Leveraging the power of cartoons and gamification to boost cultural competence

Leveraging the power of cartoons and gamification to boost cultural competence

In this weeks podcast Lucy Fogarty and Mohit Rajan founders of Culture Buff Games talk about developing country specific cartoon games to teach adults and teens about cultural values, emerging trends for online learning tools in the intercultural training field, the benefits of cartoons and gamification over traditional learning methodologies to impart cultural knowledge and the drivers behind future demand for online learning solutions in the intercultural field.

Culture Buff Games is a company that develops country specific interactive cartoon games to help adults and teenagers learn about cultural values in a way that is fun and engaging, leveraging the power of cartoons and gamification to boost cultural awareness. Culture Buff Games has a suite of games on American values and British values. Each game has 13 cartoons depicting historical events or contemporary real-world examples to highlight important American or British cultural values.  Culture Buff India and China will be released next year.

During the interview Mo outlines the emerging trends for online learning tools in the intercultural training field

  • Changes in the way we impart and consume cultural knowledge
  • Increase in shorter assignments and need for innovative tools to quickly thrive in new culture
  • Millennial preference for bite size, actionable and relevant knowledge, accessible anytime, anywhere
  • Millennial preference for gamification of content

Lucy talks about the universal appeal of cartoons for both adults and teenagers. She highlights some of the benefits of cartoons as educational tools and their effectiveness over traditional learning.

  • Visual illustrations of cartoons boost retention and recall of knowledge.
  • Cartoons increase engagement by arousing curiosity and facilitate accelerated learning.
  • Cartoons are an effective trigger for opening up discussion and enabling the voicing of opinions.

Mo highlights some of the benefits of gamification

  • Gamification appeals to millennials who enjoy learning via game like experiences
  • Gamification induces a spirit of competition and boosts participation in learning
  • Gamification boosts application of knowledge via problem solving and promotes accelerated learning.
  • Gamification reinforces learning through spaced repetition.

Lucy talks about drivers behind future growth trends in the cultural training sector

  • Growth in the cross-cultural training sector globally over the coming years will be driven by rise in expatriate assignments and demand by corporations for online learning
  • Growth in online learning driven by cost saving, flexibility and scalability
  • Latest trend gaining momentum is gamification of content.
  • Need to find the right balance between face to face training and online learning solutions.

Visit  CULTURE BUFF GAMES to see the preview video and sign up for a free trial.



















Finding Support for Expats When Pregnant Abroad

Finding Support for Expats When Pregnant Abroad

Expat life impacts on every aspect of our lives and no experience can be more personal and pertinent in this respect than pregnancy and child-birth. Arriving in a new location while pregnant can be challenging as I know. We moved to live on the island of Madeira when I was three months pregnant with my second child eleven years ago.

Knowing no-one and not having the normal support systems of parents, relatives and best friends back home, not speaking the local language or understanding the medical systems can add to the stress of the adjustment process. But if you know what questions to ask, and are able to calmly identify what kind of support you want and keep an open mind then there is every chance you will find the care you need. In this interview I talk to Karen Wilmot – The Virtual Midwife. The conversation provides invaluable tips and advice.

Karen has been involved in the arena of women’s health for many years. Working in the Middle East, Karen came to feel that pregnancy and childbirth were not being treated with the respect and honour they deserved – becoming too procedural and technocratic.

Karen wanted to support women at a deeper level and so eight years ago she started to support women her way and a year ago opened a centre for pregnant women in Oman. This is a delightful conversation about the experience of pregnancy and childbirth.

We talk about:

  • The challenges women and their partners face when managing their pregnancy and child birth as an expat.
  • What Karen means by supporting pregnancy and childbirth from a holistic perspective.
  • Karen’s take on FEAR and her suggestions on how to manage those fearful thoughts and feelings.
  • What questions to ask and when.
  • We finish with Karen’s five tips for creating a calming birth environment.

We hope you enjoy this interview and please do share with your friends.

To learn more about Karen and her online programme you can go to www.thevirtualmidwife.com where you can also connect with Karen.

At the end of the podcast I talk about two books Knocked Up Abroad: Stories of pregnancy, birth and raising a family in a foreign country and Knocked Up Abroad Again: Baby bumps, twists and turns around the globe by Lisa Ferland. You can find them on Amazon and listen to my interview with Lisa HERE

For clarity, these are not affiliate links. These are resources that I believe may be helpful to you. Please conduct your own research to ensure you are making an informed decision before buying. 

Keeping Calm and Serene Amongst the Chaos of International Relocation

Keeping Calm and Serene Amongst the Chaos of International Relocation

It is ‘that’ time of year again. Assignees and their families are embarking on new international moves, others returning after long summer breaks. Settling and adjusting to new routines, schools and jobs can be exciting and exhilarating on the one hand, and if we’re honest, pretty exhausting on the other.

This week on the Thriving Abroad Podcast I talk to Dr Tami Nelson and Dr Kelli Jones Sanness from Therapy Solutions Abroad, our subject is mental well-being and it is a conversation that is definitely worth your time.

