From Belgium to Sweden

Being a Leo abroad vol. 5 

Hej! My name is Robby Haegdorens and I’m originally a Belgian Leo who moved to Stockholm, Sweden for two years ago. My story is probably a bit different and more challenging than the other stories you’ve been reading so far. Well, let’s begin!

I got my first contacts with the Leo-organization by a Swiss Leo, who I met during a Swedish languagecamp in Uppsala, Sweden, during the summer of 2010. We became friends and he got the idea that if I would join Leo we would have the opportunity to see eachother a few times a year, during international Leo-events. Back then I had never heard about Leo, but I was willing to give it a try and so I joined a local Belgian Leo Club: ‘Overpelt-Midden-Limburg’. I really loved the people and the activities we did. We organized fun-activities and fundraisers for our two social targetgroups: mentally disabled children and a teenage rehabilitation center. It felt really great to give those young people the chance to experience activities that other youngsters often take for granted. At the same moment I started to join my first international events like Lions Europa Forum, Maastricht (NL), 2011 and Leo Europa PreForum, Beveren (B), 2012. In a short time I became a very active Leo!

Leo_OML1Leo_OML2

When I moved to Stockholm finding a local Leo Club was high up on my priority list, but then came the chock. There was no Leo Club in Stockholm or nearby. The nearest Leo Club was located about 150km away from Stockholm and it was very hard to get in touch with some Swedish Leo’s. After a while I understood why it was so hard to get in contact with local Leo’s: in whole of Sweden there were only about 6 Leo Clubs with a total of maximum 40-45 Leo’s. The most of those Leo’s were also very young, between 15-20 years old and they seemed to be quite unorganized. However there was one exception: two lovely girls from Leo Club Värmland!

The girls from Leo Club Värmland immediately asked me if I wanted to join the Swedish delegation at Leo Europa Forum 2012 in Belgium. I felled honoured and of course I said yes. After that occasion I’ve been part of the Swedish delegation at almost every international Leo-event and I even became a member of their club. It didn’t matter to me that the club was located about 300km from Stockholm! From that moment and still today I am member of two Leo Clubs in two different countries!

Sadly Leo Club Värmland isn’t a happy story either: the club was dying and had only a few members left. We didn’t have many social activities, but although we were one of the most active Swedish Leo’s, certainly towards the rest of Europe. Today the club is still struggling, but it isn’t all darkness. For some months ago we decided to give a start for Sweden huge project. We wanted to work on something we really love: International Leo-events and so we started to build on a weekend what will become ‘Sweekend’ in oktober. Having a social activity was very important to us, cause that’s what’s Leos do, but we also hope we will raise awareness about Leonism in Sweden. More information about Sweekend will be announced soon to our international Leo-friends!

LEF2012 LEF2013

Thanks to my interest in Sweden I also got the opportunity to develop myself in the Leo-organization. Today I have to function of ILO for MD101 Sweden and I’m very happy I can build further on the International Leo-relations. We are all one big family and friendship is the most valuable thing you obtain by being a Leo. Although I haven’t met many local Leo’s in Sweden, I’m very happy that I met incredibly many friends all over the Europe. My best experiences in Stockholm are the international Leo’s who come to the city for Erasmus or just are here for a short citytrip. So, I’m certainly a happy Leo and I don’t regret the choices I made!

 Author: Robby Haegdorens,
ILO of MD-101 Sweden

Double-Leo – double fun!

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.

Group foto Charter september 2013The charter of our club “Leo-Club Rotterdam ‘t Witte Huisch” in 2013 was attended by Leos, Lions, friends and family – also from outside of the Netherlands!

Ice skating 2014
Next to formal meetings we have social meetings every month where we meet to get to know each other better – here, by trying not to fall on the ice…

 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.

Musical Pancakes 2013
Pancakes and make-up during the preparation of a musical performed by children with a mental disability.

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.

NL Doet 2014 Regenboog gardening NL Doet 2014 Regenboog gardening Roxanne en ikAt the national service day we helped out at an urban garden project – sore muscles and dirty fingers included!

