Oh 2019. Where did you go?
Are you like me and struggling to wrap your head around the fact that we are in December already? It’s been quite a year. Although the headlines and realities have often been challenging and confronting in 2019, Globally Grounded has been blessed to have its best year yet…with the notable exception of our blog post regularity (sorry about that). Celebrating family milestones, consulting to schools, presenting seminars, analysing research, serving on the SPAN Board and mentoring families have pushed blogging to the back seat on more than one occasion. As we hurtle towards the end of the year, let’s play catch up. Here is Globally Grounded’s 2019 Round Up.
A FAMILY MILESTONE
The year began in the best possible way, with a memorable celebration of our eldest son’s high school graduation. We gathered with 6 other school families in Steamboat Springs, Colorado to mark our childrens’ milestone together. Two weeks of fun, friendship and falling snow made it a family vacation to remember.
We hit the ground running with consultancy work in regional and urban New South Wales, Australia. Did you know that the education of international students generates in excess of $20 billion for the Australian economy annually and is their third largest export? Many local schools have contributed to this statistic with increased enrolments of cross-cultural students in recent years. Boarding schools offer a viable option to families of cross-cultural learners, providing accommodation, food, safety, strong academic support and a stepping-stone to university entry. We have relished the challenge of coming alongside boarding schools, facilitating reviews of current policies, practices and perspectives of key stakeholders, analysing data, preparing reports and presenting solutions-based recommendations for best-practice transition care and cultural integration. We look forward to continuing our partnerships with current clients and working with new schools in 2020, building educational and social conditions where students, parents and staff of diverse cultural backgrounds live and learn with each other in an integrative culture, whilst preserving and championing each boarding school’s current strengths.
PROFESSIONAL LEARNING SEMINARS
Globally Grounded partnered with Student Concierge Connect to deliver professional learning seminars in regional New South Wales and metropolitan Melbourne throughout 2019. Recognising the challenges local schools face with increased enrolments of cross-cultural learners, we facilitated a series of research-based, informative and practical workshops aimed at equipping schools to support and empower their cross-cultural learners and community. Our curriculum provides learning opportunities in everything from Pre-Arrival and Onboarding practices, Cross-Cultural Transition Care and Transitioning Successfully from School to Tertiary. Our calendar for 2020 already has seminar bookings locked in.
The last two years have seen a thriving research partnership between Globally Grounded and Sea Change Mentoring produce some ground-breaking work. Building on the foundational research of eminent figures in the global mobility field such as Dr. Barbara Schaetti, Mary Langford, Dr. Robert Risch, Ruth Van Reken, Drs. Douglas Ota and the Council of International Schools (CIS) International Accreditation Standards, our research will provide a deeper understanding of the transitions-support practices, challenges, and opportunities that the international school community faces today and beyond. We are currently analysing data and writing up our final report, with the help of our amazing research assistant Amy Kellogg – we are a true global team who communicates across oceans and timezones. Our White Paper, Surveying the Landscape: Common practices, challenges and opportunities in International School transition support will be launched by Amy and myself in Bangkok at the Families in Global Transition (FIGT) Conference in March 2020. We hope our research will equip international school leaders in forging a logical pathway towards providing optimal transitions support to students, parents and educators.
SAFE PASSAGE ACROSS NETWORKS (SPAN)
2019 marks my 3rd year as a SPAN Board member and I couldn’t be more delighted! I am so honoured to work alongside a global team of psychologists, educators, school counsellors and school management specialists, representing every continent on the planet, as we fervently pursue our mission to offer a home to people and schools committed to healthy student, family and staff transition. In the words of our Chairman, Drs. Doug Ota, “SPAN has been busy building boulevards to belonging” in 2019. Firstly, we have developed Certification pathways for schools to become Safe Passage Schools and are in the midst of our ‘pre-pilot’ testing and troubleshooting of this Certification process. Here is a short video of me explaining why schools should become Safe Passage Schools which was recently distributed through our SPAN Newsletter (you can sign up today). Secondly, in partnership with the Association of China and Mongolian International Schools (ACAMIS), Doug Ota and I are preparing to present SPAN’s Weekend Workshop in Shenzhen, China from March 7-8, 2020. Of particular interest to those who develop, implement, or support transitions activities or programs at schools or networks of schools, the workshop provides a comprehensive understanding of the issues at stake when people move or are moved away from. Registration is open now. Thirdly, members of the SPAN Board, including myself, will participate in a panel discussion alongside students from International School Bangkok, at the FIGT Conference on March 15, 2020. Each of us will be drawing on our diverse experiences and perspectives to discuss how international schools can provide ‘Safe Passage’ for their community members within and between schools.
Perhaps the work I find most rewarding is coming alongside families crossing cultures. This may be because I see immediate results, whereas working with schools often requires a cultural change that takes years. I have had the privilege to work with families arriving in Australia, leaving Australia and returning to Australia after life abroad. I have also been mentoring Grandparents whose family has moved away. In 2019, I became an endorsed Debriefing Provider for Mercy Ships. I particularly admire the way this organisation values their missionaries and family members upon ship departure. They provide support that allows their missionary families to participate in a three day debrief retreat with me in an idyllic location. The retreat model gives each family member time to make sense of their overseas experience, understand the journey ahead, lay solid foundations for creating a fulfilled global life wherever in the world they may be and use the challenges associated with re-entry as an enhancer to learning and life.
I have spent the last few days reflecting, planning and looking forward to 2020. We have more family milestones next year with our youngest son set to graduate high school and my husband’s and my 25th wedding anniversary! Globally Grounded will be represented on the world stage in Bangkok and China in the first half of the year and locally in a number of urban and regional areas throughout the year. We cherish our partnerships with Sea Change Mentoring and Student Concierge Connect and take our responsibility to support schools and individuals committed to healthy student, family and staff transition, both as a SPAN Board member and in our day-to-day work.
Before I sign off, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have made 2019 a fantastic year. To my school clients, thank you for your trust in me and for your commitment to equipping your school community to support and empower your cross-cultural learners. It has been a pleasure to work with you and I look forward to seeing the fruits of our labour play out in your community.
To my family clients, thank you for your authenticity, vulnerability and stoic determination to use your overseas experience as a foundation upon which to build a fulfilled global life.
To my research partners, Ellen Mahoney and Amy Kellogg, thank you for burning the midnight candle collaborating, analysing and reviewing across multiple timezones and many bizarre locations. It is a privilege to work with such professional and passionate people on this ground-breaking project.
To Danielle Pringle at Student Concierge Connect, thank you for paving the way, knocking on doors and creating conversations that have resulted in us kicking some significant goals in 2019. We are a great team. I am excited about what lies ahead.
To my SPAN family, Doug Ota, Valérie Besanceney, Aleka Bilan, Claudine Hakim, Ryan Haynes, Dan Long, Mona Stuart and Karl Suits, thank you for your incredible passion and conviction for cross-cultural transition care. Spanning (pardon the pun) every continent, I am in awe of how we work so closely together. We are the definition of collaboration!
To you, my readers and supporters. I hear you cheering me on from the other side of the screen and am so grateful for your faithfulness and trust in me. Thank you for reading and sharing my content and at times, sharing your insights too. I’m sorry I’ve been MIA a bit this year. I hope this Round Up provides you with a quick catch up and enthusiasm to stay the course alongside me in 2020 and beyond.
Finally, and most importantly, to my family. Thank you. Your love, support, listening ears, critical thinking, IT skills and just simply being there are integral to who I am and to Globally Grounded’s success. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I read this quote recently. It eloquently describes my hope for each of you during this holiday season and throughout 2020.
“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” Neil Gaiman (English author)