Expats make a connection

  • 2004-02-12
  • Elizabeth Celms
RIGA - Afrolat is just one of the many ex-pat clubs that have formed over the past 12 years as foreigners are now making their homes in Riga. While Afrolat members are busy networking with government organizations, most ex-pat groups primarily function on a social level.The Riga Expat Club, for instance, keeps its agenda simple.

For the past 13 years, they have been meeting once a month at various Latvian restaurants for the Riga Expat Dinner. The international club has grown to include more than 50 expats from all over the world, the majority of whom attend the dinner on a regular basis.
"It's like going to your living room and sitting down," said Mike Johnson, a member since 1999. "It's the next closest thing to home, perhaps."
Another international ex-pat organization that contributes significantly to charity in Riga is the International Women's Club. Originally founded in 1995 to help women from foreign countries learn more about Latvia, the organization now boasts 180 members and a variety of activities and fundraisers including spaghetti feeds, international cooking classes, a women's choir and a Riga architecture club.
Although each ex-pat organization in Riga has its original motives and unique personality, Rose-Marie Kjaer, president of the International Women's Club, brings up the underlying value that unifies every ex-pat group.
"One of the most important things when traveling around the world is to find other women in the same position as you," Kjaer said. "You can share your experiences and it's easier for you to live."