Or ‘The Remaining 6 Things I learnt at the Washington conference of FIGT’. (For details of the Families in Global Transition organisation, see this website: http://www.figt.org/). This is Part Two from yesterday’s blog and I couldn’t resist this beautiful image of the cherry blossoms, although they did not quite look like that last week, more like a hesitant pink mist. *
7. No matter how many coffee breaks, working lunches and dinners there are, you will never get a chance to meet all the interesting people you want to meet (including all your Twitter friends). I keep looking at the attendee list and saying: ‘Oh, no, he was there too? Oh, no, how could I have missed her?’
8. One group of expats that was under-represented are the academics. So, Ph.D. students,post-docs and lecturers from different cultures who meet abroad, get married and then move on to the next position. They do represent a different kettle of fish than diplomats or missionaries or army personnel, because in many cases the spouses want to continue their research careers as well, so the ‘trailing spouse’ scenario is even more unacceptable. On the other hand, I wonder if there are differences in how these highly-educated parents are talking to their children during these global transitions.
9. You go there for the big ideas, but you come back with lots of little practical tips. I now have a clearer understanding of how to add the pesky Twitter button on my blog, where to find excellent stock photos and what refreshments to serve to your international writers’ group.
10. You might even find yourself a job. Having exchanged business cards and kept in touch, a number of participants at previous conferences were top of mind when companies were looking to recruit specialists.
11. Don’t forget your camera ! I did and was cursing about it daily. It would have been an excellent opportunity to capture images of all the friends I made, to conduct short interviews with the numerous experts there… and perhaps to have my own pictures of cherry blossoms.
12. Take a little bit of time off. No matter how passionate you are about your subject area, the long days in an enclosed space, overdosing on caffeine, will wear you out. Do recharge your batteries and see something of the town you are in, especially if you are as fortunate with the weather as we were last week. I used to work a few months a year in DC, so I didn’t feel the need to go to all the museums this time, but I did reconnect with some dear friends, go for walks in old favourite haunts and enjoy authentic Mexican food (which is a bit harder to find in the UK). It felt like a mini-break and I am sure helped with the digestion of information!
What do you like best about international conferences? And what annoys you most about them? Perhaps next time I will talk about that.
* For the original image and more details about the cherry blossom festival in DC, look at this website http://chuvachienes.com/2010/03/28/the-national-cherry-blossom-festival-in-washington-dc/