What a morning!
Over 30 vendors, Club members and guests, milling around shopping and chatting over tea'n'coffee, raising money for charity.
Good for the soul, especially when you are on the organising team, or volunteering on the day.
I can't stress enough the importance of joining the local International Women's Club, or American Women's Club or French Womens' Club or any other expat oriented Club the second you arrive in your new city.
If you simply Google INTERNATIONAL WOMENS CLUB you will be amazed at how many there are. Each one will have it's own criteria for membership, but they all share the same mission, tho the words might be slightly different - to help new arrivals settle quickly and well into the City, and to make friends. Some Clubs are more philanthropic than others, some are more social - you'll find the one to suit you. And if it's not 'you', don't disregard it too quickly. JOIN! Take a few months to see what it's like. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Some of my BEST friends over the past 8 years started over a coffee at an IWCD meeting, or thru an introduction simply because we were both from Australia. I've met the most interesting ladies thru the Club, and learnt so much.
I am a strong advocate for membership to International Women's Clubs and was over the moon when I was asked to be Vice President this year. Everything I do is paying it forward, giving back to the Club that made me so welcome and helped me so much on our first expat adventure.
Sadly, the distance and time frames of activities in/around Tokyo prohibited me from joining that one; The community at school more than made up for it. I've no idea how I'd have fitted everything in if I joined.
Winchester to London is just that bit too far to be guaranteed of getting in/out between school hours, plus the cost was ridiculous. The train ran from Winchester to Waterloo well enough (if there wasn't track work, or other delays) but getting from Waterloo to ?????? might have been another 30+ minutes and that's going in - double that to come home. So again, I didn't join the Australian Womens' Club or International one.
Trust me, I know what's it's like to be disengaged, to feel uncomfortable and lonely. The IWC's can and do have a huge impact. I know that if things had been different, and joining was an option, our time, my time in the UK would have been so different.
Being able to re-join IWCD was one of the highlights of returning to Dublin.
This year we had a committee of 10 organising the Bazaar, of which 4 were new members to the Club.
They had great ideas, shared experiences from previous Club's they belonged to, saw how 'we' do things, and more than that, instantly connected with members who have been with the Club for a long time, and were seen by others as being involved!
Moving countries often requires you to learn very quickly how to fit in, where you'll make friends, establish a social network and, if you're visa prohibits you from gaining employment, keeping busy!
Volunteering is the best way to immerse yourself; learn the ropes, hang out with people, be seen to be active and participative. If you would rather not be on committee's there's oodles of things to do:
- sell raffle tickets,
- bake cakes,
- be the one to collect donations of books etc,
- put your hand up to be on a roster to work behind a stall;
- pick up members who don't drive and would otherwise not attend,
- rustle up a few donations from local businesses for the raffle, the following is a helpful list of business we ALL know, who might consider giving a gift voucher. Vouchers are brilliant as they are worth nothing until someone uses them - and then you end up spending more than the voucher.
- gym instructor
- tennis coach
- pilates teacher
- yoga teacher
- dry cleaners
- favorite restaurant
- favourite cafe
- local fruitshop
- local butcher
- local fishmonger
- babysitting or child minding
- home help (cleaners, ironing service etc)
- get the idea?
- Help with decorating the venue
- Offer to create a music sound track
- Be there early to help set up, or offer to stay back to pull down event
- If you're handy with social media, offer to manage the FB and Twitter side of the event
- Creative people can design posters or invitations
- Depending on the event, there may well be lots of envelopes that need stuffing and stamps going on,
- Bring friends to the event!
There's a role for everyone who wants one.
While it's lovely to be asked to participate, please don't be shy - offer!
There are so many places needing volunteers - this is but one aspect of volunteer work.
As an expat, I guess the obvious places are school, preschool, church, sports clubs, as well as IWC's; but there are local charities that need help too. Ask around for ideas, or Google them.
Depending on where you volunteer you might need to be interviewed, offer up references, have a police check done etc.
Sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zone, to do something we've never done before. It's exciting and scary but so worthwhile. The environment offered by IWC's and one would think any organisation you would be volunteering with is warm and friendly as most of the people involved are volunteers with good intentions.
It's a great opportunity to add value to existing skills and a relaxed way to learn new ones.
Our raffle overflowed with prizes, all donations from local business and the vendors present; it took us over 25 minutes to call them all out (something we have to address for future as it stops people shopping with vendors, and unless you're winning, it can be pretty dull); our Bric'A'Brac table sold out (which means someone's trash is really someone else' treasure) and our we sold a lot of preloved books (the remainder will be donated to charity). Our bakers were so busy and created delicious treats and took orders for delivery pre-Xmas.
We raised a lot of money for Special Needs Parents Association which is the foundation of our Annual Bazaar, but we also made a difference to our members, especially our new ones, who had never been to the Bazar before.
To receive emails of thanks for a great day, or, I'm so proud to be part of this Club after yesterdays event, to offers of help for next year is really pleasing.
It feels kinda weird today knowing that the two Bazaar's are behind me ...... I'm looking forward to getting back to the gym, catching up with friends, not having my phone beep'n'ring all hours, but in a strange way, I'll miss it too.
G asked me last night, am I now winding down for the holidays, or winding down to wind up for the next event? I didn't dare say the next event LOL.