I have learned SO much about community in the past few years! I realized it most poignantly when I began researching and putting together my opening keynote speech for the Families in Global Transition conference (March, 2017, held in The Hague, Netherlands). What I began to understand was that this obsession actually began at an early age. Because of our “other” status as a family of color in the early 1970s, as a family who chose to homeschool, and as a family who experience divorce, the need for intentional community was strong.
Community is not something simply nice to have, like a first class ticket.
Community is not something that we can take or leave, as you would choose sparkling water over still. NOT experiencing community is no longer an option for our physical, emotional and mental well being when identify as a globally mobile individual or family.
Community (and it’s more practical action – building a tribe) is that thing we can not afford to miss out on. A community is the very thread that brings us together to advocate on behalf of each other. It allows us to bring comfort to one another, and offer support – sometimes when we don’t know yet that we need it. Inside the sense of belonging that community brings, follows a set of resources, balance, and strength to do brave things in this world. -Naomi Hattaway
It gives me a feeling of safety, of belonging and of something in common with others. It makes me feel as though I would have someone to share my stories with, a friend to explore with, and a relationship to grow with someone else, outside of my immediate family. I talk more about this in massive detail in my “Community Definition” blog post if you want to click over and read, and am also discussing it in a collaborative way with Emmy McCarthy inside our Redefining Communities project – which we are excited to be bringing to the world in 2018.
A record 232 million people worldwide are living outside their country of birth, and international companies continue to develop their business overseas – Source: United Nations 2015 official data
If this many people are moving in any given year, why on earth is it SO hard to find like-minded people in the new locations we find ourselves to be plopped down? Why are so many people googling “expat support” in record numbers? I think it’s simple. Unfortunately, we don’t walk around with beacons over our heads shouting out “I need a friend!” Often our need for a friendship is so great that it causes us to become shy or quiet. Sometimes our need for a new friendship is so great that it might do the opposite and cause us to be boisterous and “Act Out” in our pursuit of finding our tribe. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a symbol of sorts — flashing blue above our heads — so others could seek us out? Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an instant opportunity to find our tribe, to locate our community?
Insert Families in Global Transition (FIGT) as one organization working to solve this problem! FIGT provides members with information and resources, ranging from webinars, updates on issues relating to the globally mobile, and the opportunity to develop and connect with networks of like-minded people. FIGT also shares research on themes critical to globally mobile families such as identity and belonging. The volunteer-run, not-for-profit also fosters and promotes cross-sector connections for sharing research and developing best practices that support the growth, success and well-being of people crossing cultures around the world.
This coming conference will be EXCITING as it will celebrate twenty years of growth in understanding and positively impacting the lives of the globally mobile community. The conference will be held March 8-10, 2018 at the World Trade Center in The Hague, the Netherlands, and will feature prominent speakers from the community (one of which is me, alongside many amazing and brilliant members of the Triangle community who will also be speaking) who will share their experience and expertise on the conference theme of “Diverse voices celebrating the past, present and future of globally mobile lives.”
The three-day event and anniversary celebration will be packed with keynotes, round-table discussions and forums led by experts and researchers in the globally mobile field including headliners Robin Pascoe (CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS!), Sir Mark Moody-Stuart and Sean Ghazi. These sessions will analyze the past twenty years of our understanding of globally mobile lives and continue to build bridges in our mission to encourage tolerance and embrace diversity.
They invite globally mobile individuals and families, those who sponsor and support them, as well as dedicated researchers to join us in sharing perspectives on challenges and solutions related to a globally mobile lifestyle. Register today and take advantage of early bird pricing until January 15, by visiting the Families in Global Transition website.
This year, I will be speaking alongside the amazing Emmy McCarthy, on the topic of The Power of One: How to LEAD the change you wish to see in the world. Our session will utilize case studies as well as real-life examples from our years of community building and leadership, and will include attendee participation. We will bring to light the various ways in which ordinary citizens can utilize their global experiences and life education to affect change within society, provide leadership to their communities and help create opportunities to seek out others in operating in the same arena. We will explore the leadership models of noted experts and introduce a unique framework that works beautifully in today’s society – with support and a built-in network FOR our new leadership model as well as true value to the members of society being impacted by these leaders.