Ten years before Facebook started, and well before WeChat, the International Newcomers’ Network (INN) formed in Beijing 23 years ago in 1994. Originally, the group was founded by a group of expatriates who saw great value in sharing knowledge and tips about living in Beijing. The city was a far different environment back then and discovering other expats or imported goods was an arduous task. Finding international hospitals, paying for utilities, and using public transport were difficult challenges, as services were not geared towards foreigners. After founding the organization expat life in Beijing became manageable for its members.
By pooling resources and sharing information and advice, life in a new, exciting, and challenging city became more fun with the best possible outcome of many deep friendships forged. Now, two decades later, INN is still going strong and has evolved over time by broadening its scope of events and interests. The organization’s diversity keeps growing with many husbands and fathers now very active members and enjoying this time-honored club as well.
Living in the capital in 2016 is far more convenient than it was back then, but there are still numerous challenges especially for newcomers who don’t speak Mandarin or understand doing things the local way. INN offers itself as a support network for expats who want to meet new friends and get involved in a community based organization.
Every month, there are multiple events around the city and all foreign passport holders are welcome to join (only foreign nationals permitted to attend the general monthly gathering due to government regulations). The sustainability of the organization hinges on the goodwill of the wonderful volunteers who contribute their time and expertise to assist new and veteran residents to maximize their benefit of living in the capital. As a result, INN’s events and activities always have a friendly and family feel. INN has no commercial sponsors so everything done is purely for the love of helping other expats.
The INN organizing family has an open door policy and is always looking for people to get involved whether as a volunteer board member, helping to organize and host events, and especially attending and supporting get togethers. For example, Arrival Survival is INN’s annual guide on how to thrive and survive in Beijing and is also the biggest event of the year. Additionally, every month INN holds general gatherings at the Capital Club Athletic Center inside the Capital Mansion compound on Xinyuan Nanlu, near Liangmaqiao. Many attend monthly gatherings, where new and existing members come together as well as a host of INN approved vendors and charities, which support the expat community.
August’s event is always reserved for “Arrival Survival” as many new families relocate to Beijing just in time for the new school year. This year is no different and as every year goes by INN moves in time with the city and offers attendees advice on how to enjoy or cope with life in Beijing.
This year there will be six speakers at the event offering advice on how to live a happy life in Beijing. They draw from their personal experiences and professional backgrounds to offer much needed advice.
INN’s new President, Juli Bradley, who is from the USA, will host the event. With INN under her leadership, we can expect to see the organization continue its high level of support for expats and continue to grow in size as more and more foreign nationals move to China. Other speakers include Averil Harrison-Thuemmel, a member of the INN steering committee and who organizes the monthly Trekkies group, which takes people on tours around some of the lesser-known and more interesting areas in Beijing.
Following Harrison-Thuemmel’s talk will be a chat on how to conquer the Beijing transport network. Then Carnissa Berry, who is a life coach with a great reputation, will talk you through some coping strategies if you are finding the transition and navigating Chinese culture to be sometimes trying. Sherpa’s, a name you will become very familiar with, will introduce how to use their mobile app and get your favorite foods delivered to your apartment. Next will be Kenny, from Fun Guide, who will guide you through how to use his new Beijing based expat APP that includes some of the best places and events to go to. And finally, Beijing United Family Hospital will host a brief talk on staying healthy and medical care for expats.
INN Group Activities
If you are new to the city or have been here for many years, you want to get involved with other expats, meet new friends or just hang out and have some fun while enjoying great food, wine, cocktails or beer, then INN is the right group for you.
- INN General Gathering – Once a month everyone meets up over a coffee and pastries to learn about ways to enjoy life in Beijing and gain a deeper appreciation of Chinese culture with our guest speakers.
- Coffee Mornings – The clue is in the name! There are two meeting ups once a month in down town and Shunyi. The next Coffee Morning is at British School of Beijing, Shunyi on August 25.
- Lunch Bunch – Each month the Lunch Bunch visits a new and exciting restaurant around town.
- Trekkies – A monthly tour of a Beijing hidden gem. The next Trekkie will be a tour of some of Beijing’s various food markets on September 1.
- Beer Night – Aimed at getting more men involved, the next Beer Night is on Thursday 18th August at Jing A, everyone is welcome to join. INN also has various other nights out, social gatherings and, an annual fall social which is one of the most highly anticipated and fun events of the year!
For more information, visit INN’s website where you will find details of all of INN events, INN’s supported charities, and our monthly newsletter. If you wish to receive the INN monthly newsletter please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: Courtesy of INN