InterNations co-founder Malte Zeeck paid a visit to our Brussels Community last week – here are some of his impressions from his trip:
It is -2 degrees Celsius when I am walking down the Rue du Châtelain looking for the All Suite Hotel, a five-star hotel in Brussels where tonight’s InterNations January Event is taking place. The trip to Brussels is especially nice as it is one of InterNations most popular communities. Arriving at the event location I immediately see why. Two young international students do the accreditation for the event in a lush and elegant setting. Everything is perfectly organized as I receive my InterNations Dollar for a free welcome drink of champagne and my name tag, which includes the colorful German flag. 550 members from 70 different nations have signed up for this event. There is a truly international feeling in this room while I am talking to members of the European Parliament, hotel architects, consultants, diplomats, journalists and other interesting individuals. The guests are elegantly dressed and the mood is cheerful.
Everyone is here to meet others, be it for friendship or for business. Our two very active ambassadors, Eric Vanderdonck, a young Belgian global mind who spent a lot of time in South America and Lorenzo Piazza, a charismatic Italian, a fan of Florence’s football club Fiorentina who works for the European Commission, are busy greeting old members and introducing newcomers to others. Lorenzo just came back from the InterNations Ski Weekend in Les Diablerets, Switzerland, where he injured his arm, but he nevertheless greets every single member. It is a pleasure for me to say a few words when asked to do so by the two Ambassadors. I am happy to thank those two for hosting great events in Brussels for 1,5 years now, with an ever-growing popularity. By now they even organize two big events per month, one for networking in an elegant hotel setting, the other one in a posh club where members get the chance to dance. This drives around 700 of the more than 6000 members to the monthly events in Brussels, which makes it one of the biggest event-communities of InterNations. The members seem to enjoy the evening a lot and many tell me that they have met good friends through InterNations. At one o’clock I happily call it a night and retire to the very cozy and classy Stanhope hotel, another regular InterNations event location.
On the next day Eric and Lorenzo show me the A-Loft, the location for the next Brussels Get-Together and over “Pappardelle Cinghiale” and Chianti in the Italian restaurant “La Fattoria del Chianti” we discuss the future of the Brussels Community. It is great to see how many ideas these two Ambassadors have for their community.
This time I do get the chance to stay the weekend and to discover Brussels in more detail. Under a bright blue sky and freezing temperatures I get to see all the things Brussels is famous for. There is the Belgian Royal Palace, the impressive Grand-Place surrounded by picturesque guildhalls and the Gothic town hall, the Galeries Saint-Hubert, the Musée Magritte and the Comic Museum where I get to admire sketches of the creators of Tin Tin, Lucky Luke, Asterix or the smurfs. Brussels is the world capital of comic strips and you even find them scattered all around town on the facades of houses. I walk past the landmark of Brussels, the “Manneken Pis” (a little man peeing – a beautiful fountain) and see what most people do not know about Brussels, the peeing woman “Jeanneke Pis” and even a peeing dog. The European quarter with Place Luxembourg and Place Schumann, the European Parliament building and the Commission, many embassies and shiny glass buildings stand in quite a contrast to the old town. Of course I also try the Belgian frites, the Carbonade and the special beers and I am impressed by the many chocolatiers who present their chocolates in the windows of their shops like diamonds and jewelry. It is fun to discover Brussels and the Belgians seem to be friendly and open towards foreigners. I can only recommend a visit it if you have the time.