Friday, 2 September 2016

ms-havachat on Belonging

Back in June, before the long (northern hemisphere) summer school holidays started, we chatted about Volunteering at School (revisit chat here).

Did you put your hand up for anything? OHHHH, do tell! How's it going?

I did ...... on two Boards (aka committees).

I told G about one, but not the other for a few weeks as I knew he'd flaunt his eyes at me and smirk (which he did LOL)

Fortunately I'm a rather organised person, and have learnt a thing or two over the years about committees and feel like I can juggle the two, and as luck would have it, they are intertwined in many ways.

I'm on the School Board (which to me sounds like the governing body, which it isn't - it's the school parents committee) in a high profile social role which suits me down to the ground and I'm really enjoying it.

I also ended up on the International Women's Club Board which is something I really didn't think I'd do here, tho I'm actually very pleased it's worked out the way it has.

This means:

  • Two separate Monthly Board Meetings to prepare for and attend
    • Two reports to be written
    • Two lots of minutes to read and address
  • Two General Monthly Meetings to participate in
    • For one position, I plan/host a regular event held every 4-6 weeks
    • For the other role, I am on the planning/hosting team 
  • Sub-committees
    • Nominated for one official sub-committee on one Board
    • Trying not to get on any sub committees on the other Board (early days yet)
  • Between the two Boards, there's 20+ potential new friends, or at the very least, acquaintances from several countries.
  • Lots of new skills to learn from the other Board Members
  • The opportunity to influence change and share my experiences and ideas (a couple have already been accepted on both Boards which is rewarding)

Beyond the work side of things, being nominated and accepted is really pleasing as it reminds me  
that despite my occasional big mouth, and loud opinions, my liberal opinions and my occasional lapse of diplomacy, that I have a wide social circle, and I'm part of the community. 

Most of us like to feel like we belong. That we fit in. That we have a tribe to hang out with. These things are possibly even more important to an expat, who moves often. If we're here for just our contract, which is 2 years, we don't have time to fluff around! We'll be gone before we do anything!

We've been here just on one year ..... minus all the school holidays ...... it's not that long in the scheme of things to establish a life, make friends, build trust, and feel at home. 

The women on both Boards are so interesting. The diversity of careers, education (some with no degrees, some with one others with several),  skills etc is awesome! And that's BEFORE you learn about their expat experiences! I think that's one reason expats gravitate towards volunteering. We can't necessarily work depending on visa status, so being involved on a committee allows us to use our brains and skills - some take things a tad too seriously sometimes, but it all works out in the end. 

It's still a good idea when you're new to hang back, sussing things out before wanting to commit. But it's the best way to avoid mistakes and taking on too much or doing something you really don't enjoy.
Our school board is itching to ask newbies to 'get involved' and I've cautioned them to be calmer about it. 

Just think when you were new and all the things you were busy navigating on behalf of the family - getting involved in a school event is the farthest thing from your mind! Happy to join in, but organise, forget it! We need to allow newbies to settle in, suss out the opportunities then pounce on them.

So, with todays meetings agenda printed out, and last weeks (other) board meeting minutes approved, I'm happy I found a few minutes to bash this out and share with you as it's been a while. 

I'd love to know what committees you are on, your role, what you love about being involved, your plans for the year ..................

With friendship

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