Community

Expat Organisations in Malaysia

Many expats choose to join their country’s association when they move to Malaysia, and it can be a great way to make some friends and learn more about your new home, plus their are always great activities to get involved in. Sarah Rees tracks down the kindly faces behind the organisation to find out more about them and their efforts.

Scandinavian Society of Malaysia

Name: Tommy Lagerhjelm
Role: Honorary President
Joined: 2011
Arrived in Malaysia: 2005 (for work)
Likes: the climate, all the nice people
Dislikes: being ripped off by taxis, intolerant and selfish drivers

Why did you get involved?

It was a way to get to know new people and make new friends as I did not know anyone in KL then.

What sort of things does your association organize?

We have coffee mornings every month at which all members, as well as newcomers, are welcome. We arrange pub nights every month. We also have golfers who meet up once a month to play golf, normally in a new location each time so we have a chance to try a lot of different courses in the region. We have an annual Crayfish Party in September and a Family Christmas Party in December with the children. Besides that, we do trips or events when we find something that a number of members are interested to participate in or experience, or just take a day trip together to a new place not too far away.

Who, is membership available to?

People that are Scandinavians, married to Scandinavians, or in any other way have strong ties to Scandinavia.

Why is it important to have associations for expats?

It is a way for newcomers to get a social network in a new country, and get to know people that have been here for a while so that you have someone that you can answer your questions, because everything is new and different from where people were living before. To be able to talk to people with the same background helps a lot as well, and being able to do that in the mother language makes everything easier.

Promoted

What memory will you always treasure from your time working with the association?

I will treasure all the very nice and friendly people I have met, and the new friends that I have made through the association.

www.scandinaviansocietymalaysia.com

Canadian Association of Malaysia

Name: R. J. (Boo) Boocock
Role: President
Joined: 2010
Arrived in Malaysia: 2010
Likes: Friendly, courteous, fun-loving people
Dislikes: Discourteous, unfriendly people

What brought you to Malaysia?

I was homeless and needed to find a nice place for my family to live

Why did you get involved?

Because I was asked to and obliged.

What sort of things does your association organize?

We organize Canada Rock in April, a Thanksgiving Ball in October, and various activities including cookery classes, adventure outings, and coffee mornings.

Promoted

Who is membership available to?

Canadian citizens, a non-Canadian working for a Canadian company in Malaysia, or a non-Canadian accepted by the Executive Committee (under special circumstances).

Why is it important to have associations for expats?

This place is large with many places to go for entertainment and dining but it is still rather cliquey. So there needs to be a landing zone, i.e., a place where new folks can come and meet folks of like backgrounds who can help them with the transition necessary to undertake whenever leaving your home comfort zone (family & friends, customs, traditions, etc.)

What memory will you always treasure from your time working with the association?

The wonderful support we have had for local charities.

www.canadians-in-kl.com

Latin American Ladies Association

Name: Yolanda Velasquez
Role: Former President and Welcome Committee Coordinator 2012
Joined: 2008
Arrived in Malaysia: 2008
Likes: Painting, reading, playing sports, travelling

What brought you to Malaysia?

We came for my husband’s job in Oil and Gas.

Why did you get involved?

At the beginning it was a social opportunity, but as I got more involved, it grew into a chance to help the community through the Association’s name.

What sort of things does your association organize?

We have a monthly coffee or lunch, our cooking class, the book club and the Cine Club, all of which are in Spanish. We organise a group to practice Spanish and also a Literary Night. We host our annual Charity Ball at the end of the year, a spring party, and we also help with the Latin American Festival (May). All our activities are a vehicle for supporting local charities and the big events are open to the general public.

Who is membership available to?

We welcome anybody who speaks Spanish and would like to support our group and our activities.

Why is it important to have associations for expats?

Moving to a new place is always a challenge, and having a network of people that live there and are happy and well-adjusted makes the whole process easier. Eventually, you have the chance to make yourself useful and fill your days with meaningful activities, either for the newcomers or for the people in your host country.

What memory will you always treasure from your time working with the association?

Being part of the group has been an opportunity to grow in many ways. I have learned about our own cultural differences and expectations within the Latin Community and had the chance to interact and help with members of the local community. Our Association didn’t have a tradition of hosting a Charity Ball, so being able to organise it and be a part of its RM90,000 charity donation was a great experience. My experiences have changed my perspective of charity work and made me realise how responsible we are for giving back to the community that has welcomed us to their country.

www.damaslatinas.com.my

Japanese Ladies Association

Name: Emi Morita
Role: Vice President (responsible for volunteer activities)
Joined: 2011
Arrived in Malaysia: 2011
Likes: golf, tennis, meeting new people
Dislikes: giving up on something

What brought you to Malaysia?

