|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.