It all started in 2017, when my husband Tom and I were getting ready to leave Saudi Arabia to settle in New York. This happened after 20 years living and working in Europe, Asia and the Middle-East. I knew the power of the expat community and of social media, so I sent messages to various “expat groups in New York” and got a few replies.
After three months of backpacking around the world and one month of cross country driving from LA to New York, we settled in our new apartment in Manhattan. With no family and only a few friends around, I had to reinvent myself and build a new network.
Then I met Renata. She’s a lovely Brazilian lady, married to a charming Argentinian, Roy (an excellent guitar player and singer). She had replied to my message and offered to meet for lunch. She was studying to become an interior designer, a second career after years in marketing. Today, she runs her own company, offering design services to expats. I was so touched that she took the time for me in this fast-paced city. Over lunch, in an Upper East Side restaurant, Renata gave me tips and offered to connect me to her friends. We stayed in touch, met again, our husbands connected and we all became friends.
Renata kept on telling me about this amazing lady I had to meet, which I finally did, after almost a year. Thus entered into my life Amel, an Algerian citizen, born in India and raised across five countries, married to an Austrian with a sharp wit (almost as sharp as mine, right, Michael?). Amel is a business and marketing coach, speaker and founder of Tandem Nomads. Tom and I clicked with them immediately and welcomed their friendship and generosity.
Both Amel and Renata are involved with Families in Global Transition (FIGT), “a forum for globally mobile individuals, families, and those working with them.” So, I started attending some of their events. And one day, it hit me: I had found my tribe, here in NYC: like-minded people, who don’t need to ask questions, who understand. Different nationalities, races and ethnicities, religions and backgrounds, but people like me, who had to reinvent themselves, learn and grow as they moved from one country to the other. But mostly, people with empathy, cultural awareness and sensitivity. People who know that “where you’re from” and “what college did you go to” do not define who we are…because we are global citizens.
FIGT refers to itself as “The Reunion of Strangers” and I have never felt more at home than with them. I am now a board member of the FIGT NY Chapter, along with Amel, Erica, Renata and Saliha. We, as a team, are committed to make this wonderful family and organization open and welcome to all.
To find out more about FIGT: https://www.figt.org/about
About Renata: https://www.rgcprojects.com/about/
About Amel: https://tandemnomads.com/
May you find your tribe,