The truth is everyone reacts differently to change and transition. Good days filled with excitement and awe at our new experience can be replaced by ones where it can all feel too much. Such is the roller coaster ride of international relocation – it is important to remember it is all a part of the adjustment process:

‘It is natural to feel distress and under some pressure from this huge move.’

As you settle into new routines now is a good time to reflect on your schedule and consider your personal sense of well-being.

A research report by Talking Talent highlighted that in the UK 71% of workers have experienced burnout at least once in their working lives, an alarming statistic and one that underlined for me the importance of being proactive and taking care of oneself as an expat.

Organisations can also help by thinking about the relocation pressure points for assignee’s and their families and providing appropriate and timely support.

So, in the spirit of well-being I encourage you to put your feet up and listen to the advice of Tami and Kelli as we talk about the issue of expat stress and mental well-being.

We encourage you to recognise it is a natural experience to feel distress and under some pressure – for a huge move this is a normal experience’.

During the conversation we talk about:

  • How stress varies from person to person, we are all different after all!
  • What can contribute to a sense of overwhelm and distress.
  • The importance of setting realistic expectations both before and during an international relocation.
  • The symptoms to look out for that may indicate unhealthy levels of stress.
  • Help – and where to find it.
  • How to help yourself including a tip – independence is not always a good thing.

‘If you take care of yourself you have the ability to take care of others. If you’re lacking in that then you’re not going to be able to give anything to anyone else’

To learn more about Tami and Kelli visit their website HERE

Tami and Kelly have also shared links to a number of articles they have published recently:



International Relocation – What would a framework for success look like?

International Relocation – What would a framework for success look like?

I’ve moved location 7 times and house 12 times in the last 17 years. I know this is not a winner in terms of number and frequency of moves amongst the international community, but it does mean that change has been a pretty big constant in my families lives. In fact, having now been back in the UK for nearly three years I do find myself gazing interestingly at international removal lorries and wondering, with a modicum of jealousy about their upcoming transitions. There is something addictive about new beginnings…. Book Cover

International relocation is a massive undertaking, one that is not always recognised as such at the outset – you can’t know what you don’t know. In this podcast this week, Evelyn and I talk about how our experiences lead us to write our book THRIVING ABROAD, which is launched today. 

I (Louise) remember our first move to Madrid as an exciting but challenging time. My early euphoria at not having to get up for work, soon morphed into a sense of aimlessness. There are only so many times you can go to the gym in any one week, and with a husband who was working looooong hours I was initially home alone far too much. Spanish lessons were a distraction -but I soon found verb conjugation on my shady balcony was no substitute for real conversation.

Relocating to live in Lisbon several years later, admittedly not a huge distance away, was enough to unsettle and mean starting all over again. We battled with bureaucracy and unpleasant neighbours (a very long story) – suffice to say it was not the best start. We were responsible for the entire move, no company support at all… yep it was a stressful time. 

What I realise now looking back is that over time we developed a process and way of coping with the change. Each move is bitter sweet, saying goodbye is sad, not easy way around that, but fortunately it is balanced with the excitement of new beginnings and opportunities. While the emotions are never easy, over time the template for relocation grows and each move becomes more automatic and hopefully organised.

Our greatest relocation moment was when we managed to organize a move out from one house in 24 hours, from phoning the removal company, to packing up furniture, possessions and kids – all gone overnight – we were seriously impressed with ourselves. And no, we were not running from the law, well not directly. Our landlord was about to have all possessions repossessed by the bailiffs and ours were not differentiated from hers. My husband managed to sweet talk the bailiff into returning just a few days later – giving us time to make a very quick exit.

But I digress, back to international relocation:

There is a flow to the whole process. A rhythm and sequence of practical and emotional ups and downs. No two moves are ever the same; culture, location, jobs and life stages account for that – but there are similarities and we can learn certain things from one move that can be applied to others.

THRIVING ABROAD the book was born from this experience of change and the lessons learned along the way. It is the book I would have loved to have all those years ago in Madrid. The Framework for Thriving Abroad reminds us to put ourselves at the centre of the relocation process. To gain clarity about what makes it a valuable experience for us from a professional, personal and family perspective. Professional clarity would have certainly helped me in those early years, I drifted for more years than I care to remember.

It also emphasises the importance of setting realistic expectations. Ensuring that the decision is founded on an understanding of both the opportunities and challenges of such a massive life change.

Written with input from expat experts, experienced expats and global mobility professionals, THRIVING ABROAD offers a guide to thriving professionally and personally through the experience of international mobility.

It is relevant to anyone who is:

  • considering embarking on an international relocation with their organisation as an international assignee.
  • considering embarking on an international relocation with their partner.
  • preparing to relocate abroad.
  • living abroad already but wondering where the experience will take them next, professionally and personally.

Also, available to all owners of the book is the accompanying workbook – a helpful tool to support you through the relocation process.

You can learn more about THRIVING ABROAD: The definitive guide to professional and personal relocation success HERE

What people are saying:

‘I wish this book had been written sixteen years ago when we first relocated; it could have saved us learning a lot of lessons the hard way! This book will prove invaluable for anyone considering an overseas move and will help them organize their thoughts in what can be an entirely overwhelming process.’ Suzanna Standring, Chartered Accountant, USA.

