Expats – Duty of care?

by Expat Life
Expat Life
Caleb Maekens

“We are equipped – more than others – to make a difference.”

This is a quote from Caleb Meakins one of the speakers from the Families in Global Transition Conference in Bangkok a few weeks ago. Is it true? Are we in a privileged situation that should trigger us to act? What are our responsibilities as expats and global citizens?

“Caleb believes that as global citizens, our position within and across cultures enables us to drive positive social change and embrace the opportunities that challenge brings. ‘You learn to make your environment work’ he explains.”

The privileged expat

Expats, immigrants or global citizens (however you want to call them) are in a unique position. They have lived in different countries and cultural backgrounds. Expats and immigrants are trying constantly to establish a home out of their home countries. They have dealt with bureaucracy, language barriers, and struggles to fit in in an already existing social surrounding. They encountered difficulties, misunderstandings, puzzled faces, embarrassing situations and maybe not always felt welcomed.

Our time abroad allows us to see the difference and understand the source of it. With time and some trial and errors, we start to create a coping strategy to fit in and create a special kind of adaptability and improve our problem solving skills, every employer is looking for. We learn to view “diversity” in a positive way and see beauty and benefits in it. The longer expats and immigrants stay abroad and change cultures, the more they are able to drop judgments and biased language.

Not everyone is able to go through cultural adaptation easily, and not everyone wants to go through it as it is not only fulfilling and convenient but also quite challenging. But this is a personal growth that is granted to those who take the time, opportunity and face the challenges with all it ups and downs. 

There is nothing right or wrong in staying in your home country or in one place. People who have travelled and moved abroad are NOT better or smarter people! Living overseas is a privilege and not everyone gets this privilege, and not everyone wants to have it. However, those who have been abroad are in a unique position to be a voice for a global mindset, for global solutions, for unity and connecting different cultures.

“Global challenges need global solutions from globally-minded people.”

Once we understand we can approach challenges from different angles, we start to learn that there is always a different solution, a particular method or another approach to improve a situation. Living abroad makes us aware of the differences and embrace them. Living abroad is the best teacher in life and definitely improves our problem-solving skills.

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