This week in The Netherlands it is the Week Against Loneliness. We know a lot of expat partners can feel lonely in a new country. Not Kate, she volunteers!
Kate: “It took a couple of months to get settled. I remember the first time I went to a grocery store, I think I was there about three hours trying to figure out what things were and where to find them.”
Kate had the plan to start volunteering before she moved to Eindhoven as it has always been a big part of her life. Back in the United States, her job was to manage the operations and volunteers at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge and The Cam Neely Foundation’s Neely House, both housing organizations for cancer patients and their families while they receive treatment far from home. Kate’s goal was to volunteer in Eindhoven using her talents to keep her resume going, but unfortunately it is a problem for organizations if you don’t speak Dutch.
“First time I volunteered was at Stadsakkers. The hardest part is that first step. It’s hard to venture into the unknown. But once I did I really enjoyed it! Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, be part of the community and learn about the culture.” according to Kate. “In my volunteer experiences, I have had the privilege of witnessing the behind-the-scenes of a huge event like the Dutch Design week. Also, I get to see how people work in a different culture. For example, the Dutch are very direct. If they want you to do something, they will just tell you. I like it here, I like the Dutch honesty.”
You meet people who have similar values
“When you meet people who volunteer, they usually do it for the same reasons as you do, so you’re all on the same page already. You meet people who have similar values.”
Take that first step!
“I loved my job back in America. I helped people in my job and I wanted to continue doing so here. There are many reasons to volunteer but mine was always that I wanted to help and I wanted to work with people. I found myself feeling depressed and worthless when I wasn’t accomplishing something every day. Volunteering also gives me structure to my day, it gives me something to look forward to, something to be proactive about. It gives me a sense of meaning. My advice to other expat partners is take that first step! Volunteering is a good way to get yourself out there.”