Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Island Activities

Just received an email from the American Women's Club of Curaçao. It brought back such memories! The club was always there to provide support. Whoever is staying put this Summer will be getting regular messages on what to do for entertaining. This list includes art shows, a classical music recital, and AIDS fundraising with a Dutch artist, a marine biology workshop given by a doctor from Chicago, a dance presentation and a tour of one of the landhuizen (plantation houses) that includes an Antillean buffet. Definitely more than I have planned for the next two weeks! and then they ask me what do I miss about the island.

My involvement in the AWCC was a true lifesaver. My friends urged me to join, after all I had American children. It all started when my son wanted to know if they had Halloween in Curaçao. That seemed an important question when we told him we were moving. The AWCC did, along with Thanksgiving with all the trimmings and a Christmas party that had the best Santa ever. So joining was a given. What I never imagine was how involved I would get. They had me for treasurer (I have no clue why since I can't even balance my checkbook!), president, secretary; I was the unofficial historian and for the last few years, FAWCO rep. What is that, you might ask. I will let you know, don't worry.

First let's talk about our club. American women are everywhere, did you know that? They have been living in every country in the world for generations. For years, it was marriages that took them there, they married a "foreigner" and move to his country or the husbands were transferred by the companies they worked for. Lately is their own jobs that takes them abroad. Once they arrive, these women get involved in their new communities and put their best foot forward to help in any way possible. I mean this, they get there and organized themselves into clubs and get to work. Did you know that American women's clubs all over the world raise thousands of dollars (in every currency imaginable!) every year for charity? that they do it selflessly, having fun at it and without fanfare? These women mean business and making their new countries a better place seems a natural thing for them.

Then there is FAWCO. Did I tell you I was their representative in Curaçao? Of course, I did. I'm very proud of that. The Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas was founded in 1932 in Europe. Nowadays it includes about 17,000 members in 78 clubs in 36 countries! It is a force to be reckoned with and a Non Governmental Organization of the U.N. FAWCO has lobbied, and still does, in Washington D.C. for the right of Americans to vote from overseas, the right to pass American citizenship to children and grandchildren of Americans living abroad and paying taxes in the US. It is involved in environmental and educational issues, women and aging issues and a host of other worthy causes..... and you thought American women only wanted to have fun!

I have yet to find a group that would fill those shoes in my life. Of course there are the ones that return and have to adapt again to life in the States. Difficult, trust me. Especially, because we encounter a bit of a condescending attitude. As if by reminiscing we are somehow....... bragging! What we miss, what we did and what we can't do here are points some don't want to hear about. Better keep to ourselves, nobody is interested, "please get over it, you're back in the States" is a common feeling. What to do?....... get a blog and reminisce away!!!! Here is to the AWCC, may it continue to flourish and help others adapt to island living!

1 comment:

vicki said...

This is my first contribution to a blog, but here goes...
Here's a bit of news regarding FAWCO. This year FAWCO has a photography project to celebrate American women living overseas, whose amazing lives abroad have inspired those around them. Krissy Capriles from our Curacao AWC was one of 28 overseas American women from around the world chosen to be honored for how their amazing lives have inspired others. Krissy will be included in the photography book and expo at the next Annual FAWCO conference in Seoul, South Korea.