Doreen and John
With some—certainly many, probably most—Aramco annuitants, retirement is less an exit from the working world but more an all-consuming exploration into a world of new opportunities. That certainly seems to be the case with Doreen Cumberford. With all that she has going on in her supposed retirement years, she'll need to go back to working full time to get any rest. Yes, I'm exaggerating a bit, but not by much. Read on about her experiences after repatriating to the U.S. and judge for yourself.
Doreen, badge number 197985, arrived in Arabia in 1991 and lived in the Ras Tanura and Dhahran compounds with her husband John Palmer. She gives as her job title, "Aramco Tandem Spouse," in which capacity, among other things, she edited the yearbook for Dhahran Middle School from 2005 through 2010, the year they retired. They have two children, Kristin Radebaugh and Lynsey Palmer, and one grandchild, Fiona Radebaugh, age 11.
Today they call "The Centennial State" of Colorado home and can be reached by mail at 771 Kendall Court Lakewood, Colorado 80214 United States.
AXP: What attracted you to working for Saudi Aramco and living in Saudi Arabia?
DC: We were interested in changing our lifestyle, increasing our financial abundance and were ready to embark on an adventure.
AXP: What is one of your favorite memories of Saudi Arabia?
DC: The school and community was supportive, fun-loving and very active. We enjoyed the food, the local population, the Saudis we met and made friends with; we loved the international community, the global-heartedness of everyone, the deep sense of well-being that everyone seemed to have in common. We enjoyed the opportunity to grow personally, develop meaningful relationships, to stay creative, to visit and enjoy so many other cultures and then to move on to the next adventure.
AXP: What are some of your favorite hobbies in your retirement?
DC: We have a boutique coaching and consulting business supporting executives, families and individuals in their transitions to be expats, repats or nextpats.....those are constantly mobile people adjusting and adapting to massive cultural change with great frequency.
Doreen is writing (albeit slowly) a book on her Saudi experiences and has interviewed dozens of expats who were in Kingdom before, during and after her sojourn there. These stories form the basis of Life in the Camel Lane....the sub-title and the book will be released later this year or early next. Doreen speaks for conferences and events on the inter-cultural location process, the ramifications for TCKs and has talks that focus on how expats can engage principles of personal development in order to create better transitions.
AXP: Are you planning on attending the US or UK Aramco Reunions? If so, which one and why do you like the reunions?
DC: We attended the Monterey Reunion in 2016. We were happy to reconnect with so many Aramcons, we had fun and enjoyed the experience very much. It was well organised and a joy to participate for the most part.
AXP: Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
DC: Within our Repatriation Coaching we have recently surveyed people returning to their native cultures all around the globe. About 250 people have responded to date, however, we have not specifically focused on Aramcons and thought it would be interesting to survey Aramcons to find out their challenge, successes and best strategies during Repatriation - no matter the country. We plan on sharing the results and since Aramcons have repatriated for several decades there could be some gold nuggets that will support and assist others in doing so.
Family in Saudi Gear, 1996
On Doreen's most recent appearance on these pages in May of 2016, she wrote about a book she had been working on since leaving Arabia in 2010: Life in the Camel Lane: Life is Portable – Live It Everywhere You Go!
"The heart of the book," she wrote, "is based upon lessons learned, more specifically the life lessons of tolerance, gratitude, hospitality and changing perspective, how Arabia affected all of that and more."
Somehow Doreen has found time to organize a Facebook group called "Rock Your Re-Entry" where, in her words, "we seek to post some wisdom for returnees and 'nextpats' several times per week." Doreen would love to share her Facebook group with the Aramco ExPats community. "Someone may find it useful," she notes, "to participate in a group that believes that Repatriation is the next big adventure and can be a wonderful journey also." Interested readers can connect to her group's Facebook page by clicking here.
Doreen writes about yet another project she is involved in:
"We are presently compiling an anthology of repatriation stories from people who have lived overseas. These stories will be compiled into the Life in the Repatriation Lane Anthology due to be published early next year. Every contribution is an inspirational and true story about ordinary people having extraordinary experiences during their return to their home country and the strategies that worked - and didn't work. Each story should be heart opening, rekindle the spirit and touch our readers. This story also helps readers discover universal principles that they can take and use in their own lives during their Repatriation process. They should be personal, filled with emotion, humor and/or dreams. It is a story robust with images and sensory information. The reader should feel like they are at the scene and participating or watching the events unfold before them."
Doreen invites any of our ExPat readers interested in contributing a story to her anthology to get in touch with her. She believes " it would be great fun to have a few Aramcons from around the globe contributing to this."
Doreen and John recently wrote to Aramco ExPats about yet another aspect of their work:
"We would love your assistance to support others in their moves back home after living overseas. Along with a couple of other re-entry coaches, we have created a short survey to gather information to pinpoint your greatest joys, your greatest challenges and lessons learned in the process. The survey can be accessed by clicking here: Repatriation Experience Survey
"The results will be shared and you will receive a FREE GIFT of insights, inspirations and intelligence around the subjects of re-entry and repatriation. The survey will take you a few minutes and benefit many who have recently or who are about to return to their native countries all around the globe. "We appreciate your participation and honor your experiences. Please tell the truth, don’t hold back and continue to live in the spirit of adventure that the Aramco experience offered."
Anyone interested in contacting Doreen can reach her via email at [email protected].