Blankets and Espresso

I’ve spent much of the past few weeks looking over my notes from the Families in Global Transition conference.  So many thoughts come from those notes–so many quotes, so many ideas, that it’s hard to know where to begin writing them down.  I’ve come to realize that one of the best places to start is the experience.

I was honestly a little bit skeptical when I agreed to attend FIGT as a Parfitt Pascoe Writing Resident.  I’d never heard of the conference before last October. The online expat community ramped up FIGT to be a sensational experience. But how could I really believe these digitized faces? The words of the computer screen spoke life, depth, and connectedness, but the flatness of the computer screen made it difficult for me to believe that such a thing could actually exist from people traveling in from around the world.  I balked a little at dropping a couple hundred dollars to spend a weekend with people I had never met.

Which is why I was surprised when attending FIGT felt like both snuggling up with your favorite blanket and drinking three cups of espresso (this is probably an inadequate coffee comparison…you’ll have to forgive me, I’ve only just begun drinking coffee).

A favorite blanket, you say?

Yes, a favorite blanket. The one that you always grab when you’ve come inside from shoveling snow (I did a lot of that this year), and you can’t stop shivering.  It’s fuzzy, and it covers your completely, and suddenly you’re warm again and it doesn’t matter how cold it is outside.

That’s like what walking into FIGT is–no matter where you’re coming from, or whether or not you’ve been to FIGT before, there’s a feeling of familiarity and warmth that you can’t find anywhere else and that makes everyone feel like they’ve come home.  No matter where you’re coming from, everyone shares a common bond.  The bond goes beyond the understanding of what it’s like to travel between cultures and countries.  It’s a desire to understand that experience and do something with it that brings everyone together.  And when everyone’s together with that understanding, then it doesn’t matter what’s going on outside.

That is also why FIGT is a little bit like three cups of espresso.

Because the people who go to FIGT don’t stop at just thinking.  They want to do something about what they’re thinking and want to learn how to use their gifts to help others.

As a TCK, I often felt like we viewed ourselves as victims–many of us had no control over where or when we would move next.  Thus, as children, we seemed helpless to impact the changes taking place around us.  I never liked this image of helplessness that I felt like was associated with being a TCK.

That’s where we need to start changing the narrative.  As research emerges about the benefits of moving cross-culturally, we get to do something about the world.  And there are hundreds of awesome people with brilliant ideas about what we can do to start that.  Many of those people were at FIGT, and their desire to make that change is inspiring and motivating.  It spurs other people into action beyond the walls of the conference room.  It’s better than caffeine.

Long story short, you should plan on attending FIGT next year when it takes place in the Netherlands.

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