The International Women’s Club of Kosovo was founded in 2004 to help expatriate women who are living in Pristina. The group holds regular weekly events and also organizes many special events and outings. Earlier this week, I went with two other US spouses to the coffee gathering, and I’m so glad I did!
The group meets at the same restaurant every Tuesday – so no matter what, you’ll find them there. They explained one reason for this is if a member leaves Kosovo for a while, or is out of the loop, they’ll always know how to reconnect with the group by this standing coffee date (Coke Zero for me. :)). I met other women from the US, and people from Austria, Ireland, Canada, and France. I signed up to be a member and I am looking forward to getting to know them more, and to having another great resource if I have questions while we’re living here. One male spouse from our Embassy has been a part of the group for almost a year now. They actually changed their rules to allow him to join, which I think is pretty cool.
The IWC also hosts a weekly French conversation hour. I so wish I had continued studying French (apologies, Madame Miller) throughout college and even after, but I decided to change course and learn Russian. Which I’ve also since forgotten. Oops.
There was a bit of culture shock for me while we sat outside at the cafe. I have seen young children walking around with signs and begging, but typically, if they come close to me it’s only for a moment and then they move on to someone else. But sitting outside, I was really surprised by how aggressive and persistent the children were. They will actually come up to your table, touch you, try to hug and hold you, all the while pleading for money. One little boy had tears in his eyes the whole time. The other women explained that unfortunately, any money you give the children goes straight to a an adult who is making them beg on the streets, and the children are forced to do this daily. One person advised that if you want to help a child, to buy them an ice cream cone or something they can have right there, because otherwise any money you provide will just go up the chain and continue the begging cycle. Still, it was hard to watch and not something I’m used to seeing.