Expat Stories: Being Portable While Educating Global Nomads Worldwide

When searching for people to feature in my expat story series, I'm always excited to learn about successful expats who support the expat community.
Being an expat myself, I know the importance of having service providers who understand the unique challenges of expat life and are dedicated to help other expats overcome them.

Often it is not enough to just have the training and expertise to effectively solve a problem. Being able to properly address a challenge sometimes requires first hand experience and an understanding of that particular environment and ecosystem - especially when trying to find creative and sustainable solutions to situations with ever-changing and moving parts.

There are many challenges that expat families face as they move around the globe - raising children being one of the biggest. The expat community is fortunate to have a tremendous resource to support them in that journey - Rebecca Grappo.

Becky Grappo is one of those people who has the powerful combination of extensive training and personal experience - as well as a long history of success supporting expat families and their 'third culture kids' and 'global nomads' worldwide.

Becky was kind enough to take some time to share about her story both as an expat and also as a successful portable business owner. So without further ado...
Becky, what led you to become an international educational consultant? 
I’ve always been involved in “something international” since my undergraduate degree was in International Students and languages. I later went back to school and got a graduate degree in education. Next I taught in American international schools for 7 years, then came back to the U.S. and taught in American public schools, and then became the education and youth officer at the U.S.
Department of State. There I worked with the families of American diplomats as they moved their children around the globe and tried to figure out the multiple educational issues their kids faced. I have also been very interested in the twin issues of transitions and resiliency in Third Culture Kids, and I continue to be fascinated by the question of why some kids thrive in this lifestyle while others struggle. 

In 2006, my husband, a career Foreign Service officer, was assigned overseas again and I had to yet again leave a job I loved. That’s when I realized it was my “now or never moment”, and I launched RNG International Educational Consultants, LLC.
What kinds of kids do you work with? 
My tag line is “everything and everything that has to do with educating global nomads.” I work with all kinds of kids, from elementary to young adult, of all ethnic backgrounds, nationalities and abilities. Some of my students are academic superstars and others are really struggling with learning issues or behavior/emotional problems. About half of my practice is doing college/university advising, and the other half is school placements for various kinds of boarding schools. 
How do people find you and how do you work with them over long distance?
Almost 90% of my practice is referral based. A lot of people know me around the world, and then one family that is happy tells another, and so it goes. 
It’s getting easier and easier to work with families around the world, thanks to continually evolving technology. Obviously, we Skype and email a lot. With the kids, we often exchange Blackberry messenger PINs and exchange quick messages that way, too. I especially love it when my students send me a BBM that says, “Hey, Becky! Guess what!! I got in!” 
How does this profession match your own personal strengths and qualities?
I think I’m a naturally empathetic and caring person, so families and students open up to me when they want to tell me their stories. But I’m also a natural problem-solver, and a very linear person so I can see an issue and think it through pretty clearly. And I love what I do, so I don’t mind the hard work and long hours. 
What lessons have you learned along the way?  
I wish that I had conceptualized how this was going to grow and set up more systems for record keeping, contacts, accounting, etc. from the very beginning. 
I also learned the value of a friends and colleagues to help and encourage me. I also don’t know everything there is to know, but I know where to go to ask for help, and that’s huge.  

I have found it very valuable to have multiple networks, and I also believe in being involved with professional organizations. 
Lastly, I find it invaluable to invest in my own professional development and I strive to always serve my clients better. 
What does the future hold for you and RNC International Education Consultants?
I’ve just gone through my 4th - and hopefully final - international move since I launched, as we just moved back to the U.S. So for the immediate future I just want some time to breath and think about how I want to grow. I have several conference presentations on tap for the spring, more school visits planned, and I’ve been asked to write a newspaper column in my new community. I also want to write a book – but I have to figure out how to carve more hours out of the day. I also pinch myself every day and realize how lucky I am – I did manage build a portable, global business that touches young lives around the world and is rewarding to me personally. I’m busier than I ever imagined. Sometimes dreams do come true!
If you'd like to learn more about Becky, you can listen to an interview with Becky on an Expat Focus podcast, visit her website, or read her latest article on her blog, Educating Global Nomads.

Source: Career by choice blog

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