Page 19 - FIS World
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Repatriated FIS community members’ countries of residence and years at FIS
Cheungjin Baik
South Korea 2010 – 2015
Danielle Callewaert
Australia 2012 – 2014
Cindy Chua Yeo
Singapore 2011 – 2014
Suzy Fischer
USA 2009 – 2012
Stephanie Hung
Taiwan 2009 – 2012
Katharine Neergard
Denmark 2011– 2016
Sharyn Purewal
Great Britain 2012 – 2015
Doris Watson
Australia 2007 – 2013
of festive periods with family and friends. This makes us feel that we  nally arrived home.”
Our global digital reality is also a powerful engine of strong personal international bonds. It’s the way we live; it’s the way we are. Technology changed the terms of remote personal relationships, and international identity is not easily diluted by home country living – it lasts past the period overcoming reverse culture shock, trying to  nd one’s way in roads that didn’t use to exist, or coins that ceased to circulate. On the road, it is easy to keep updated with life back home. On a 1-10 scale of reverse culture shock, Doris Watson rated herself and her husband a very low “1 or 2” despite their seven years away from Australia, because they kept in frequent contact with old friends and followed daily news broadcasts from back home.
The reason I
stay connected is these friendships embraced you and included you in their lives with no strings. It was all from the heart.
Now that they are back in Australia, it is easy to keep in daily touch with friends overseas. “Globalization has made the world totally di erent,” says Stephanie Hung, who returned to Taiwan four years ago. “Big cities are similar, Google Translate is easy, and we can easily share our daily lives with our friends anywhere. ‘Back home’ has more to do with daily routine, language, cultural festivals and the happy experience of local life sinking in: no need for language dictionaries, comfort food or good weather.” From Singapore, Cindy goes to the heart of the matter with one of her many reasons for staying connected with friendships made overseas: “Maybe our kids will be colleagues in the future.”
A deep sense of friendship, rooted in unconditional acceptance and the expat identity, is the overarching reason for the eight women interviewed for this article to maintain their bonds with people they’d met during their journeys. From Colorado, Suzy writes that she stays connected because of the “shared experience, like we all survived something together, the good, the bad, the ugly”; and the “kindred spirits, relationships meant to stand the test of time and place.” From Taiwan, Stephanie Hung admits that “expat life is not always ‘golden shine’”; she wishes to keep valuable memories and “friendships built on the stone of trust,” people “with
whom you can laugh and cry and
not be afraid of being misunderstood.”
From Sydney, Doris tells me that she stays in touch with six friends that remain very close three years on. From Melbourne, Danielle con des that she wants to keep alive the wonderful memories and amazing friendships made along her journey. South of London, former PTG President Sharyn Purewal pins the unconditional love: “The reason I stay connected is these friendships embraced you and included you in their lives with no strings. It was all from the heart. I will always cherish these friends.”
Globalization was part of what made these interviews possible; they were conducted with a mix of email and a Facebook Messenger private group chat created for this article. The other part was what Stephanie called “the stone of trust” upon a shared history: FIS. I barely know half of the interviewees, but rather Cindy, who
I knew a bit better, drew them in. Many remarked, unprompted, on the outstanding opportunities that exist at FIS for social networking and cementing friendships. Some consider the FIS years among the best of their expat experience – some, of their life. So perhaps there is more about the FIS factor than a common past. Maybe having been at FIS means being a bridge now that lasts long into the future. Like Stephanie wrote: “FIS is a BIG family and people who spent time there won’t feel alone!”
Maria Monteiro FIS Parent
May 2017 FIS World 17

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