IT’S that time of year again. A season of change that’s all too familiar to the thousands of us who have committed ourselves to the nomadic nature of the extraordinary expatriate existence. Aliens in an unknown land, we’re often at the mercy of our new environment, keenly waiting to discover what adventures behold us in this new chapter of our lives. But daunted also. Daunted by the newness, loneliness and uncertainty of it all.
Thankfully, for many in Hanoi, there are ways to combat the common challenges associated with relocating to a new nation and settling in successfully. And for many newcomers, it began by simply joining the Hanoi International Women’s Club (HIWC). Australian national, Kay Wood is one of the 450 current members of the HIWC, who testify to this. She recalled, “I arrived in Hanoi almost seven years ago with my husband and a case each. He was to teach at a university but I was on my lonesome. An invitation by a neighbour introduced me to HIWC and from that point on, Hanoi took on a whole new life.”
Marina Slewka, from South Africa, revealed that HIWC helped her to settle in much faster in Hanoi than in any other place that she and her family have lived and worked in. She added, “I joined HIWC within the first two weeks I arrived in Hanoi and that was the best thing I did. The Newcomers Coffee Morning was great and helped me to get so much information about almost anything you can think of to help you settle in. I joined on that day. The first year I enjoyed all the coffee mornings, met some lovely ladies and made friends. The second year I joined the events team and had even more fun.”
But why does the HIWC hold such value in the lives and hearts of members? Venezuelan national, Trevor Peacocke, who joined in 2015 explains, “HIWC hedges against the boredom of meaningless shopping fixes and the inevitable culture shock. The Club also offers an instant family and strong sense of belonging with a variety of activities and circles to get engaged in. I helped organise and execute the Silent Auction at last year’s Bazaar. It was a privilege to work with a focused, nononsense volunteer crew.”
The magic of HIWC to meet the needs of the transient expatriate community in Hanoi over the last 30 years, is evident by the phenomenal size and diversity of the organisation. With membership figures at an all time high, 70 nationalities represented, and a reported 70 percent of members actively engaged in Club activities and causes, HIWC has proudly become the epicentre of the social and voluntary life of a significant proportion of expatriates in the city.
Gill Lever, the President of the HIWC since May 2015, says that one of the things that makes HIWC unique is its small yet dedicated team of volunteers. She says “The Club simply couldn’t run without our amazing volunteers. They willingly giving up hours of their time and know how
to make a difference not only the expatriate community in Hanoi, but to the lives of many vulnerable women and children through our fundraising and community aid work.”
If you’re new to Hanoi there are many ways you can join the HIWC. You can sign up for any, or all, of these great upcoming events via our Facebook page or by emailing us at:firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. And if you really want to get stuck in, we are actively recruiting for bazaar team volunteers.
● Newcomers Coffee Morning August 30th and September 6th
● HIWC Monthly Coffee Morning August 18th
● Nite Owls event August 24th
● Welcome Back Party September 10th
● HIWC 25th “Silver Jubilee” Annual Charity Bazaar November 27th