Episode 38: Mariam Ottimofiore- "And We Moved To..."
If you have listened to this podcast for awhile, you’ve probably heard me mention Families in Global Transitions. FIGT, for those of you who don’t know, is a welcoming forum that connects the globally mobile to both community and resources. It was started back in 1997, when Ruth Van Reken, who is well known for co-authoring the book Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, invited three expat friends to talk about the needs of their own expat families. Eventually, this became an amazing volunteer-run, non-profit organization, with an international conference.
Why is this important? Well, I was fortunate to be part of the community for years, meeting awesome people at some of the conferences around the world.
And my next guest was one of them.
I suspect I met Mariam Ottimofiore back in 2017 when FIGT held its first conference in the Hague, Netherlands. As a member of the Board of Directors, I was co-leading the Millennial Forum, and Miriam who was also part of that conference as a Parfitt Pascoe Writing Resident, was part of that session. We’ve managed to keep touch over the years and since have connected over discussions on Black and Brown, non-Western perspectives in expat spaces.
Mariam, who is Pakistani, is the author of This Messy Mobile Life, where she uses both her experiences and research to help others create an expat life by design. In this episode, we take a deep dive into her own story. One that is one anchored in her interfaith, intercultural, and international experiences as a Pakistani woman married to an Italian-German man raising global nomads. Her life includes 9 countries and counting, starting with her early years in Bahrain. And given that context, it only makes sense to discuss what she’s learned and the perspective she’s developed as a South Asian Brown woman in these places.
At this point, it should be easy to see why she tilted her book the Messy Mobile Life. Because if there’s anyone who’s had to handle the nuances of identity across four continents, it’s Mariam.
How her parents’ expat experience differed in Bahrain compared to when they lived in the U.S.
Why she values living in Pakistan during her youth/teenage years.
How 9/11 impacted her early college experience.
What it means to be a cultural chameleon and understanding on how to blend cultures.
The advice she gives to individuals on how to make the expat experience work regardless of location
To hear the full episode, click below or listen wherever you get your podcasts.