Dinner with friends at the FIGT Conference 2018
One of the great joys in life (and in work) is learning and expanding on what we might already know (or not know) but seeing things afresh or from new perspectives. My last blog post was about the Families in Global Transition conference in the Hague where I was a presenter but also enjoyed the other talks, re-connected with friends and met and made new friends. As I said, the whole conference was amazing, so important and included some phenomenal talks by speakers from all over the world, from many different backgrounds. In my next post I’ll give some insight into what my talk was about and why I felt it was an important thing to do. In this post, I’d like to share some of the talks I enjoyed at the FITGT 2018 conference and hope that you find my reflections interesting and useful.

This is a small selection of what I experienced; there is much more to this and you’ll have to come to the next conference if you want to know more:

Entrepreneurs Forum with Amel Derragui, Gina Dunn, Lisa Ferland and Stephanie Ward
A brilliant and informative session with four very experienced professionals who shared their knowledge, their stories and their passions in order to help those just starting up their own businesses or switching career pathways. I mainly went along to support these wonderful business owners and found myself nodding and smiling at all of the great advice that was being given and discussed. I always enjoy hearing words of wisdom and encouragement as it uplifts and validates, which goes to show that these discussions are important no matter what stage you’re at in business.

Coaching and Counseling Forum A professional forum dedicated to the psychology and best emotional support of families in global transition.
I was pleasantly surprised by these sessions, in particular, the one titled “Surpassing Resiliency: Helping Global Children Flourish Overseas” by Tami Nelson and Kelli Sanness. For me, I always made sure my children had the option of knowing and understanding American culture, where and how I grew up, but never truly felt I was allowed to try to influence their actual behavior culturally. Sure, it might have a subtle influence and of course they are more aware of American things than perhaps some of their friends, but actually they are growing up British. I touched on this in my book a bit but I never wanted to steam roller them. During this session, I realized that it is important to me that they grow up with my American influence and that I shouldn’t be apologetic about that. In fact, we should all endeavor as a family to embrace my American culture and celebrate that, not just during special occasions, but within the everyday.
Surpassing Resiliency: Helping Global Children Flourish Overseas

Engaging Ambiguity: How learning to Not-Know brings us closer to understanding others (and ourselves) in a diverse world with Jodi Harris
I loved this session but struggled with it a little because the concept was so new to me. The format was interactive and fun, the delivery was professional and friendly. I’m the type of person who gets frustrated by ambiguity and in this session I learned that trying to turn ambiguity on its head and embracing it, can lead to new discoveries and new thought processes. It’s something that probably takes practice too, which I suspect is worth doing.

Misunderstandings, Misperceptions, Missed opportunities – the Challenges of Cross-Cultural Communication with Trisha Carter
Loved this one because it’s basically what I’ve been living with every day of my life since I left the States way back in 1994! It was a joy (and a relief) to be in a room full of people who knew exactly what each other had experienced, no matter which country or which language. There was a lot of chiming in and saying ‘Me too, me too!’ from the group along with lots of laughter and knowing smiles. I still sometimes misunderstand my British husband because the way he said or reacted to something is so culturally different to what I’m used to (it does get easier over time, but my default is still different to the British default). I also think this can happen within the same culture because families and people are constantly being influenced by other cultures. And sometimes, it might simply be down to personalities, quirks and idiosyncrasies. This stuff should be taught in schools ha ha!
Misunderstandings, Misperceptions, Missed opportunities - the Challenges of Cross-Cultural Communication

Sean Ghazi – Keynote
There were actually 4 keynote speakers in total including Robin Pascoe, Ruth Van Reken, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart and Sean Ghazi. I enjoyed all of them. They all resonated with me and it felt incredible to be there listening, watching and taking part in these important conversations. Sean’s talk, for me, was more entertainment than talk which added a different dimension to the conference, one of true celebration on a global scale. His story is fascinating and although there were not many things in his life that I had experienced first hand, I was still able to understand his perspective and relate to some of the things he went through because of my cross cultural background and experiences. I imagine I wouldn’t have been the only one there who recognized that either. What really struck me was his humility, his ability to speak to us in the most open and honest manner, to say, you know what? Things don’t always work out the way you want them to. So what? This is what I’m going to do now and I’m proud of that. It’s easy to forget about our achievements and even easier to forget to be proud of them too. Reflection so that we can learn and improve is great. Reflection on past or current ‘hit the ball out of the park’ achievements which contribute to our confidence, self worth and USPs is essential. But it doesn’t always come naturally… Sean’s talk was a great inspiration for this.
Sean Ghazi keynote at FIGT 2018

A tiny bit of what’s to come next…
Acceptance, Identity and Belonging, my talk on race

Meghan Peterson Fenn is the author of Bringing Up Brits, co-author of Inspiring Global Entrepreneurs, co-founder and Director of Design and Web at Shake It Up Creative. And, she is an award winning expat blogger and mother of three.