I was recently invited to give a workshop for expat families to the parents of the British School in Bucharest. Here are my reflections on the experience.
I practice Linguistic Empathy and I expect you to do the same. Please bear with me if my English is not perfect.
I called it “The expatriate family: challenges and benefits“. I had often talked about this topic, both in presence and online. In addition to having created a family that was born and developed abroad, for years I have been immersed in issues linked to mobility both out of direct experience and through the site that I created in support of expatriate women and their families in the world, Expatclic.com.
I really like organizing this type of events because it allows me to use my creativity in full swing. I also think that there is no greater and stimulating challenge than creating materials and training moments by channeling one’s own experience. This was a fantastic occasion for me in Bucharest. I left with the trolley full of workshop material, the cards of the Coaching by Values game on top of all.
In fact, as you know, I love playing. I firmly believe that games in intercultural (and general) training are fundamental to leave something behind, to deeply penetrate the concepts you want to share.
I had planned three games at this workshop for expat families. The first was a classic icebreaker, the Good Morning Game, which is always a hit. I often use it in my workshops to warm up the environment in a cheerful way and engage participants from the very beginning in the topics that I intend to discuss.
The second was the above mentioned game of Coaching by Values. It was the first time I used it live after getting certified, and with a large group of people, and it was an absolute success. Many of the parents (as often happens) told me that they had never stopped really thinking about what values their family rests on. And they certainly had not reflected on the relationship between personal, family, school and national values.
The third was a game that can be adapted to various training situations, and which was particularly useful in this workshop for expat families. With a simple trick, participants are made aware of how much moving to a new country means erasing their identity and having to go through a process of reconstruction and adaptation in the new place. This game was also received with enthusiasm, and served to raise awareness of a situation that it is often difficult to verbalize, but that has a huge impact on the balance of the whole family.
It was nice to compare the different experiences: there were Italian, Romanian, English, Austrian, Brazilian, Russian parents. Some were at their first relocation, others had a longer history. They were all, however, looking for ways to make the best of it, both for them and for their children.
Because this is what these workshops do: to compare each one’s experiences in a guided and structured way, in order to deepen, reflect and understand things that can feel overwhelming when faces them alone.