I’ve been here one year and eight months now, and came because my husband was sent to work here.

Why did you get involved?

I was asked to take the role by one of my friends here who had been working for our association. This is not work and people are delighted to accept a role like this because it requires time and dedication, but someone has to do it!

What sort of things does your association organize?

The main event is our annual charity bazaar. We visit many Malaysian charitable institutions to see which ones need our donation and how they have spent our donation from the previous year. Then we raise some money through our charity bazaar to donate them. We make a large effort and we are very glad to donate to more than 20 institutions every year.

Who is membership available to?

All Japanese who stay in Malaysia and also anybody who is interested in Japan or our activities, such as Japanese lessons.

Why is it important to have associations for expats?

Some people find it very difficult to get used to local life and might be lost. If you have somebody to talk and ask in your language and get some information, it is much easier.

What memory will you always treasure from your time working with the association?

Last month we had a donation ceremony and all the representatives of the charitable institutions came and were very glad to receive the cheques. It was then that we felt our efforts had been rewarded.

www.jckl.org.my

Association of British Women in Malaysia

Name: Sally Addington
Role in the association: Chairman
Joined: 1992
Likes: My family, true friends, good health, animals, Asia, cooking, music, sunny days, great food, books and movies.
Dislikes: Rudeness, deceit, illness, seeing poverty, traffic jams, people who complain but are unwilling to step up and do anything about it.

Why did you get involved with the association?

For support, to have some fun and make new friends when I arrived with two small sons, knowing no one.

How long have you been in Malaysia and what brought you here?

More than 21 years. We moved from Bangkok so my husband could start a company in KL.

Why is it important to have associations for expats?

When you move to a new place it is like having the rug pulled out from under your feet, and all the structure in your life is gone. Associations like the ABWM offer a micro-community with lots of support, activities, socialising, advice and fun, of course!

What sort of things does your association organize?

A monthly glossy magazine and a weekly email newsletter with lots of information.

We also organise social events such as weekly coffee mornings with interesting presentations and talks, monthly lunches, evening get-togethers with partners, sport (tennis, golf, netball, Pilates, Yoga, etc.), games (Mahjong, Bridge, etc.), cultural trips, and an opportunity to do fundraising or volunteering at local charities.

Who is membership available to?

Anyone with a connection to or affiliation with the UK. Those who enjoy British pastimes and all the other activities available to members.

What memory will you always treasure from your time working with the association?

All the wonderful people I’ve met and worked with – I’ve been truly blessed.

www.abwm.com.my

Association Francophone de Malaisie

Name: Valérie Rouat
Role: Présidente (from June 2012)
Joined: 2011
Arrived in Malaysia: 2010
Likes: communicating with people, working for others with a dynamic team, and making others happy. Taking care of my family: my two sons and my husband.
Dislikes: Being inactive, conflicts (I am always looking for solutions).

What brought you to Malaysia?

I have been in Malaysia for two and an half years and came here to be with my husband, who has a job here.

Why did you get involved?

I got involved with AFM because I needed to do something! I stopped working when we left France in August 2010. During the first year, I discovered Kuala Lumpur and made new friends through the association. I joined as a member of the AFM end of 2010. When Nadine Henry, the previous president, sought new people to help, I felt it was my turn to invest in others and give to the association what I received on arrival. I take great pleasure in giving others a little of my time and my energy; it is a real gift.

What sort of things does your association organize?

AFM organizes various activities in the club such as walks in the jungle, a baby mama club, water aerobics, zumba, and yoga.

We occasionally hold workshops and/or outings: cooking classes, learning Chinese knots, and visiting areas of the country. There is a monthly coffee meeting, and we regularly organize dinners for the members.

We also have a newspaper “La Gazette” which is published four times a year, and a club called Coup de Pouce (Helping Hand) which supports some local charities.

Who is membership available to?

To be a member, you must be French or French-speaking. You have to love the French language and culture: the art de vivre.

Why is it important to have associations for expats?

It allows people to find friends of the same culture and education, to help each other, and not to be alone in a foreign country. Members serve as a guide for newcomers by introducing them to the city, the country, and the habits. Associations are like a second family for newcomers, it is a refuge.

What memory will you always treasure from your time working with the association?

My best memory is seeing people happy and active. The moment that comes to mind is the last Christmas party, and the wonder on the children’s faces when Santa Claus arrived.

Despite the lack of snow, I think the team of the AFM was able to offer a moment of happiness to the children, and I was proud to participate at the event.

www.afmkuala.com

Source: The Expat April 2013

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