Being a Leo abroad, vol. 4
Hi, my name is Irene and I’ve been a Leo in Germany for 9 years – AND a Leo in the Netherlands for 3 years! Let me quickly tell you the story how I became a double-Leo and how I experience “being a Leo abroad”.
During high-school and my bachelor studies I’ve always been a member of Leo-Club Krefeld which is lovely club in the far west of Germany. When I moved to Rotterdam for my master studies I wanted to establish a Leo-life there as well. I was surprised to find out that no club existed in Rotterdam – quite unusual for the second biggest city of a country not to have any Leos. So instead I joined the Leos in The Hague which is just a 30 minute metro-ride away. The meetings were mixed in Dutch and English since there were other international members from Chile and Romania. I participated in meetings, social events and, of course, activities.
One of the most popular activities in the Netherlands is participating in the “NL-doet-dag” which means the “Netherlands-does-day”. This is a national day of service. Organizations such as old people’s homes, sport clubs or schools can register a “job” that they need help with. The “jobs” can be renovating rooms, gardening, building a playground or going on trips. With the Leos from The Hague we attended a group of children on a daytrip to a farm with a petting zoo and lots of outside activities.
After I’d been a Leo in The Hague for a year, I heard about a small group of enthusiastic people in Rotterdam who wanted to start a Leo-Club. They came from Germany and the Netherland and had lived all over the world during their childhood and studies. I joined the group and we decided to found the first official international Leo-Club of the Netherlands. Next to German and Dutch members, we have/had members from Hungary, Italy and Hong-Kong. All our meetings, minutes and other documents are in English. We chartered our club in September 2013 with 14 members and have been growing ever since.
When picking our activities we have to make sure they don’t depend too heavily on the Dutch language so that all our members can participate. We have supported a school for mentally disabled children a lot who needed help with repetitions for a musical: we baked hamburgers and pancakes during repetitions, helped them to memorize texts and supported them on their big evening.
And of course, as good Dutch Leos, we also participated in the NL-doet-dag! Together with our sponsor Lions club we helped the local urban garden movement with cutting bushes, planting seeds, digging and repairing.
Most of the Leos, Lions and the Dutch in general speak English very well – so we hardly have problems to communicate. And if there is any problem, we help each other to translate or simply speak with our hands. And a smile has never been misunderstood in any language 🙂
In case you want to learn more about our club, the Dutch or German Leos or you are in Rotterdam by any chance: contact us, we are happy to hear from you!
leoclub-rotterdam [at] gmail.com
Author: Irene Pohl
ILO MD-111 2013/14, Germany
Leo-Club Rotterdam ‘t Witte Huisch, the Netherlands
Leo-Club Krefeld, Germany