It’s an indispensable read for the assignees and their partners, a book to keep handy in the messiest moment of a family’s life. With its check lists and adaptation strategies, it’s a great tool for coping with rationality and order to change and transition.’ Marta Guarneri, expat with 20 years of experience both as assignee and partner

You can listen to the authors: Louise Wiles and Evelyn Simpson talk about the book HERE on iTunes

Go straight to AMAZON to buy the book online.


What should expat organisational support include and does it really matter?

What should expat organisational support include and does it really matter?

When managing home based employees the extent of the employee, employer relationship is usually clear. The organisation may run a few family days, invite partners to celebratory meals from time to time, but generally work and family life have clear(ish) boundaries.

Put an international relocation into the picture and suddenly the delineation between work and family begin to break down. The employees work and role takes the lead and in a way that impacts on every family members lives. The partner often takes on a supportive role, facilitating many aspects of the relocation. That is not to say their career necessarily dies, but for the majority it is put on hold. In this weeks podcast, Marta Guarneri shares her research into the impact of family dynamics on the expatriation cycle, and how organisations can better support the relocation process.

The future of the whole family, their expectations and lives become inextricably linked to the assigning organisation. The psychological contract; the unwritten set of expectations of the employment relationship, encompasses not only the now more complex expectations of the employee, but also those of the partner and family. Denise Rousseau talks about the psychological contract including informal arrangements, mutual beliefs, common ground and perceptions between two parties. It is something that is not fixed, but evolves constantly based on communication.

So, imagine the impact these two different perspectives on HR involvement and connection with partners might have on the psychological contract and the level of engagement and commitment to the assignment experience.

  • One HR manager was clear that they needed to know people so they could offer the best support. They wanted to know what they were dealing with, to offer support that was valued, develop family loyalty.
  • Another HR manager was loathed to create an open channel of communication with anyone other than the assignee. They feared that should they encourage a connection with the partner, the partner would exploit it and become a nuisance.

Which opinion was right?

Well, in my opinion the first, although I am pretty sure the second HR Manager would do a good job at justifying the need to keep the relationship at a distance. After all, the written contract is with the employee, lines should not be crossed and resources are not limitless.

And yet, over the years I have heard partners talk so many times about the role they play, the support they provide, and sadly in many cases the absence of any recognition. Often it is the small gestures that make the difference.

Marta’s research: The Impact of Family Dynamics on the Expatriation Cycle, aimed to understand the common factors that foster the success or failure of international assignments and to isolate some of the best HR practices that could impact performance, retention and organisational commitment. 

Her results were fascinating. Here are some soundbites to spark you interest:

  • It is the ineffectiveness of organisational support that is the issue.
  • The key is to know what makes an efficient package, to maximise it, not waste it.
  • Understanding the needs of the assignee and family is key.
  • Relocation support in situ so often is inadequate and represents wasted resources.
  • Flexibility is key when meeting the needs of a new generation who expect flexibility.

Want to listen to more PODCASTS? Head over to the Thriving Abroad Podcast channel – HERE.

Please feel free to share amongst your networks. My goal is to grow this podcast audience 10 fold by the end of 2017.

How to Support Elderly Relatives While Living Overseas.

How to Support Elderly Relatives While Living Overseas.

Supporting Elderly Relatives from Abroad.

One of the more challenging aspects of relocating internationally is the need to leave loved ones behind. Sometimes this involves leaving children at boarding school or at university. Often it means leaving our parents and relatives, and as they age the challenges involved in caring for them from afar can become increasingly complex and stressful. Of course, we want the best for them, but it can be difficult to know how best to support them when we are not available to visit regularly.

Of course, we cannot future proof our lives and the lives of those we love from all adversity but we can put in place contingencies that will support us and our loved ones in difficult times.

On the Podcast today, I talk to Alison Hesketh from Time Finders. Time Finders exists to provide:

‘Practical and emotional support for older people and their families in changing circumstances.’

Twelve years ago, Alison’s mother found herself no longer able to manage the house she had lived in for many years. Alison helped her to sort through a lifetime’s possessions and settle into her new home in a new community. This experience lead to the realisation that there was a pressing need for a service to help others in a similar position and so Time Finders was born.

This conversation is pertinent for you if you:

  • Have parents or elderly relatives and don’t want your sense of responsibility for their care to prevent you from relocating or continuing to live abroad.
  • Want to better understand the issues and challenges that may be encountered as your relatives age.
  • Want to be prepared for a crisis with a well thought through, and most importantly agreed contingency plan.
  • Are a silver surfer yourself, over 50, yep that would be me too, and want to think about how you can prepare for your more senior years responsibly.

As Alison says during our conversation:

‘If you have a contingency plan it can reduce immeasurably the level of anxiety you face when somebody becomes ill or an emergency happens….. A contingency plan is not just about your parents or relatives it is about helping you to avoid the blind panic that comes at the point an emergency arises.

You can learn more about Time Finders HERE, where they are happy to offer a complimentary consultation and you can sign up to receive their regular newsletter.