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About Roots with Boots

My name is Valérie Besanceney (MEd.), and I am an international education and transition consultant, well versed in international education and cross cultural awareness. I have spent most of my llife in international schools across four continents, either as a student or as teacher. Apart from consulting via Roots with Boots, I serve as the Executive Director for Safe Passage Across Networks. Since 2020, my husband and I also run an English Activities Center in our Swiss village, called Scout & Sage


The Short Version - What Can I Offer You?

  • As an adult TCK having moved four times and changed schools six times before the age of 18, I understand the impact moving as a child can have on shaping your sense of identity as an adult. 

  • As a certified international school teacher at six international schools in four different continents, I am well aware of how transitions can affect a child’s general well-being and learning experience.  

  • As an author of two books, I hope to offer children a story to identify with and the language and tools to successfully be able to understand their own ‘moving’ story. 

  • As the current Executive Director of Safe Passage Across Networks, and as a former Program Director for Families in Global Transition, I have had the opportunity to research the challenges and benefits of a globally mobile lifestyle extensively and develop a rich network of professionals and experts in the field. 

  • As the content supplier for an online training module for international schools, I know how important it is for schools to support parents in helping their children transition. Also, I have presented many times on the topic of Cross Cultural Childhoods for staff, parents, and children.

  • As a mother, I can relate to raising children in a cross-cultural family. 

  • Finally, we recently moved. I know how hard it can be, but I am convinced that moving can be a deeply rewarding and enriching experience for the entire family. Let me help you support your child in the process. 


What are my qualifications?

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership, Emeritus in collaboration with Tuck School of Business, Columbia Business School, and MIT’s Sloan School of Management, June 2021

  • Certificate in Crossing Cultures with Competence, The Interchange Institute, Boston, MA, USA, June 2020

  • M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA, August 2008 

  • M.A. in European Tourism Management, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK, August 2000 

  • Licensure ESOL PreK-12, State of Virginia, USA, August 2007

  • Diplôme Supérieur d’Etudes Françaises, Alliance Française, Geneva, Switzerland, February 2003

  • B.A. in English and German Literature, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA, June 1998 

  • Teaching experience 2005-2019: The International School of Geneva (Switzerland), the International School of Aruba (Aruba), Santa Cruz Cooperative School (Bolivia), Yangon International Educare Centre (Burma), Cairo Modern School (Egypt), Aiglon College Summer School (Switzerland), Ecole Suisse de Ski, Gryon, Switzerland (Gryon, Switzerland).



The Long Version - Sharing My Story

Although I grew up as a quintessential Third Culture Kid (TCK), I had no idea I was a TCK until I was 25 years-old . When I was five years old, our family starting moving, first from the Netherlands to Switzerland, back to the Netherlands, followed by Luxembourg, and back to Switzerland. Having attended mostly international schools, following the American and British curriculum, I left Europe for the University of Vermont and graduated with a B.A. in German and English literature. During this time, I spent one semester ‘abroad’ in Germany. Hoping to put my languages and love for traveling to good use, I completed a M.A. in European Tourism Management at the Université de Savoie in Chambéry, France.

Having had no luck finding a job in the tourism industry, I enjoyed being a ski instructor for a few seasons and dipped my toes in a few ill-fitting careers. Meanwhile I fell in love with my now husband who encouraged me (and still does) to follow my heart. Together, we backpacked around the world during the summers while teaching skiing in the winters for a few years.

Our travels and my love for teaching convinced me to get a TEFL certification which led to a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University. Over the last fifteen years, I taught in international schools in Egypt, Burma, Bolivia, Aruba, and Switzerland. 

During my M.Ed., I studied the effects of transitions on learning. As an elementary teacher, I looked for resources about moving for younger children, but found none specifically for TCKs. This encouraged me to become an author of two children’s books, B at Home: Emma Moves Again and My Moving Booklet.


My writing has also been featured online and in other publications, such as This Messy Mobile Life by Mariam N. Ottimofiore. In 2017, I was asked to be content partner for an online training course for international school administrators and staff.  Since then, I have become increasingly passionate about supporting children in their transitions. By volunteering for several years as the Program Director on the board of Families in Global Transition (FIGT), I found my tribe. This organization offers an amazing international community, network, and resources for globally minded individuals and families.

Through FIGT, I became familiar with the work of Doug Ota and Safe Passage Across Networks (SPAN). Today, I am honored to serve as the Executive Director for SPAN, a leading organization in the field of transitions-care that offers a home to anyone committed to healthy transitions and attachment security. We connect, equip and refresh transitions-care providers.


Roots with Boots grew from my desire to help our two daughters and other children thrive through their personal experiences as Cross Cultural Kids. When I left the safe nest of my own home at eighteen, I felt completely and utterly lost about where I belonged. For years, I was longing for "home", having no idea where that was. In Dutch there is a saying (stevig in je schoenen staan) which means standing strong in your shoes.  If I would have known then what I know now about transitions and a cross cultural childhood, I am sure it would have allowed me to feel "stand stronger in my shoes"as a young adult. 


It was only after I learned about the term TCK and how growing up cross-culturally affects your sense of identity that I finally understood my true roots, where I belonged and who I was. Once I wrote B at Home: Emma Moves Again, I found my sense of home. Roots with Boots intends to help adults and children feel strong about their roots and grounded in their boot during their unique journey of discovering where they belong and what home is. After all, the benefits of a globally mobile lifestyle outweigh the challenges, if the challenges are managed well. 


At the moment, I live in a little town the Swiss Alps with my American husband and two cross cultural daughters and two cats. Although home is made up of so many different people and places, this is the one place that I have always been lucky enough to return to. I have memories from each year of my life since I was five years old, met my husband here, and our children are growing up here. The photo on the home page of my website is taken just a stone's throw away from where we live.

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