InterNations Founder and Co-CEO Malte Zeeck tells us of his visit to the InterNations Bonn Community, a city of great personal importance to him.
A Trip down Memory Lane
Former capital city of West Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, birthplace of the famous composer Beethoven, and also home to my former high school: Bonn really is a beautiful city with a rich history. In July, I had the opportunity to return to Bonn to attend my 20-year high school reunion at the Aloisiuskolleg in Bad Godesberg.
As well as taking a trip down memory lane, I decided that, while I was there, it would be nice to catch up with the members of the InterNations Bonn Community. Given its international past, it is not surprising that Bonn still attracts large numbers of expats who work, for example, for the United Nations, Deutsche Post, and Telekom. Currently, the Bonn Community consists of about 4,000 members and has a dozen different groups for activities from multilingual meet-ups to Sunday brunches to outdoor activities.
Global Minds Make Great Company
Although the weather was rather cloudy on the morning of the event, just as I was heading to the Strandbar — a stunning venue situated on the Rhine, directly next to Kameha Grand Hotel — the sun started shining, right on cue. The event was organized by two of our three Bonn Ambassadors, Zrinka and Birgit. All of the Bonn Ambassadors are perfect examples of what it really means to be a global mind.
Zrinka was born in Croatia and has been travelling abroad from a young age. All of the travelling with her parents had a big impact on Zrinka, and she has been studying and working abroad for the majority of her life. Birgit is a local from Germany and is currently living in Bonn with her family. She has a lot of experience in an international business environment, having spent 15 years working for big multinationals.
The third InterNations Ambassador, Alexandra, unfortunately could not attend the event, though I’d have loved to get to know her as well. Originally from Russia, she speaks five languages and has also spent 14 years of her life working for international companies. All these women perfectly capture the InterNations spirit, and it was a pleasure to meet and spend time with them.
Not Just for the Locals
Not only did I get to meet many of the members, InterNations Consuls and Ambassadors of the Bonn Community, but the event also gave me the chance to meet members from several other InterNations Communities in nearby cities, including Cologne, Düsseldorf, Essen, and Dortmund.
One of our much-loved Cologne ambassadors, Kate, also made the trip to Bonn to attend the event, and InterNations Dortmund Ambassador, Vanessa, travelled the whole way from Dortmund to join us for the wonderful evening. The fact that they all took the time to come here really shows the community spirit of InterNations, and it was also a great excuse for a long-overdue catch up!
There were a number of journalists at the event as well and, sitting comfortably in one of the beach loungers, I gave a few interviews — it was an amazing opportunity to spread the word on InterNations and get more people involved.
A Great Success All Around
As the evening progressed, more and more members arrived and enjoyed a refreshing welcome drink. Birgit introduced me to many of the guests: It was a genuine pleasure getting to know them and hearing how InterNations had helped to make their transition abroad that little bit easier. I also got the chance to listen to feedback from some of the InterNations Consuls and members, as well as talk through some of their concerns.
Getting the opportunity to discuss these issues face to face with people who have first-hand experience of living and working abroad is always a very eye-opening experience. I also had the chance to say a much-deserved special thank you to our volunteers, who really are an essential part of every InterNations Community, and to encourage others to get more actively involved in our community by starting new groups or even just taking part in our activities.
The evening went on well until midnight before the bar served us our final drinks and I headed for bed at my hotel, which was conveniently located next door. It really was a thoroughly enjoyable evening in a city I will always have a soft spot for!
(Image credit: Sunset over the Rhine and the Seven Mountains by Wikimedia Commons user Hans Weingartz 2)-4) Malte Zeeck/InterNations)