We thank Sue Mannering for introducing us to this interesting book.
In 2014, as part of the Families in Global Transition (FIGT) conference, I was one of four lucky winners of the inaugural Parfitt Pascoe Writing Residency scholarship. Aimed at budding writers, it entitled me to a discount on the conference held in Washington D.C., and access to a diverse group of people, all of whom understood the life of the global nomad. The scholarship winners split the seminars on offer amongst ourselves, and then we wrote articles about them.
These articles have been collated, along with other writers observations into the book, Insights and Interviews from the 2014 Families in Global Transition conference: The global family redefined, and it makes interesting reading for a new wanderer or an experienced one.
When I attended the FIGT conference last year I felt a weird sense of coming home, even though I had never visited the United States before. FIGT participants ‘get’ that moving yourself or your family to a new country once or multiple times brings unique challenges. They know it can be hard to share these challenges with loved ones in your home country and how difficult it can be to meet like minded people and access the right kind of support, and then when you do, you and your children might have to say goodbye, move on and start all over again.
At the conference were more than 150 kindred spirits with ample experience in the relocation process. They have felt the emotions accompanying the day–to-day existence of setting up in another country. They understood the loneliness, the adjustment, the culture shock, the need to step up, the fear, the humour, the communication issues, the love of your new home and the way you miss your home country. They have been there with schools, raising Third Culture Kids and saying goodbye when they grow up and study elsewhere. They too have missed out on important events back home and have felt the distress when loved ones are sick. They also recognize the joys and opportunities of living internationally and anything else you have experienced as a global nomad. All these issues were attended to with love and compassion at this extraordinary conference that was more like a family gathering.
The conference brought together experts ranging from psychologists, academics, relocation advisers, consultants and authors and provided a terrific opportunity to network, share experiences and gather information.
In your travels you will come across a multitude of family types, many of whom are represented at the annual conference. The book outlines the level of understanding conference attendees bring to the varied challenges and decisions families may face. If walking in someone’s shoes is the true litmus test for empathy, then the FIGT conference provides an opportunity to do so. The conference didn’t shy away from uncomfortable themes and offered strategies for issues like divorce and splitting up families internationally. I feel confident this book provides useful information and may inspire readers to attend the conference themselves. The book would be a helpful resource for people making an international move and a fine addition to any information pack about relocating. I know I would have been grateful for something like this when I moved from Australia to the Middle East ten years ago.
FIGT 2016 conference will be held in the Netherlands, I hope to see you there.
By Sue Mannering
Co-author and co-editor of Insights and interviews from the 2104 Families in Global Transition (FIGT) Conference: The global family redefined.
You can find out more information about FIGT 16 and the Writers Residency program on the FIGT website, figt.org.
Insights and interviews from the 2104 Families in Global Transition (FIGT) Conference: The global family redefined is available from Amazon.