This is not a blog to entice bored or jaded readers with thoughts of what expat women may or may not (usually may not) get up to overseas. This is a serious arena for informing as many people as possible of a fabulous new book, just published . . .
. . . that should have the salivating voyeurs clicking on to something else whilst we get to grips with something I think is very important.
First off I’d like you to know I get to read an awful lot of books and I get to decide which I’d like to review. Generally, but not always, this means I’m going to enjoy them and write something positive. Occasionally I pick up a book I’m sure I’m going to like but a few pages in, stop in my tracks, sit up, really start to notice and think “wow”. Expat Women : Confessions, 50 Answers to your Real-Life Questions about Living Abroad is one of them.
For those of you who don’t know (are there any?) www.expatwomen.com is the largest global website helping women living overseas. It’s fabulous; full of great information. I make no apology for copying this extract
“ExpatWomen.com was created by two friends, Andrea Martins and Jill
Lengré, when they were both living in Mexico City. Their dream of connecting
expatriate women worldwide was a result of their combined 20 years of experience
Andrea and Jill worked together on the web site for two years (one year prior to launch on 16 January 2007, then one year after launch) before Jill repatriated to the United States.”
Obviously to get all the information you need please head on over to the site when you’ve finished here, there’s also a link on my sidebar.
Expatwomen have a page on their site called ‘confessions’ – a problem page for expat women maintained by Andrea and Victoria Hepworth (a Kiwi and trained psychologist). The problems are sent in by real expat women world-wide, and often relate to challenges or issues they keep silent about for fear of being the only one with the problem or seeming negative in a world where upbeat and positive are the social currency.
The result has been an incredible opportunity to look at the kind of challenges expat women globally are dealing with in their nomadic life choice, irrespective of age, number of international moves, ages of their children, or the giving up/setting up their own careers.
What Martins and Hepworth have done is break down these issues into identifiable chapters – Settling in, Career and money, Raising children, Relationships, Mixed emotions and Repatriation. Each of these categories is further subdivided, for example, ‘Realtionships’ is broken down into My trailing man, Intercultural couple, He wants to go home, Keeping secrets, Divorce abroad, Picking up the pieces, Domestic violence, Expat infidelity, Online betrayal and A lonely affair. You get the picture.
As I started to read, avidly I admit, I appreciated the way each chapter had been formulated, the question and answer format backed with a phenomenal wealth of information.
What blew me away was how seriously Martins and Hepworth regarded the problems in front of them. You never get the feeling the answers are glib or text-book; they understand that behind each letter is a woman in turmoil who feels their only lifeline is to write to on online problem page.
That’s what stopped me in my tracks. Each submission represented a woman lost and alone, often afraid and here was a place their voice could be heard. Their issues and fears are handled with respect, compassion and a deep understanding. Not content with a trite answer Matins and Hepworth give practical options, alternatives and resources in a measured voice which I believe would instill hope in anyone.
They encourage gently, sensitive to the person behind the problem, in a way I’ve not seen in a book like this. The book finishes with a wonderful wealth of websites and online resources.
I don’t care how many times you’ve moved or how old you are this book really is essential for reference at any point in the expat process. You may not need it now, but maybe one day you will, or a dear friend might need help and you can pass it on.
Go out and get a copy, buy your friends a copy, this is a valuable tool helping all of us over the humps and bumps of overseas life. And no, I do not have a vested interest in this book, I am just a reader who likes to pass on the news when a book this important comes along.