|Moi taken by a pro with soft focus and Photoshop... |
a couple of years ago...
I know I don't look much like an Ambassador but that's because I haven't spent any years in the diplomatic service, but I have been living in Montpellier for absolutely ages.
That, plus being a cheery soul (!), is what qualified me to be picked as an Ambassador for the international organisation InterNations.
InterNations is a worldwide community of expats and those with international interests, so groups are made up of people from many different countries.
What it is not is a ghetto of Brits who spend their time slagging each other off and criticising their host country. This is because the community is not aimed at Brits, but at everyone, whatever their nationality, who finds themself in a foreign city, or has lived abroad and wants to maintain links with an international community, or who has double nationality, etc.
In the UK, there are groups in Cardiff, Bristol, Nottingham, London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and so on. There's a group on Micronesia, and one on Honolulu, to give two fairly far-flung locations. In France there are groups in Paris, Montpellier, Nice, Cannes, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Lille, Lyon, and Strasbourg, and anyone who lives in a large enough international community can start up a new group.
As Ambassador, working together with another one, I help set up monthly get-togethers. These take place after work once a month and we usually organise them in a bar, pub or wine bar. All members are invited and they can bring guests too who will, if they enjoy themselves, become members and further add to the local group.
The get-togethers are not meetings - there's no agenda, no committee, no minutes - everyone just has a good time over a drink, chatting. The Montpellier group has over 500 members, 24 of which regularly attend the monthly get-togethers, and never the same ones, which means there's always someone new to meet.
As Ambassador, I have to answer queries from people who want information about, for example, relocating to the area, or where to find lodging, and so on. On the website, there are expat guides around the world, with information on visas, expat destinations and country-specific hints.
Membership is free, members attend the monthly get-togethers for free, and can communicate with other members for free. Then there is paid membership which offers more advantages, like free access to certain paying events.
If you'd like to find out more about InterNations, just go onto their website, internations.org and if you live in and around Montpellier and would like to join the local community, just email me and I'll send you an invitation (on sarah at sarahhague dottie com). We have a get together this Friday at 6.30pm, all welcome, email me for details.
No one better as ambassador for Montpellier!ReplyDelete
(Have you seen Hollande's latest totty?)
Thanks Fly. :)Delete
(Yes I have, she must be nuts!)
What a very good idea. Love the photo. :-)ReplyDelete
Thanks Perpetua. :)Delete
The ideal person for the job. Enjoy your new role!ReplyDelete
Thanks Trish. :)Delete
What a great idea. Makes me want to move abroad to meet all those interesting people!ReplyDelete
Yes, it's a very jolly group, and so diverse. :)Delete
Get yourself some Atol glasses, then you can be the Adriana Carambeu of the expat ambassador world :-) I'll check out the site. Sounds reassuringly human- I had always avoided expat groups since terrifying experiences as a fille au pair watching expat mothers trying to upstage eachother with high-market gifts as their four-year-olds bit their nannies.ReplyDelete
Atol glasses? Funny you should say that, my new pair arrived just last Monday... :)Delete
The only problem is I can just wear them for driving and seeing long distances, can't see a thing close up. I even have to wear my old glasses for the computer! Bifocals cost a grand though so tough titty for me. :)
I've heard dreadful tales of British expat communities. There's a really bad one around Céret apparently. :)
My experiences with snobbish British ex-pats and toxic American ex-pats In Switzerland were not good. I guess they were all insecure and showing off for each other.Delete
Internations sounds good. Congratulations on your new post. I'll see what the Honolulu branch is up to. I live on a different island. But hearing about such an organization puts a bee in my bonnet, as it were. Maybe we need something like Internations here.
Go for it, Hattie! :)Delete
You never stop, Sarah! Where do you find the time? I have just joined InterNations. I don't really know what to expect!ReplyDelete
It's a tough call, Muriel. I have to go to bars in Montpellier to scout out a nice one for our monthly get-togethers, post it on the website and then go along on the day with a list and some labels. :)Delete
I'd love to know what you think of the London group and if you go to any get-togethers.
Ha! This is such a great post for you Sarah!!! yes I agree with MuMu - you have incredible energy. Love your what it's not "ghetto of Brits who spend their time slagging each other off and criticising their host country. " I have wanted to join some Kiwi groups and I have gone to a few things but am worried about the get-togethers deteriorating into the slagging off thing. And Kiwis are ace at slagging off ...ReplyDelete
There's an Internations group at San Francisco, Jody, fyi. :)Delete
I suppose I have the energy because my job is pretty stress-free. This is good because it means I can do other stuff outside work.
Actually my last foray with the Kiwi group here introduced me to the Mule, ginger beer and gin which was a re-sult.Delete
That's really interesting - am going to pass on info to elder daughter, who is working in Brussels for a year.ReplyDelete
Great idea! The Brussels group must be huge!! :)Delete
I have decided not to be an expat. I am just your average immigrant :)ReplyDelete
Average immigrants welcome too although you might be interested to know the definition of your status: an expatriate is a person who lives outside their native country (according to the Oxford Dicco). :)Delete
Great idea. I belong to a brilliant international women's group in Bordeaux, 28 nationalities at the last count and the only proviso is that we all speak English. They're a really interesting bunch.ReplyDelete
That sounds a jolly group. :)Delete
Blimey, you're beautiful!ReplyDelete
I belonged to Internations, when I lived in the US, but our nearest group was a 12-hour drive away. They did very kindly invite me to lots of "drinks after work" events, but - call me unadventurous - a 24 hour round trip is a little much for the pleasure of a drink or two.
Oh, thank you Iota, how kind! :)Delete
I wouldn't go on a 12-hr drive for a drink either, but you were you in the back of beyond?
Congratulations, Ambassador Sarah!ReplyDelete