From the Point of View of… Deborah Valentine

Deborah on being placed abroad: “Partners embark on the adventure together, but once the adrenaline of the first year wears off and the house and spouse are all sorted, they start to spend way too much time alone and in their head – that is, if they haven’t reached out enough – and they are confronted with an identity issue ‘Who am I? Am I just a mother? Husband? Housekeeper?’ It is demoralizing and becomes a downward spiral. What you see is, the moment they have an appointment on the home calendar that has nothing to do with anybody else except them, they start to grow. When they come to work for us and have colleagues and are given the opportunity to use their skills and meet people… from that moment onwards, they start to make their own life. There’s value to being active, to being productive, to giving back.”

On expat friendships: “It’s funny, I used to be the one who picked up and left after a couple of years, and now I am one of the ones who stay behind. It was a strange realization: Ooooh, I’m a stayer. So this is what it feels like when people go. Fortunately, there are friendships that are not affected by it at all, so that when they do show up again, you pick up where you left off like it was yesterday. I think it is just a testament to what you had in common with that friend at that given time.”