Saturday, 5 June 2010


Seems like my blogging is going to get me into trouble. I recently wrote a pretty strong piece about people behaving badly in Almaty, since I had been to about three social events in a row where I had come home at the end of the night feeling slightly depressed at the attitudes of a few people who would rather criticise others and spread rumours, than big things up in the name of a happy life abroad.

One of the main threads of my argument was based around the recent troubles of the Almaty International Women's Group. This organisation, which is central to the lives of many who live here, certainly when they first arrive, has had problems with presidents moving on more quickly than they expected, and has been begging its members to step up and fill the several positions on the committee that it needs (any large organisation has to have a full committee and cannot function properly without one, since there is too much work that needs to be done properly. If a position remains vacant for too long, then the detail in that role gets lost and nothing happens except the absolute basics, and eventually this can cause things to grind to a halt).

Quite a few of the positions on the AIWC board have been empty for months now, and this is bad for the image of the group - people wonder why these positions remain empty for so long and may assume that it is not a happy committee to join, and it makes the organisation look less healthy. I know many oif the ladies on the AIWC board, and so I am sure that this would not be the case. So why then, do these positions remain empty for so long when there are plenty of people around to fill them? What it says about the people living here is perhaps that they are so independent that they do not feel they need an organisation like the AIWC. Or perhaps they feel that the group doesn't offer them enough for their own personal situations. Or maybe they just can't be bothered to help out, and are waiting for others to step up to the mark. Maybe there is simply not the depth of people here to support a group of this size (I think the membership varies from about 200-350) - I don't know. My mother runs a 100-strong patchwork group in Dorset, and she finds exactly the same thing happens there too! Seems to be something to do with groups of women in general!!

My post was really a rant about the lack of drive and enthusiasm from within the expatriate community for keeping this organisation going. I want it to be better supported.

I do have some opinions about these groups that others will not agree with. My personal opinion is that Women's Clubs world wide are lacking in some ways: they tend not to really adapt to the changing demographics and needs of expatriate workers which nowadays tend to include many younger secondees and many more male trailing spouses. As a member of Seoul International Women's Club, I was really disappointed when a general vote to include men in the club failed to pass the motion. But even with their shortcomings, and slow reactions to changing demographics,  I do recognise that these clubs form a vital life line for many hundreds of people who live away from home and it saddens me to see one in relatively bad shape.

Normally I would be volunteering myself for a position to help out - previously I have edited a magazine for one group in Seoul, been on the fundraising committee of another group and regularly contributed to a magazine in Bangkok. I have helped out with fund-raising bazaars, run play groups, organised dances and balls and generally been pretty active in getting things going for the expatriate community in all of the places that I have lived. In Kaz, my husband and I organise a Charity Burns Supper once a year (we started this because no one had done it the year before we arrived), but apart from that, I have been pregnant for 11 months, had a miscarriage and a fourth baby, with a husband whose working day averages about 14 hours and I simply do not have the time available to become a committed member of the organising group at the moment.

Well, it seems my rant was too strong for some and I am now under scrutiny from some key members of the community, one of whom read my blog after coming across it on the internet and forwarded it to other friends with the line "With friends like these, who needs enemies"! Oh dear. I have sent a defensive, explanatory email back to these ladies which I hope will do the job, and have removed my post lest any other readers feel that my original message was not on the course.

Time will only tell if I have managed to salvage things, or maybe I will be blacklisted for ever! Yikes...

(If you are interested to read the original rant, send me a comment and I will post it back to you. If you have enough nonsense in your life already, don't bother ha ha ha)


  1. I burnt my bridges with my MIL when by darling BIL printed a rant off and gave it to her!

  2. I didn't read it as a rant when it was posted originally, actually thought you were pointing out that the club needed volunteers which resonated given we have a similar problem with recruitment at our local NCT branch

  3. Definitely food for thought, you have to be so careful about what you write of course. But the main thing I take away from this is how people can completely misinterpret the written word, and how quickly people jump to conclusions!