Families in Global Transition – 2015 Conference Highlights


Families in Global Transition 2015 Conference Highlights

Finding Home Amidst Change

By Dounia Bertuccelli

Global Living Magazine – Issue 18 | May/June 2015

Writer, #TCKchat co-host, 2014 Parfitt/Pascoe Writing Resident, and Global Living Magazine’s Expat Resource Directory manager Dounia Bertuccelli shares highlights from the 2015 FIGT Conference.

Doug Ota: Don’t Leave Without Taking Your Vitamin ‘G’: Why Goodbyes are Good for You

DSC03035Doug Ota’s keynote was an emotional and interactive session. Together we explored the meaning of goodbye and why it’s essential to say goodbye.

“The hero has to say goodbye in order to eventually come home.”

“We get home by being able to say goodbye.”

“A person who is ready to explore his feelings is ready to explore his life.”

We shared recent or upcoming separations and how those goodbyes impacted us. We connected with strangers and took a personal journey that left each of us with our own deep thoughts to contemplate.

“The purpose of rituals is to separate one phase of life from the next. Besides a funeral, what are the rituals for goodbye?”

“The experience of being understood is the best healing.”

It would be difficult to sum up this session in a few words, so it’s best to finish with a final thought from Doug: “Descartes was wrong. It’s not I think, therefore I am; it’s I am seen, therefore I am.”


Bookstore & Book-Signing

The FIGT bookstore and book-signing event promote books on all things expat/TCK – many written by members and attendees.

Here, veteran writers/experts – Ruth Van Reken, Lois Bushong, Tina Quick and many others – rub elbows and mingle with new, up-and-coming writers, like Marilyn Gardner, 2015 PPWR scholar Taylor Murray and 2014 PPWR scholars Dounia Bertuccelli and Cristina Bertarelli.

Cristina and Dounia, along with Alice Wu (member of the 2014 writing team) were on hand to introduce and sign the first-ever FIGT book: Insights and Interviews from the 2014 Families in Global Transition Conference: The Global Family Redefined.

Although the bookstore only sells books, it’s still a great place to get the word out and give exposure to other types of publications, like our very own Global Living Magazine!


Writer’s Forum

Led by Nina Sichel and Patricia Linderman (with the assistance of Eva Laszlo-Herbert and Ruth van Reken), the pre-conference writer’s forum was brimming with passionate writers and inspiring ideas.

We discussed concrete ways to write about expat-related topics like cross-cultural communication, first international moves, challenges/lessons learned from mobile life, unique places you’ve seen/unique events you’ve experienced, and more.

What type of writing/media can you do?

  • Personal essays – for websites, magazines, anthologies
  • Memoirs, letters, journals, poems
  • Articles – non-fiction, ‘how-to’ pieces, interviews
  • Books – fiction/non-fiction, informational, anthology, short stories
  • Blogs, social media, podcasts
  • Theater, film, video scripts
  • Handbooks, manuals, workbooks, checklists

Key tip: focus on your strengths

Why write?

  • To pass on stories and make a change through them
  • To help people learn and understand
  • Self-discovery: organize and make sense of your thoughts
  • To get your story out there and let people know about you
  • To stay connected

   “I think through writing.” – Ruth van Reken

“The fact that you write makes you a writer.” – Eva Laszlo-Herbert


Panel of Dudes

DSC02955Led by author Chris O’Shaughnessy, with panelists Tayo Rockson, Grant Simens and Niels Ota, this was a humorous and insightful session. Here are some of their gems of wisdom:

Life lessons from growing up as a TCK:

  • “Finding myself in the unexpected position of being a teacher.” – Tayo Rockson
  • “Don’t say goodbye to the people that matter. It’s important to make an effort to stay in contact with and see friends.” – Grant Simens

On social media:DSC02963

  • “Use it as a connecting tool.” – Grant Simens
  • “Use it in moderation… don’t forget to connect in person.” – Niels Ota
  • “Use it to create platforms and business – it allows you to be uniquely positioned to travel and still have a business.” – Tayo Rockson

On the TCK life:

  • “You’re a blank sheet and you’re filling that in.” – Niels Ota
  • “Gives me a unique lens, so I wouldn’t trade that.” – Tayo Rockson
  • “I’ve lived a privileged and experienced life, so I would do it again.” – Grant Simens


Parfitt/Pascoe Writing Residency

As a 2014 Parfitt/Pascoe Writing Residency (PPWR) scholar and mentor/editor for the 2015 PPWR, I would be remiss if I did not mention it.

Working with this year’s scholars has been a fantastic experience. Lauren Owen, Beth Hoban, Taylor Murray and Lauren Power are talented and passionate writers. Look out for their articles and blog posts in the coming months so you can catch up on everything you missed from the 2015 FIGT conference!

I’m proud to be involved in this program and thrilled that at FIGT 2015 we introduced our book: Insights and Interviews from the 2014 Families in Global Transition Conference: The Global Family Redefined. It contains articles on all of the 2014 sessions and interviews with experts, authors and presenters.

TCKs and Technology

Topic: Global Nomads: Finding Home in the Age of Technology, led by Alice Wu

Question: How does the current use of technology affect the experiences of Third Culture Kids (TCKs)?

Presentation: Video interviews of college-age TCKs from 1994, 2001 and 2014 talking about home, family and friends

The TCKs from 1994 struggled most with feeling like moving away was a final cut-off from friends and ‘home’. In 2001 there was already a change in how TCKs viewed their departures and the opportunities to stay in contact. There was a clear shift in comments from TCKs in 2014, who have a myriad of ways to stay in touch with family and friends and to keep up with what’s happening all over the world. They have such a wide variety of resources and connection tools at their fingertips.

Alice Wu notes, “Although technology also has some limitations and drawbacks, it generally seems to help contribute to a more positive experience for global nomads.” The advent of the Internet, email, Skype and social media helps TCKs stay in touch with friends, family and all of their homes around the world.

“If you left so many times, you learn not to attach yourself too much.”

“I’m very grateful for the invention of email to be able to stay in regular contact with friends.”

“We used to pass the phone around at Christmas, but now we all gather around Skype.” 

“With Skype it’s so easy to stay in touch; it’s almost like we’re still together.”

 “With things like iMessage and Snapchat you can pick up where you left off when you see friends again.”

[Photography courtesy of Dounia Bertuccelli, Iacopo Bertuccelli, Alison Cavatore and Families in Global Transition]

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