May 24, 2007
Today was the annual business meeting of the Guangzhou Women’s International Club, or GWIC. This friendship available through this club is one of the very special things about an expat assignment in Guangzhou.
GWIC is open to every woman who holds a foreign passport. I’m told that this stands in contrast to other cities, where expat clubs are limited to certain nationalities. The diversity within GWIC does add cross cultural challenges! But on the other hand, it makes club membership a very enriching and mind-expanding experience.
Additionally, I’m told, women in other cities, with larger expat communities, tend to be stratifiedin within their clubs by status and prestige of company and position. Not so here. The women of GWIC make a point of being inclusive, helpful, and supportive for all women who find themselves newcomers in a foreign land.
The leadership of GWIC attempts to have at least one activity each week, so that women who find themselves lonely or depressed will have an opportunity to get out of the house and make new friends. Within GWIC, there are special interest meetings and activities, such as newcomers meet and greet, cooking group, book club, professional women’s night out, monthly luncheons, and monthly trips to various places in the vicinity of Guangzhou. Many lasting friendships are forged through GWIC.
Here’s a personal GWIC story of just one way GWIC has helped me. Upon returning from the USA one time, I confessed to a GWIC Board member that I was having a hard time adusting to the return. I had not gone out in a taxi even. My mind rebelled against the thought of speaking Mandarin again. I just couldn’t bring myself to cope with the challenge of struggling to make myself understood to a taxi driver whose primary motive was to drive me the longest way possible to a destination. The Board member exclaimed, "You must go out every day, or you’ll get depressed!" Then she said, "I’ll take you what, I’ll take you for a foot massage tomorrow." (Foot massage is one of the luxuries of Guangzhou, costing about 35 RMB for a 45 minute session.) Sure enough, she did take me out. We had a lovely afternoon together, and that got me over the hump.
GWIC also helps women find their way around, not only to find out where to buy cheese or coffee, but also where to find expat medical clinics or how to arrange a medical evacuation. Minor and major details of life.
Every expatriate woman who is considering a move to Guangzhou should, in my opinion, take advantage of the information, resources, and support of GWIC! The GWIC web site is at: http://www.gwic.org/ Check it out!