My story as an expatriate and humanitarian woman

Here is my story as an expatriate woman and humanitarian. Multi-expatriate for 28 years, including 10 years in the humanitarian field, I’ve experienced many professional and personal transitions. These include 4 professional reconversions and 2 pivotal events: becoming a parent and taking on the status of accompanying spouse. For a long time, I lived my life with great agility. And yet, one day, I found it quite difficult to clarify what I really wanted! Discover my story below.


My story as an expatriate and humanitarian woman.

I started out with some very exciting life and career transitions!

My name is Nancy Bonamy, and I currently live in Cameroon. I am Swiss. I’ve been an expatriate for almost 28 years, including 10 in the humanitarian field and around 9 years with the status as expatriate spouse. I’ve experienced many professional and personal transitions. I first worked as a teacher in Madagascar for three years, then as a manager of professional musicians in France, then as a humanitarian in highly sensitive context for over 10 years for the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross)! I then made another professional transition, which I’ll tell you about a little later. Throughout this period, my first 13 years as an expatriate, I loved the changes, I seized every opportunity and found all these life and career transitions really exciting!

Things got complicated when I left the humanitarian field.

Everything changed after the birth of my children. I now have two teenage boys. When the first was born, I felt the need to find a new life balance. Especially as my choices no longer involved just me, but also my loved ones.

That’s when everything got complicated for me.

  • I had no idea what I wanted to do professionally.
  • My career path was so atypical that I didn’t really know how to make the most of it.
  • I had desires such as having a life full of changes and with an international component. Yet, I foolishly thought that change and an international life were incompatible with a family life.

My attempt wasn’t conclusive.

I tried to go back to my first profession. I went back to teaching for 3 years, in a small village in Switzerland, where I returned after 13 years as an expatriate. And while I still loved the contact with children and parents, I wasn’t really fulfilled, because I had the impression that all my past experiences weren’t really being used. I needed something that took greater account not only of my needs and desires, but above all my experiences and of who I had become, my identity as whole.

I asked myself a thousand questions about what may be the next step in my story.

For me, it was a period filled with questioning and never finding the answers. I didn’t know how to go about clarifying what I wanted. I felt lost, even stupid at times, to be so unclear with my wishes and needs, when I had everything going: an incredible professional experience, a loving husband, healthy (and so cute!) children, a house… what could I possibly complain about? Lost in my questioning, I nevertheless decided to resign from teaching, even though I still didn’t know what I wanted to do professionally. As luck would have it, a month later my husband was offered a job in New York. So off we went to the United States with our 3- and 5-year-old children.

I dared to open a new chapter in my story, this time as an expatriate spouse.

The first year was both great (it was New York, after all!) and disturbing, because I was taking on the role of accompanying spouse for the first time! A strange role! Not at all valued or understood. I didn’t really fit in. After a year, I decided to go back to studies, at New York University, and it was there that I trained, among other things, in professional and personal coaching… my most recent professional transition.

During my studies, I discovered how important it is, at some point in one’s life, to take stock of who you are and what you really want! There are plenty of resources available to help you do this, and above all, it’s normal and healthy to sometimes feel the need to be accompanied and supported in this process.

As my studies progressed, it became clear to me that I had found my calling: to set up my own business as a professional coach, helping expatriates, humanitarians and expatriate spouses to navigate with ease and agility their professional and personal transitions. I thought I wasn’t cut out for entrepreneurship! And I also thought that when you’re faced with so many questions, you have to find a solution on your own!

I overcame my internal obstacles to embark (again) on a new career path.

I overcame my internal obstacles and changed some of the stories I’d been telling myself about myself and my career path. That’s what helped me move forward. And now, for the past 8 years, I’ve been helping expatriates and humanitarians to get out of those constant questioning and create the positive changes they need, to clarify their next professional and personal chapter, to give a new impulse to their career path or establish a better life balance.

I am lucky today to have a job that combines all my past personal and professional experiences AND allows me to activate my talents!

That’s a bit of my story. I hope you’ve found it useful. And you, what is your story?

If you understand French and are interested, you can find this story on video here on my Youtube channel.

If you want to know more about me, find me here

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