U.S. President Barack Obama’s words in reaction to Tuesday’s brutal and ruthless attacks in the center Europe’s democracy, in Brussels:

“…..what happened today is another reminder that the world must unite. We must be together regardless of nationality, or race, or faith…” This exactly is where the conference Families In Global Transition – FIGT- which I attended for the first time, is all about: about being together.



The goal Families In Global Transition set for itself is the following:


‘Families in global transition is a welcoming forum for globally mobile individuals, families and those working with them.

We promote cross-sector connections for sharing research and development best practices that support the growth, success and well-being of people crossing cultures around the world.’


For the very first time this conference was organized in Amsterdam around the following topic: “Bringing Empathy and expertise to the Evolving Global family’ .


I would like to share a couple of highlights and insights with you about this conference, which hopefully inspires you to join next year as well, as it will be held next year again in the Netherlands. Truly, the openhearted, open minded and welcoming feeling was like taking a warm bath at the right temperature.

Just at a glance:

  • Amazing keynote speakers
  • Inspiring concurrent sessions
  • Interesting kitchen table conversations
  • Dynamic ignite sessions

So many topics

Also I was absolutely blown away by the huge variety and diversity of subjects. Again, just sharing a couple with you here:

– when home spans the globe: a look at the third culture family

– today’s migration: working with refugees and their families

– research forums/evolving TCK- third culture kids- profile: research

findings on identity and belonging, with practical applications in

today’s world

– digital living forum

– living in the Ghetto or true globalists/from expat bubble to integration

– mindfulness and stress

– moving across gender cultures: the evolving role of the father in the

21st century

– living abroad in sickness and health: navigating language and cultural

barriers in foreign health system

– when love runs out: helping expats cope with relationship breakdown

– stuck in the ‘50’s: addressing hidden gender inequality in expat women

– parental guidance: long distance care for aging parents

– managing dual careers in global transition

– holding together: the crucial role of an empathic community when loss

strikes the globally mobile family


One of those moments when nature calls right on time

Upon arrival at the conference venue, after some traveling, I went straight to the ladies where I very spontaneously run into Ruth Van Reken. She is the acclaimed author of Third Culture Kids and was an important reason for me to attend the conference. So there I was, barely 3 minutes at the venue and talking to her! At Ruth’s kitchen table FIGT was founded. Why? Her answer is, as lost of her comments deeply humorous:‘We started doing something because somebody had to do it!’ Since then it has grown to include people from all over the world so that the most recent conference featured 200 people from 6 continents and 36 countries. She is also very present in the moment, approachable and humble person. I felt so privileged talking to her, she made my day! So thank you Ruth for getting this started in your present, personal and professional way. The world so needs this!

During the conference Ruth Van Reken presented Enlarging our Tents: Using Lessons from the Past to Create Space for the New

‘The world is in a whirl. We feel it every time we turn on the news. Never before in history has there been so much mobility and cultural ‘mixing and matching’ as we see in today’s fast changing world. This much change can easily create a desire to retreat to the familiar, to play it safe. But that is not a luxury many families from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences often have.

For various reasons, they must deal with the implications of these unprecedented changes on a deeply personal level as they navigate their own particular story of global transition.



But global changes also mean that many of these families no longer fit the traditional prototype of the past ‘expat’ story. How do we as a community ‘enlarge our tents’ to look at who might be sharing this space and how we can help each other instead of retreating to past familiarities alone?


By looking at how we as an FIGT community have learned lessons in the past to help us care well for the more traditional globally nomadic families, we will see how using similar principles can help us continue to understand and meet the needs of today’s evolving global families as well.’


After Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels the awareness where we urgently need to re-ACT upon in that we must be together and we must enlarge our tents in creating a more save and peaceful world for each and everyone.


23wed1-blog427-v2foto: Oliver Munday

Wishing you a compassionate Easter.