Finding your tribe


How do you feel when you are about to do something for the first time? Do you have expectations; imagine what it will be like; wonder if you will like it; anticipate what will come out of it? Do you feel excited, apprehensive, curious or nervous?
I had my own set of expectations a few weeks ago, when I decided on short notice (almost on a whim, actually) to attend the annual conference of an organisation called Families in Global Transition (FIGT). I had come across FIGT when I was doing research on cross-cultural transitions and had heard about their conference before, but had been hesitant to fly across the Atlantic just to attend a two-day event. Whatever it was that tipped the balance this time, I am grateful it did.
Before the conference, I was intrigued, as I was going there for the first time. I was looking forward to learning new things and meeting new people. I was hoping to get some inspiration for my work.
I was not expecting to find my tribe.
As soon as I entered the venue where the welcome drinks were taking place on the eve of the conference, I knew that this would be unlike any other conference I had attended before. I felt a vibe. Immediately, I felt welcome and at ease (how shocking is that for an introvert). I thought it must be the effect of the jet lag, but the feeling did not seem to go away.
How did that happen? Everyone I met was friendly, open and unpretentiously warm – despite some impressive credentials. I was talking to like-minded people who seemed engaged and genuinely interested. But it was more than that. Talking about what I do and why, sharing who I am felt natural and uncomplicated. I did not need to explain much. They understood. They were in the same place. Listening to what everyone had to say was stimulating, energizing and, at times, humbling. I felt creative and inspired. I felt embraced. There were moments when I was deeply moved.

I was not the only one feeling that way. There was an amazing sense of solidarity in the air – even among people who hardly knew each other; a sort of convergence of spirits. When it was time to leave, I caught myself feeling not only exhilarated, but also a bit sad – as if I was leaving behind dear friends or family. I realized then that I had found my community. I don’t know many conferences that can do that to you.
On my first day at FIGT, I was impressed when I heard the keynote speaker, famous writer and “global soul” Pico Iyer, say that the first time he attended this conference, he
felt like he had come home. By the time I left, almost 48 hours later, I knew exactly what he meant.


  1. You've captured my feelings as well, Katia. I went to FIGT knowing so many people enjoy it immensely; how could we not, with inspiring people and presentations?! Yet experiencing it for the first time is/was wonderful. Glad to have met you there – looking forward to seeing all the fascinating projects that may come out of this conference.

    1. It was lovely meeting you Linda. Looking forward to reading your book soon!

  2. So sad to have missed this FIGT conference. I've been going since 2010 and had made it a point to always go see my tribe.

    1. Looking forward to meeting you at FIGT next year!

  3. creative descriptive article!

  4. Anonymous

    It must have been a great feeling especially that writing is a solitary occupation.. keep the spirit up and it is so great that you felt home in this context…

  5. I did not attend the FIGT Conference for the first time after going 4 straight years in a row. (due to an international move). I know I missed not only meeting again with a huge group of globally minded people, all converged into one conference hotel, but also with my dear tribe. This tribe, who not only had me feeling at home the very first time and every meeting since, also continues to inspire me with new creativity and ways of being, serving a very important role in bringing awareness to our lifestyle of living internationally. It can be the first place that we begin to understand all the implications, ramifications and growth that can happen when we decide to move to 'at first' foreign soil. FIGT also has given me a platform to share as a facilitator what I have learned through my own experiences, from my studies and my Expat and Lovepat clients. FIGT is a great place to be! I will not miss my tribe next year.

    1. Well, you had a very relevant reason for missing it 🙂
      I found impressive how so many attendants at FIGT had variations of the same experience. It is a powerful connection.
      Looking forward to meeting you at next year's conference!

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