We are just back from an amazing trip to visit our son in Thessaloniki, Greece, followed by a conference called Families in Global Transition that encouraged and inspired us.
My heart and brain are full. Being able to be with our son, see his surroundings, meet his friends and absorb the beauty of Thessaloniki was a gift. At one point we stood in a monastery courtyard on a hilltop overlooking the city. A peacock was in front of us, his feathers fanned in a display of turquoise glory, and I thought “I can’t believe I get to be here!” It was a moment of sheer awe and grateful delight.
We left Greece to attend the conference in The Hague, and our world quickly changed from the sun and beauty of Thessaloniki to the busy conference schedule. But this conference is like none other. It is a group of people from all over the world, their stories as varied as their nationalities and ethnicities. We talked for hours and heard fun stories, frustrating stories, and difficult stories of belonging and living where you don’t feel you belong. The conference ended with a panel discussion from millennial third culture kids, a chance to hear from those emerging voices.
I’ve gathered some quotes for you here to give you a taste of the wisdom and beauty of the conference. Some are verbatim, and some I paraphrased as I was trying to write at the same time as listening as intently as I could. Please know this is a fraction of what transpired at the conference, but it captures at least a bit of the atmosphere.
“Equip them so that rather than blend in, they can, with humility and a touch of class, stand out” – Sean Ghazi, Saturday Keynote Speaker
“If you see your parents deal with their stuff, you’ll have permission to deal with your stuff.” Solid advice for parents from millennial third culture kids.
“Name the emotion. Connect with the emotion (what does it feel like?). Choose what to do with that emotion.” Loubelle Butalid, Millennial forum
“A story is not complete until it is told; until it is heard; and until it is understood. So don’t listen just to respond – listen to understand.” Megan Norton, facilitator at Millennial forum
“We leave deposits of ourselves all over the world, and we pick them up when we return to those countries.” Sean Ghazi, Keynote Speaker
“Buying a piece of air to call my own is a big step. It’s nice actually” Kira Miller Fabregat, Millennial forum
“Everyone is feeling excluded, so our responsibility is to hold a conversation so everyone can have a voice.” Millennial forum
“Don’t leave home without a sense of humor! Culture shock is not fatal!” Robin Pascoe, first day Keynote Speaker
“It helped when my mom told me I was a TCK. I could pull it out when I needed it.” Kira Miller Fabregat, Millennial forum
“Parents of TCKs – It’s so important that you allow your children to dream their own dreams!” – Sean Ghazi, Keynote Speaker
“Our differences do not need to be barriers to connecting.” from Lightning Session
“Reconstruct your narrative – adapt your story in order to relate to your new space.” Michael Pollock, concurrent session
“But what I love most (about FIGT) is the sense of community….we are from so many different places, but we belong together.” Ruth Van Reken, Keynote Speaker
“Figure out who you are and then, go out and change the world!” Robin Pascoe, Keynote Speaker
And the one that hit me the hardest….
“In boarding school I thought I was the only one who cried when the lights went out. Finding out others cried too is life changing” Ruth Van Reken – Keynote Speaker
There are so many more rich, beautiful quotes, but this gives you a taste of the amazing voices at the conference. It also reminds me that we need to share our words, tell our stories, because when we do we find community and connection. Indeed, in our increasingly divided world, we can’t afford not to.
Note-wherever possible I have attributed the quote to the correct person, but there are a few that I jotted down so quickly that I forgot who it was. I apologize for that oversight!
Now Available and on sale today! Worlds Apart: A Third Culture Kid’s Journey “…a must read for those wanting to build bridges.” Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, American University, Washington, D.C.
Portions of this book were previously released under Passages Through Pakistan.