International Almere is an English speaking organization whose aim is to connect and build essential social networks with people who understand the unique situation of being a foreigner in this modern Dutch city.
An interview with Connie Koorevaar-Goeks. (1st part)
- What are the main activities of IA?
- As a social networking organization, we provide opportunities for members to get together, to meet, to have fun and an information source for those integrating into the Dutch society.
We do this by providing one day event, usually a family event – like going to the pancake boat or an adults golfing day over the Summer.
We also promote one night event per month like the social evenings at Anno.
We have too at least three major events per year like the picnic in July, the Halloween party in October and the Christmas party in December.
We maintain and update the website and a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Meetups to help with social connections.
- What were the most successful activities organized by IA?
- Zuiderzee museum visit and the summer picnic, but our social evenings at Anno are also a very big success as well as the Ladies Movie Nights.
- You are one of the committee members of IA. What are your main responsabilities there?
- I’m sort of the “everything” person. We have two official committee members, myself and Melanie Hill, who registered IA through the KvK [Kamer van Koophandel; The Chamber of Commerce] in March 2010.
- How did you and Melanie start working together as committee members and became the main responsible persons for the project?
- I first heard of IA sometime around April or so last year. Melanie joined right before I did by a month or two. At that time, IA wasn't an official organization, but mostly mothers with kids that met once a month at the bar and once a month at someone's house.
Around this time, the group had grown so big that we didn't think it was a good idea to open houses up to people we didn't know. There was a strong push for the group to be made official, so Becky -who runs the Almere Baby Club group and was the official IA person in the beginning - asked if I'd help out with the internet stuff.
- Does IA have partnerships?
- Yes, and we are always looking to add new ones. We were lucky that WTCAA [World Trade Center Almere Area] took interest in us right from the start and have worked with us to start a community that is beneficial to everyone. We are also strengthening our connections with the International schools and the International church, but we aren't officially partnered with them yet.
We believe that the international community needs to be united to make us all stronger and to share resources so that we’re able to provide better and more varied options for the internationals living in Almere and also to be able to come together and support each other by firstly using our own resources before going outside of the community.
- How many expats are members of IA?
- Currently our mailing list is sent to over 120 addresses. Most are families, a very small amount is organizations or groups that support expats.
- How do you describe the community?Are they more women than men?
- We definitely have more active female members as most are married to Dutch men. Ages range from 20’s – 50’s.
- Where are they from?
- We have over 19 countries represented: USA, Canada, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, Denmark, France, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Poland, Romania, China, Korea, Japan.