But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep.
From “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
By any measure, 2019 has been a landmark year for me—and it was also an eventful year for many, with landmarks that generate plenty of food for thought! Let’s review the situation.
2019 reminds me of a long tunnel, punctuated with brief intermissions of light, and with the expectations of light being much longer than the actual light spells—just like when you drive East from Nice, France, to Cap d’Aisle. But that is a nice ride anyway, as you’re expecting pleasure and willingly put up with temporary darkness. Not everything in 2019 felt like that.
Overall, a good summary of the year past sponsors a good beginning of the year to come. This is why I am trying to see the big picture, find inspirations in effects of the past and present, examine them without over-analyzing, and move on. Because it’s time—and because some of my readers may want to put my experiences to work for their own good.
Rollercoasters Public and Private
Don’t even start me on a roller-coaster in public life which we had to experience during this past year in America and beyond – it broke all records for my baby-boomer generation, as well as for millennials and gen-exers. In fact, we’ve got desensitized after the political and societal scandal-after-scandal rolling out in the US politics, Brexit, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s retirement from royal duties (and an idea of marrying a prince losing its charm for years to come) – you name it – all added up! Personally, I’m done talking politics: there’s plenty of professional pundits and media making their living out of it. Focusing on my own – and my book subjects’ – ups and downs has a better potential of offering a lesson to others who plan their life in 2020.
Okay, this year I much prefer minding my own business as the best approach in life and work. My private roller-coaster has not been too visible from the outside but felt palpable on the inside. Here’s what I mean.
Positive Personal Landmarks, in No Particular Order:
- After my new book (see the cover below) came out, I gave 15 radio talk-show interviews in April-June, including the world-acclaimed Voice America, when I had a privilege talking with a celebrity anchor Patricia Raskin at her Show. I was very proud to be there and had a great time!;
- Preparing a book-launch video together with two of my book subjects, Josie Natori and Alfa Demmellash, was time of pure fun: we all enjoyed talking about immigrant women issues in front of the camera. You might think of that video background as peculiar, but it was organic for the hall of the designer’s Natori Company on Madison Avenue in New York. Pay attention, it’s interesting!
- Giving a one-hour interview on the radio Straight Talk Show on May 28th, was especially energizing for more reasons than one. First, at the time, I was overseas, in Belgium, calling to a show stationed in Pennsylvania. And second, I needed a lot of energy at 1-2 am at night (the show prime time of 7 pm in the US is a sleep time in Europe). The interviewer, a WEEU Editor Nick Lawrence is a leading national radio talk show host and television personality. Excited by me calling from Belgium, he mentioned the fact in each of the 3 sections of the talk. Amazingly, this helped him to entertain both the audience and me! And despite my misgivings, the I-phone worked super and the recording was of good quality, hear it for yourself at http://weeu.com/wpcontent/uploads/StraightTalk052819.mp3 . Bow to technology!
- Receiving a NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, in Women’s Interest category for Winter 2019 was another landmark: isn’t it good to be a winner?
- Responding to the Bill Lusby Morning Show based in Baltimore/Annapolis in Maryland from the conference reception site of SIETAR-Europa was stimulating: the conference organizers brought me to one of the grandest, gorgeously decorated room of historic Leuven Town Hall,—and no less than two excursions passed by me during that 20-min interview. But the guide and the tourists noted the sign “Live interview with the US radio station” – and graciously muted their voices. People are kind (as different from some politicians and media)—did you notice that?
- Hosting a newspaper correspondent and editor of Echoes Sentinel Alex Parker-Magyar – at my home for a book interview was the first time in my entire life. I felt thrilled, and then happy for its outcome, a comprehensive article “Warren author explores success stories of immigrant women”.
- Finding a kindred spirit in Berlin, Germany was unexpected. It was Jacquelyn Reeves who initially found me on LinkedIn because of my book about immigrant women adaptation and success in the US. We hit it off immediately on a beautiful day at a sun-lit Alexander Platz cafe, and couldn’t stop discussing things. That’s when Jacquelyn came up with an idea of a book-based across-the-pond webinars, styled like talk-shows with two anchors conversing. And I said Yes: immigrant women’s success is a solid attention-worthy topic, and I could invite my book subjects and other interesting folks to the show. We continue discussing and prepping for The Bridge, shooting to start in March, the Women’s History Month. I’ll keep you posted!
- Some very special happiness came from recognition of my book in the reviews on Amazon, GoodReads, Barnes and Noble, and elsewhere—and I feel forever grateful to those who took the time to read it AND helped with publicity or published a review. Do you hear me, George Simons, Dianne Hofner Saphiere, Anita Rowe, Alan Richter, Deborah Levine, Lana Kim, Edwin Cohen, Lynda Spielman? Many thanks for your kind attention!
