Global Transition Conference
It has been exactly one week since I got back from my first FIGT conference and I finally brought myself to writing these lines.
I went to The Hague full of expectations. But honestly, my expectations were somehow very practical ones, just like me -now that I think of it- a structured very practical Virgo girl with 25 years of an executive career working for multinational companies.
I learned about Families In Global Transitionthrough a dear friend: pretty much all I knew was that it was a Forum for globally mobile people. I went to the conference hoping to learn more about expat life, to make good contacts and to tap into this environment to check the reactions about my project of designing home away from home.
The experience couldn’t have been deeper and more meaningful to me than that.
I started realizing the conference would be much more than I could have imagined from the minute the taxi stopped in front of the hotel and to explain that I will go back in time a little further.
My arrival in The Netherlands was quite stressful: My passport fell out from my purse inside the plane so by the time I got through immigrations I had no documents! Making a long story short, it took me almost 6 hours and the amazing goodwill of the Dutch immigration officers to recuperate my passport and arrive at The Hague. Getting to the convention, feeling emotionally drained, my experience with FIGT started. The taxi stopped in front of the hotel and immediately a group of ladies passing by got closer to the car “are you coming for the FIGT conference? Welcome! Let me help you with your bag! I am Carolina. I am Judy. I am Ruth. You?” There I was feeling suddenly and totally at home among strangers and I could finally begin to relax. Can you imagine how good it felt?
So the conference started. Important topics were covered, the content was always interesting. Just as I thought I would, I did learn a lot. And I was really glad to get the most positive and encouraging feedback about my website and my interior design project for expats.
One of the keynote presentations was given by the amazing Robin Pascoe, a journalist by profession and author/publisher of five books about global relocation. She talked about how to make this 20 year old community more inclusive and diverse and the theme could not be more relevant.
I had the chance to talk with her about my project of “helping expats turn their temporary walls into a place that feels like home”. She totally understood that the idea was to go beyond the traditional “designing book” and she was kind enough to share some valuable tips:
“Whenever I was reallocating, my first priority was the kid’s bedroom. I would make sure they would have the same pictures displayed as soon as possible”
“Another thing I learned about the kids was to take with me on the plane their bed sheets so I would use them since day one even if we were in a hotel so they would feel at home”
“Finally, don’t delay unpacking, this can be hard, unpleasant but should be done immediately”
It would be hard to choose one topic, or one presentation to point as something that blew my mind. It was the people, the camaraderie, the willingness from everybody to be helpful, together with the unique sensation that I did not need to explain myself that made the conference a personal transforming experience and I couldn’t be happier to have lived it.
Nicole, a sweet attendee of the conference – that also gave a really nice interview, told me that last year expats counted for more than 250 million people all over the world, which means that if we were a country, we would be among the top 10 biggest nations. Obviously, being nomads by nature we don’t need a land but boy… how we can make very good use of a meeting point… and FIGT just proved to me to be a great one.
Needless to say I’ve just become a member.