- There is a transformative potential inherent in the expatriate and repatriate experience.
- Taking an intercultural orientation helps us successfully engage that experience, including our cultural confusion and transitions fatigue.
- Engaging the transformative potential inherent in the expatriate and repatriate experience, and taking an intercultural orientation to our every-day lives, is a developmental process.
The Transformative Potential
The expatriate and repatriate experience provides you with opportunities to become more fully present in your life. Precisely because they are fraught with ambiguity, frequently confusing intercultural encounters, and often significant isolation from known support systems, they present you with unparalleled opportunities to “wake up” to your authentic self. Living as an expatriate or repatriate takes on a dimension at one and the same time supportive, spirited, and immanently practical when you start to explore ways of being and of interacting with the world that begin from the inside-out and that invite you to disentangle internal experience from external circumstance. You become able to free your attention from habitual patterns, to create shifts in viewpoint, and to explore from a deep place of personal vision the possibilities that arise when you move beyond expectations, limitations, and fixed identities.
An Intercultural Orientation
What would happen if you began to think of yourself as an interculturalist? Expatriate and repatriate lives are filled with exactly the kinds of experiences that the intercultural field is passionate about—international transitions, adjustment to new cultural contexts, cultural identity challenges and multicultural identity development, the complexities of communicating across difference, and living with ambiguity and uncertainty every day.
Cultivating an intercultural orientation requires more from you than taking part in standard pre-departure, on-site, and re-entry services. It requires the commitment to intentionally and purposefully cultivate your own intercultural competence. Doing so is not simply about building a knowledge base of culture-specific information (business or social protocols in Malaysia, for example); doing so is about engaging life practices for self-reflecting, self-managing, and co-creating across cultural differences. At its core, taking an intercultural orientation as we are presenting it here means becoming an intentionally creative and generative force as you live, work, and raise a family among cultures.
Cultivating an intercultural orientation has much to offer you:
The intercultural is about navigating cultural differences, within the multinational expatriate community as well as with host nationals; simply put, you will become more effective in intercultural situations.
The intercultural emphasizes a learning orientation; it reorients you through very practical strategies from being a ‘responder to circumstances’ to a ‘creator of experience.’ Challenges are profoundly reframed into opportunities for personal and professional development.
The intercultural begins with knowing yourself; it encourages the kind of reflection and purposeful attention that supports you in articulating the life you want to create, and then crafting a life in alignment with that vision.
The intercultural gives a theoretical context to personal experience—your own and your family’s. No longer is your experience terminally unique; you can position it within a research literature and within a bigger picture for your own life development.
With an intercultural orientation, you need never be bored again. The most simple of interactions and experiences becomes fodder for your learning as your daily life becomes your living laboratory.
Intercultural skills and competencies translate out. The intercultural is about communicating across difference; since to some degree at least every interaction involves a communication across difference, taking an intercultural orientation allows all your interactions to take on new power and purposefulness.
Life is about living it at your highest and best, whatever that means to you. Taking an intercultural orientation is about being intentional with your expatriate and repatriate life; doing so directly supports you living from your highest and best.
A Developmental Process
You can in each moment choose to live your life in alignment with your highest and best. In doing so you bring to that commitment everything of who you have been and of what you have learned. You move forward from there to explore the full possibility and promise of your life.
Living in alignment with your highest and best, however, is a developmental process. That is, it takes practice and a commitment to that practice! The good news is that as with any practice, it becomes easier the longer and more consistently that you engage it.
Sometimes it helps to have a coach along the way.
For more information without obligation of fees or expenses, please contact Barbara Schaetti to discuss your interests and our services.
Please note that requests for research guidance and professional development information may be invoiced at Transition Dynamics’ standard consultation rates.