, even if it’s just a tiny piece. Connect your child to the one thing that is okay amongst all the changes. Kristin Duncombe
Raising three third culture kids, I have always believed that one of the most powerful tools I give them is their experience with diversity. To them, diversity is ‘normal.’ Tone Delin Indrelid (PPWR Scholar, Writer and Blogger at https://theothertrail.me )
Recognizing that your child’s identity may be different from you own is one of the most important things parents of global and mobile kids need to get their heads around because when you raise your kids in a way that is different from the way you have been raised, in a country that is different from the country you have been raised in, kids don’t turn out to be just little photocopies of yourself. They turn out to be people with different identities. Kristin Duncombe
Returning to the place of loss is an important part of the healing and integration process. Maria Lombart (Adult TCK with 6 countries, 4 continents and 8 distinct cultures in the bag)
Let’s try to re-imagine school admissions as a learning moment – after all we are a school and we believe in learning and the families need to learn is this the right place for my child? David Willows (Director of Admissions and Advancement, International School of Brussels)
We need to be competitively collaborative. We need to keep our students, parents and staff first. After all, it is our ethical responsibility. Ellen Mahoney (SPAN Program Co-Chair & Founder of Sea Change Mentoring)
For me as an educator, the biggest take away was centred around the baton idea. We have a responsibility not to focus so much on ‘our’ program but to actually look at our community – the transition in and the transition out and our duty to work with other communities to ensure our Tribe are looked after when they leave our community. Claudine Hakim (Dean of Students, International School of London, Surrey)
But my child is a TCK at a local school. How do I get their school to understand the challenges of mobility they are working through, without being perceived that I think ‘my Johnny’ is the centre of the universe? Many parents (names withheld for privacy)
Tribes and Community:
Every single tribe has its own mindset because of the circumstances and the journey they have lived. Marielle de Spa (Global Talent Advisor and Strategist at TCKapital)
We need three things to build a Tribe: a smile, an open mind and patience. Naomi Hattaway
I have experiences and wisdom to share with my community. I am what I am because of who WE are together. Naomi Hattaway
The sojourn and furlough model favoured by military and missionary organizations may have unfavourable identity implications for TCKs. Katia Mace (University of Cambridge – based on her recent dissertation ‘TCK Identity: Variables that make a difference’)
Use re-entry as an opportunity to redefine who you are now and what you want your life to be like going forward no matter where in the world you are. Enjoy the journey! Cate Brubaker (Founder and Chief Re-Entry Re-Launcher at Small Planet Studios)
Languages unite. They do not divide. They bring families together. Rita Rosenback (author and family language coach at www.multilingualparenting.com)
Language is essential for communication…by using the Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK) term, we give room to look at both what is shared and what is different in each experience. Ruth van Reken (Author of Third Culture Kids: Growing up Among Worlds and Founder of Families in Global Transition)
The best part of #FIGT17NL= meeting online connections in Real Life. Tanya Crossman (Author of Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century)
The reason I blog is that it helps me connect with all of you. Mariam Ottimofiore (PPWR Scholar, Writer and Blogger at http://andthenwemovedto.com)
Try the thing that has the greatest risk because it also has the most potential. Kilian Kroll (Adult TCK, SPAN Treasurer and Former FIGT President)
It’s not the destination but the joy of the journey. Terry Ann Wilson (Author and Blogger at www.notesonaboardingpass.wordpress.com )
THE major life skill is to take the perspective of others. Dr Anne Copeland (Clinical Psychologist and Executive Director, The Interchange Institute)
After the FIGT Conference, I went back to my routine knowing, with relief, that my work as a TCK researcher was valued more than I can possibly imagine. Anastasia Lijadi (Research Fellow, University of Macau)
I’m glad to have been welcomed with such open arms to my first FIGT Conference. I’m already looking forward to the next one being in Southeast Asia so that a different demographic can be included in this incredibly valuable discussion. Warren Macleod (Assistant Director of Odyssey, International Schools Consortium)
I am filled with encouragement and hope at the thought of a community of people who will be at the forefront, leading the world into the increasingly global future. We can demonstrate to the world that it is possible to live in peace with one another, to celebrate each other’s differences, to work through the challenges of mobile people and come out stronger at the other end. Hannele Secchia (HR Manager, Bingham Academy, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
Gary Chapman, in his book Love as a Way of Life likens words to being either bullets or seeds. Obviously bullets harm, as do words delivered with superiority or condemnation. Seeds, however, planted in fertile soil, nourished and nurtured, bear good fruit. So too do words, delivered with love, sincerity, good will and genuine care. The words contained in this blog post were and are delivered as seeds. May they bear much good fruit and contribute towards a fulfilled global life, for you and those with whom you live and work, whether abroad or at ‘home’.