Social media, when used properly and positively, can be an extremely useful tool, and proof of this is Anne Scott, who spends her time between Palma, Germany and London, running the world’s largest female expat community (according to Facebook Community Summit, February 2018) - Girl Gone International.
GGI currently has 250,000 members and growing. It has active hubs in 130 cities across the world. It holds 4,000 free events per year to support and empower expatriate women. Girl Gone International’s mission is to connect, feel a sense of belonging far from home and make friends wherever they are.
The Scottish founder of Girl Gone International, Anne, started the organisation in Hamburg in 2010 inspired by her life overseas, moving between ten cities in ten years. GGI is now in Berlin (13,000 members), Hamburg (5,000 members), Freiburg, Hannover, Dusseldorf, Dresden, Munich, Frankfurt and some 120 other cities across the world.
One of the key events Anne organises is an international gathering in Majorca every year, and this week thirty women have come to the island from all over the world. They have flown in from the US, Australia, Brazil, the UK, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, Malaysia, Poland, Singapore, Russia and Sweden. The purpose of the event is to celebrate international friendship, expatriate life and a shared love of travel. The five-day schedule includes Majorcan wine tasting and tapas at Sa Portassa in Alaro, a day of self-care workshops provided by local business women, a nine-hour island tour from Tui, a Eurovision song contest party and beach days.
Anne explained that she does not like the word 'expatriate'. "We are all women who, for one reason or another, happen to find ourselves living and working overseas, away from our country of origin so I don’t really like the label ‘expat’, but it helps to explain the GGI message. GGI is an identity, a way of life, friendship and belonging. We are a thriving culture of badass women who live, work, love and travel far from where we started - or want to.
"We are a big, open, co-created volunteer network, an empowering peer-to-peer support system, an open sisterhood, an inspiring storytelling and wisdom-sharing platform. We create local and global communities, 1000s of free, fun, super chill events, a free biannual digital lifestyle magazine with over 100,000 unique readers and share via our social network with a monthly reach of up to two million."
Digital community consultant Anne, who has helped leading international companies such as Facebook and Costa Coffee create digital communities and lectured at numerous global conferences, said that there are some 220 million people who are not living in their country of birth.
"GGI is a non-profit making venture which is aimed at helping women working overseas feel part of a community. They may have to move abroad for work reasons, or perhaps their partner has been posted overseas and they suddenly find themselves in a new environment which can be daunting for anyone.
"To begin with, there are hurdles to overcome such as the language, different customs and cultures and, in most cases, trying to find new friends and build local relationships. Ii is not easy. So, what GGI is all about is bringing women working overseas together via social media. Used properly, it’s a great tool for community building and getting a message out, but the aim is to eventually get as many of the members together face to face as possible as often as we can every year - hence this event in Majorca.
"I’ve been through it myself. After having studied international economics and languages at university, I was offered some very lucrative positions. But I did my Erasmus in Venezuela, went to Granada and eventually took a detour from my career path and ended up pulling pints in Palma and working for various tour firms before becoming a consultant to start-up businesses. I eventually created GGI using all my know-how, having been, and am, a girl who’s gone international. This is how I consider all the members and co-workers I have around the world helping to organise events in their countries, not expats.
"It’s all about building local communities. In some countries the groups are obviously larger than others. I guess Germany is where I have the most members because that is where I first set it up, but we have little, expanding groups all across countries in Asia, for example. GGI is a platform for women working abroad to connect. They may feel disjointed and unhappy, a bit lost perhaps, so GGI gives them a chance to improve their lives, find friends and happiness and get the very best out of the country they are living and working in. It’s very organic and exciting and we also do our best to interact with small local businesses by organising workshops and presentations. GGI offers an empowering journey."
For more information visit www.girlgoneinternational.com
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