I’m finally back on San Franciscan soil, after a somewhat arduous journey wrestling the demands of antique luggage with unreliable closures, assorted electronic items requiring security inspection, a full size umbrella and lack of sleep. I looked rather like a frazzled cross between Mary Poppins, Inspector Gadget and Lucille Ball.
The Families in Global Transition conference was overwhelming, both in the quality and variety of presenters, the wonderful new friends made, and the sense of welcome and community on display. For the benefit of those not lucky enough to attend, I’ve picked my top five lessons learned at FIGT 2012.
1. They don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. In a room full of experts who illuminate every corner of the expat world, they haven’t forgotten the feeling of being the nervous newcomer, and the difference a warm welcome makes. Especially when you walk into a bar alone.
2. Nothing is new under the sun, but the way we experience and express it will be. There were over 180 people who have been relocating worldwide for many, many years, every one had their own individual, unique story. Often published by Jo Parfitt..
3. Borders, governments, expat packages and names change, but our priorities rarely do. Family, health and happiness were themes that ran throughout the conference, regardless of the nationality, citizenship, gender or role of the speaker.
4. Everyone struggles at some point. The most precious and empowering moments were of capable, strong, competent people sharing their stories not just of success, but also of defeat. It was a wonderful reminder that we are all human, and all both fallible and vulnerable, no matter how successful we might appear.
5. We all carry both baggage and the bruises to prove it. In this particular case, 2 vintage leather suitcases and an antique folding typewriter. I would like to personally kiss whoever invented suitcases with wheels..