- Giving the interview to Donna Seebo Show happened after Donna Seebo personally picked my book at the San Francisco and Portland book shows. It may well be this was the best interview I gave, and it happened because Donna, to my genuine surprise, was a super attentive reader and asked about the book’s most meaningful details, question after question after question. In Donna, the book found a professional, thoughtful reader, and I am utterly grateful to her! You can listen to this interview which was coincidentally uploaded on the day of my birthday, December 18, 2019, as show #2384-2;
- Preparing and delivering presentations for SIETAR-Europa in Leuven, Belgium and SIETAR-USA in Atlanta, GA were also excellent landmarks, because the opinion of my colleagues-interculturalists is paramount; they supplied several solid insights into my research and its expression in the book.
- Holding book readings and Q & A sessions at Georgia State University and Agnes Scott College which my daughter graduated from was both a meaningful and wonderful experience that indicated I still love to be with the students and they love me back – plus, these meetings resulted in new friendships and following. Fairly good, right?
Personal Setbacks-2019: not too dramatic—why, you may ask?
- Partly it’s because America, my home country of choice, turned me into a somewhat thicker-skinned individual than I’ve originally been. Indeed, expressing my stress with tears or anger became a no-no—after all, who am I, a crybaby? No way!
- When sick or swindled big time, 5 and 2 times respectively, I did feel physical and emotional pain. Moving on came at a considerable cost, but my natural resilience and persistence prevailed, helping to keep head above water. It’s for a reason that I named Persistence one of the seven core success values in my book.
What Am I Up To? Fulfilling my 2020 resolutions, which entail:
- Full-time return to blogging: I learned a lot and have a lot to share;
- Starting THE BRIDGE intercultural webinar series and video blogs (vlogs) – with co-anchor Jacquelyn Reeves; I love its mission (Bridging outstanding women from Europe and America together in exciting and open conversations, in front of a gender-diverse audience), as well as its special logo, as pictured below:
- Shooting for more interviews and book readings/presentations, to bring the stories and How-To of successful immigrant women – the information I’ve been mining for 5 years – to the masses;
- Investing to optimize both my website and YouTube channel. A tall order – but high time!
What Drives Me?
My in-built future-orientation along with a desire to make a difference for as long as I can—that’s what drives me. Fulfilling my commitment to assist the immigrant women, the most vulnerable demographic worldwide, to succeed and thrive in their countries of choice and in their professions of choice, is the priority. So be it—and miles to go before I sleep.
Please follow me if you can.
Irmgard Lafrentz says
As one of the book’s subjects, I love the idea of THE BRIDGE webinars and will participate to share my “how to…” story in America. The book is such a great tool for immigrant students to easily understand what it takes to overcome set-backs, engage in a new culture and contribute to the lives of others. The book is already available in several libraries.
Fiona Citkin, you are a star communicator and human being.
As we are now rooting for a new webinar to start in March, you will be the honorable interviewee there, promise.
I would really appreciate your comments on my past and future plans, and about what can be done to better fulfil my goals?
What kind of vlogs and webinars could be popular enough to reach the broader audience?
Also, who will be the best interviewees to demonstrate how women reach their success under stress when we start The Bridge?
Deborah Levine says
Thank you Fiona for this great idea.
I learned plenty of new ideas when working on your profile, Deborah, thank you!
Deborah Levine says
Great website and plans for 2020! Consider hosting an online conference with panels of immigrant women representing different industries.
You will be in the first ranks of the Bridge guests. In March. Promise.
Arkady Polishchuk says
Knowing Fiona for her determination and powerful efforts, I have no doubt she will be able to assist the immigrant women to succeed in their countries of choice and in their professions. But she is modest. This immigrant still remembers her successful effort to publicize his first book written in English, Dancing on Thin Ice, and I am still thankful to her.
I’m lucky to have read the first edition of your Dancing On Thin Ice, and I show this book with pride to my guests. Hope to see your new book too. Would you like me to interview you again?
Effectively it was a “moving” year! Congratulations for all your successes and more to come in 2020 🙂
As you said, persistence is one of the major key, and always keeping the head up.
The Bridge is an amazing idea and I wish you an abundant success.
Many thanks, Veronique, for being with me – you are a trailblazer yourself!
Elizabeth Bagley says
Lovely to read your 2019 recap. Persistence is indeed an admirable core value!
Meeting you personally, Elizabeth, in Decatur, GA, and having you sponsor my book reading at the Agnes Scott College book shop, was a piece of sheer luck.
Individuals such as you are inspirational for many as you touch on other people’s lives.
