InterNations Astana ambassador Anara Zhabaginova recently told The Astana Times what InterNations stands for and why it is important to have such organisations in Astana.
“InterNations is an expatriate community for people living and working abroad, but it also welcomes those with a global mindset. Expats in Kazakhstan are welcome to join our network of like-minded people that is characterised by trust and confidence,” Zhabaginova said. “We connect expatriates with their peers in their new country of residence. We are in touch with over 250 local expatriate communities around the world and are uniting members of 180 nationalities who work for international companies, political and non-governmental organisations and diplomatic missions. Through InterNations, expatriates can find advice on the expatriate life as well as support all over the world. Our expat guide and our local forums offer helpful tips on places to see and things that expats should know. Every month, InterNations events take place in numerous communities worldwide, giving expatriates the chance to meet each other in an exclusive and international environment. InterNations provides a unique platform for expatriates to network and interact within a cosmopolitan community geared towards their unique needs.”
“InterNations came to Almaty four-five years ago and it was the first organisation of its type in Kazakhstan. The ambassadors were Natasha Kurkchi and Denis Van Den Weghe. Since then, many things have changed and the organisation has started to explore new cities like Astana and Atyrau. The Astana chapter opened in February 2013,” Zhabaginova said.
How did you become involved in it?
I became involved even before I lived in Almaty. Two years ago, I moved to Astana and met my friend, who was an InterNations ambassador in Almaty. He gave me the idea to be an InterNations ambassador here. Then, I made contact with the head office located in Munich and after a few interviews, they decided to make me an ambassador of the Astana community. I then contacted my friend Alex Carpanini and proposed that he join the ambassador team with me. When he accepted, we started working together.
What is the average attendance per event?
Although we don’t do much advertising while preparing for an event, our events quickly become very anticipated because of the various shows and music performances we put on and the chance to taste different foods and beverages and meet other guests. InterNations’ events in Astana gather about 150-200 professionals once every two weeks and this number increases each month. Participants come from different countries, cultures, ages, business fields and walks of life. Gatherings of that many global minds and the resulting community that is built up must be special for our members.
Who are the attendees in regards to profession and country of origin?
According to official reports dated March 31, 2014, Astana currently hosts 62 embassies and three consulates. We know that InterNations Astana has registered members from around 55 different countries. The average variation in countries represented at each InterNations event is about 25-30.
The list of professions of our attendees shows much more variety and includes ambassadors, lecturers, teachers, company owners, general managers, engineers, lawyers, hoteliers, architects, musicians, etc. We are so happy to see this because the more the variety, the more colourful the gatherings are.
To be honest, one of the biggest issues that we have to deal with is choosing a venue. We organise events twice a month and every time, we have to find different venues in which to gather. There are many criteria, but some of them are more important than others. The venue must be large enough to welcome all of our attendees. Then, service, food and beverages, music and the sound and light system quality are considered. The venue price also must be reasonable because we don’t want our members to face outlandish fees. Most attendees are expats that don’t know the city as well as local people, so transportation is another key criterion. Our members must be able to easily reach the venue. For that reason, pictures and location maps of venues are placed in all of our announcements. Owners of new venues reach out to us about organising events at their facility. We evaluate these requests against our above mentioned criteria, too.
How do people find out about your upcoming events?
Our members register on our website: www.internations.org. Every time we have a new event, we send invitations to their profiles and mailing address.
InterNations Astana offers not only these “Get Togethers,” but also local activity groups, such as City Trotters and those for health, tennis, arts, karaoke, etc. Our members can easily meet with other members who have similar interests or hobbies in these local activity groups. If these groups do not attract people, they can easily create their own local groups.
As InterNations Astana Ambassadors, we wish to expand our community in the name of globalism, peace, friendship and last but not least, fun. We are very grateful for our current globally minded members and the future we will have together with them.