Why Join the Foreign Born Spouses Group? Some Thoughts.

Members of the FBS group enjoying a ferry ride from Crisfield, MD to Tangier Island, MD during an outing in May 2015 (photo courtesy of Roselix Quinones-Mercado).

AAFSW and the Foreign Born Spouses (FBS) Group have played an important role in my life from the moment I joined. When I first got to Washington DC, I wanted to start working right away, but I soon realized that I need a clearance to have a decent government job. I wondered whom I should include as my references to get a clearance: I barely knew people in this city, I was born in Venezuela, and I just got back from living overseas! I added a few friends from AAFSW because they were the only people I knew and it ended up working perfectly. I later found out that one of the investigators in charge of my background check personally knew one of my references. It is a small world!

My friends from the FBS Group understand my life in ways most others cannot. Things like raising kids in three cultures, speaking at least two different languages at home, dealing with different school systems, and sometimes maintaining a relationship with a spouse in a different time zone, all while living your “normal” life, are not like a walk in the park. Not everyone can relate to this. We are jugglers!

Many of us will never go back to live in our country of origin, yet we are all Americans representing the US abroad. Life as a foreign born spouse is a never-ending duality. We are the oddest of the odd, the exception to the rule. If we are “domestic,” we are home but away from our extended family and with a limited support system.

For me, the Foreign Born Spouse Group is an important support system, the “sorority” that as someone who is foreign-born, I wouldn’t normally have. Being able to share anecdotes with and relate to stories from others whose lives are like mine is simply priceless. It is like an acrobat in a trapeze who has been received by fellow gymnasts with open arms after a dangerous pirouette. Even if we all don’t know each other well, we “get” each other profoundly.

At this point, it is shocking to see that not everyone in the real world is like that. In the real world, when you are new, you have to prove yourself to others and demonstrate how good or loyal you are. Not in the FBS group; they take you as you are. We have all been there, done that, though in another country and in a different language. No matter how old or how young, there is always a space for you. Please, do all of us a favor and, in your next post, be supportive with each other because it makes a huge difference and if you are here in the US, join us. We are always happy to meet new people and we look forward to catching you after your next pirouette!

Roselix Quinones-Mercado
FBS Group Member

Any AAFSW member, whether foreign born or not, is welcome to attend the FBS Group. For more information, please email fbspouses@aafsw.org.