Irmgard Lafrentz says
In California – specifically Silicon Valley – we have huge numbers of immigrant students. Many aspire to be entrepreneurs. “How they made it in America” by Fiona Citkin is such great tool with the success factors and practical examples “How to…” I love the idea of the webinar THE BRIDGE and will gladly participate,
Yes, I feel confident you will be able to make a difference in The Bridge webinar. Its motto is: “Bridging outstanding women from Europe and America together
in exciting and open conversations, in front of a gender-diverse audience.”
Monica Smiley says
Fiona: We were honored to feature excerpts from your book in Enterprising Women magazine and have had wonderful feedback from our women entrepreneur readers around the world. Cheers to a successful year ahead for you.
It was my pleasure, Monica, to contribute to your notable magazine. I would welcome your readership – and you, personally – to take part in The Bridge webinar series, as active participants as well as live interviewees. Let’s discuss it.
Jacquelyn Reeves says
I am proud to be named as a “kindred spirit” in your inspirational and motivational blog, Fiona! I feel like getting up, exploring, questioning, jumping and smiling — all at the same time.
Your memory of our meeting at Alexanderplatz in Berlin matches mine, and now we have also met in Warren too, your home, last September.
These meetings have facilitated our thinking and passions to form The Bridge. The Bridge is now incorporating my 20+ years in Europe as an immigrant woman, from starting work at BMW, then teaching international business students, writing and training about the US from a foreigner’s perspective and willingness to go right to the roots and uncover it all.
My overall goal or word that anchors my work is UNDERSTANDING. I want to give the tools of understanding, to dig deep, facilitate difficult dialogues and also know when UNDERSTANDING might not arrive right on time.
From this UNDERSTANDING, fear melts away, doors open to dialogue, and innovation flowers in the fertile soil of learning in the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion space and people finding new space for their voices.
These experiences and hard women’s work of ours will form The Bridge.
Co-Founder The Bridge
Thank you, Jacquelyn – and to us, women, as we contribute to up the lives of others!
Veronica Montes says
This is such an inspiring recollection of what happened to you throughout 2019. I did enjoy reading how you organized the different areas of your accomplishments and challenges, and more importantly, what you look forward to achieving this new year. As an immigrant woman and also one of the women you interviewed for your book How they made it in America, reading about the ways you keep looking to challenge yourself and reinvent yourself, it is inspiring. Thank you!
Many thanks, Veronica, for sharing your thoughts, always interesting. I hope the book will do good for your students too.
If you would like to be interviewed for The Bridge webinar dedicated to women living and working in the US and Europe – please let me know.
Lilia Kalytiuk says
I am blessed to know in person Fiona Citkin. Firstly, I was her student in Uzhgorod (Ukraine) and remember her powerful academic aura, Fiona Citkin is a professional everyone deserves to have in life, but not everybody is lucky enough to. I am that lucky. She actually polished her students, making us professionals. Secondly, I am a linguist, a university lecturer and was a scientific supervisor of one of my students’ investigation ‘Fiona Citkin’s Discourse Portrait’, My girl got silver presenting the results of her investigation in All-Ukrainian Students’ Research Papers Contest in 2019, Kyiv. And in Ukraine there is an article about Fiona Citkin’s speaking personality (https://dspace.uzhnu.edu.ua/jspui/handle/lib/24988).
Thirdly, I am one of the translators of ‘How They Made It In America’ and thus know every letter, every comma in the book. Fiona Citkin describes the ladies’ life stories so warmly, so personally that I have the feeling that these women are my friends and I comfortably can give them a call on Saturday morning and say: ‘Hi, dear! I hope, you are fine’. When I was translating the book into Ukrainian, there was the feeling of my total involvement in the events described in the book. The tragic events in Sophie Vandebroek’s life. I just admire her stamina. I want to ask Alfa Demmellash whether her father ever knew what a wonderful lady his daughter has become and whether he ever regretted having abandoned little Alfa in a faraway Ethiopian town…
Fiona Citkin is a celebrity, and she has paved her way knowing well that there is ‘no elevator to success, one has to take the stairs’. She is an achiever and knows volumes about how to be the one. Well done, maestro!
Indeed, my former student – and now a linguistics professor in her own right – Lilia Kalytiuk wrote so poetic comments that I almost wish I could be introduced to the author of this blog. Thank you so much, Lilia!
Frida Reddy says
Congratulations Fiona on all your accomplishments in 2019 and let’s not forget your presentation on immigrant women at SIETAR USA in Atlanta. So glad I attended and bought your book in which a very wise insight from your father is always on my mind: “There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs!”. I’m excited about The Bridge, thank you for leading such a wonderful initiative and for being such a great source of inspiration.
Your opinion, Frida, coming from a relatively new American immigrant woman from France, is especially important for me. My book-subjects’ efforts to help “those who come after us” were inspiring them and me to do the interviews, fact-checking, and book-writing. I sincerely hope this will assist those beginning their careers – to see what it takes to be a success in the US.