The International Spouse Network (ISN), a group of spouses and significant others in Williamsburg who have a connection to the College of William & Mary, includes members from all over the globe interested in making new friends and participating in cultural activities.
The 2011-12 ISN will be led by Chako Owaki and Tomoko Nakada, both of Japan, with assistance from Eva Wong, International Student and Scholar Advisor at the Reves Center for International Studies.
Last month, the ISN fall schedule kicked off with an opening meeting attended by 14 members. Women from Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, Taiwan, Serbia and the United States came together to plan social activities, cultural classes and language lessons designed to promote friendship and cross-cultural understanding. One week later, nine members and their children participated in a campus tour including a guided tour of the historic Wren Building.
“I hope that the group can provide friendship and support, and become a good way to learn about each other’s cultures,” Wong told the group at its opening meeting before a slideshow of past activities, including a visit to Jamestown, a Thanksgiving potluck lunch, Turkish backgammon games and Taiwanese cooking lessons, was shown.
Erica Waterman, an American participant, was back for her second year of ISN membership.
“I participated last year and loved it," Waterman said. "I got to know international spouses and felt like it was an important opportunity to share our culture with them, too.”
Karolina Rudolph, originally of Serbia, decided to become involved with the ISN as a way to further personal interests.
“I just moved to Williamsburg several months ago and have been looking for something interesting to do,” Rudolph explained. “I studied International Relations, so meeting new people and learning new languages is an interest of mine.”
Many members also participate in the ISN in order to practice their English language skills. For Ann Tung of the Republic of Korea, the educational aspects of the group are just as important as the social opportunities.
“I like to meet new friends from various cultures,” she said. “I’d like to practice my English more and learn not only about Asian cultures but the cultures of other continents, too.”