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

 

Being a Leo abroad – vol. 3

I am Orsolya Jenei from Hungary and I am a member of a swiss Leo Club (Leo Club Rapperswil). My boyfriend is a swiss Leo and when I moved to him I also joined the Leo meetings he attended. Some Leos I already knew from international Leo events, it was really nice to meet them again. The meetings are always really great, in a good atmosphere, people are friendy and open, they are always interested in me and in Hungary. I immediately had friends in a foreign country, although I just moved there. I got very positive impressions about the Leos in Switzerland, they make me feel home abroad. Beside English I can also speak German, so with the language I didn’t have a problem either. But in case I have difficulties with the German language they switch to English, it’s no problem for them.

As I often joined the meetings, in last October they asked me to be an official member of the club. I decided to „leave” my club in Budapest (Pest-Buda Leo Club) because most of my time I spend in Switzerland, unfortunately I can’t attend the meetings in Budapest too often. But when I am in Hungary I try to meet them and support their work. However, „officially” I can be a member of only one Leo club, I still try to be part of both of my clubs.

As a candidate/member of Leo Club Rapperswil I played bingo in an old people’s home, had a small guided tour in the center of Zurich, at the airport, in a TV studio and in a theatre, visited the national convention, took part in the chrismas dinner. All of these activities were really great and I had a nice time with my new Leo friends.

All in all I am really happy to be a member of such a great club! I would suggest for all of those Leos who move abroad for a while to join a local club in order to get to know new people and the new culture.

 Author: Orsolya Zita Jenei
D119 Hungary and MD102 Switzerland

 

Being a Leo abroad – vol.2

Hullo!

I’m Andrej, a proud Slovenian Leo currently lost somewhere in the Netherlands..

There are quite a few differences between living in these two countries (for example, there’s no chance you would see me cycling in the middle of a rainstorm back home), but one important fact links them together. Both of them are infested with Leos! No matter where you go, your Leo spirit shouldn’t be left home to rot… and what better way to feed it other than hanging out with local Leos!

As I can tell from my own experience, all it took was an email explaining how lost I was and Voila! a week later I was already part of a meeting and their next event. It’s as easy as that. So my advice to you is to contact the locals if you are moving somewhere. Not only will it provide you with new friends and charity events that you desperately crave, but it will also fill you with ideas on possible future events and improvements applicable to your own club back home. Next thing you know, you will want to hang out with members of both clubs simultaneously.

Hint: International Leo events. See you there!
PS: For more information about local clubs around the world don’t hesitate to  contact your districts ILO. If he cannot help you be sure to make fun of him or her and find Leos together!

Author: Andrej Maršič
Leo District 129 Slovenia
Leo club Koper- Capodistria

Being a Leo abroad

I am Jenni, a Leo from Finland. For one and a half year I’ve been living, studying and working in Germany, one of the biggest Leo countries in Europe. Before my move I knew quite a few German Leos. They also helped me to connect with Leos who lived close to city I moved in. As we Leos are quite close community, there is always someone who knows someone close there. Leos and Lions as well are one kind of a safety network: I call them my second family.

When going abroad to live there for a while, it is important to integrate to the local culture and everyday life. Small things like how something is working and what to do and where, can sometimes be quite different even in between the European countries. Some things felt silly and I couldn’t understand, but I knew that I could ask my local Leo friends.

Big advantage of knowing locals is that you really get to see so many places in addition to the tourist attractions. I would say that German Leos are also quite well prepared if you ask for a tour of the city you are visiting. The best way to get to know the culture is to visit local family and take part in different events. I stayed for few of days in a Lion family and yes, I was taught how to pour a beer properly.

As an active Leo I wanted to join some activities and meetings, for both meeting new people and not to forget being a Leo. Here in Germany Christmas markets are quite big thing and Christmas time is also really important for our organization. Last year I took part in selling mulled wine (Glühwein) and waffles. This year I was painting the picture for the advent calendar with disabled people. Both are really nice and common Leo activities in Germany.

If you have been to international Leo events you might as well go to German Leo events. Somehow there will be always few international Leos in addition to nearly 200 German Leos. Well Germany is located quite easily in the middle of Europe. Due to the international success, German Leos have also added English seminar to the program of Multi District Seminar held in every October. Also sightseeing is usually provided in the city, so we internationals are hosted very well!

I am very thankful for all of you who have been there for me. And I recommend for every Leo travelling to another country to get contact local Leos. Hospitality is one of the best values we share!

Autohor: Jenni Leskinen