Wednesday 28 November 2012

I remember when I first moved to Gabon, I had heard about this women's group and I thought it sounded lame.  I suppose I was being a bit of a snob and figured that all they probably did was knit and play bridge.  (By the way, there's nothing wrong with knitting or playing bridge but it's just not for me.)  In any case, I had no intention of joining such a group.

About a month later, I had yet to meet a single person.  I had been in contact with another English speaker and after a coffee one morning, she asked if I wanted to tag a long the following week to a sewing morning with the ladies group.  This was exactly what I was afraid of but the idea of getting out of that terrible hotel room beside the stinky zoo for a morning was enough to make me agree.  I don't sew (actually, I still don't) yet I ended up really enjoying myself that morning.  I connected with a few other women, we laughed about our situation, I got answers to all sorts of questions I was trying to figure out and I began to feel like I could actually live in Gabon.  After all, all these other women were doing it too.
Joe and I at the PWC Gala in Port Gentil, 2011

The PWC originally formed as the Petroleum Wive's Club in a variety of locations all over the world in the late 50's early 60's.  It was directed at women who followed their husbands around the oil industry and gave them a community of women to connect to as they settled into new homes.  Most of the PWC groups now welcome any women, oil or not, but their purpose is still the same.

When I arrived in Stavanger, I reached out to the PWC again as it had done me quite well in Port Gentil.  Each group is a little different but they generally have a variety of activities you can choose to take part in.  Movie mornings, book clubs, jewelry making, volunteering, conversations in the local language, crafts, coffees, you name it, they probably have it.  You are never obligated to attend anything but the goal of the club is to help women connect with each other.

The likelihood of me joining such a group in Canada is slim to none but when you're in a brand new country with no friends, one often does things they wouldn't normally do and the PWC has been great at helping me to make a friend or 2.  I was worried about knitting and playing bridge and I did nothing of the sort (instead I played mahjong and went to Wednesday morning sewing) but I know I wouldn't have survived Gabon without the weekly events and the camaraderie.

It's certainly worth looking into should you find yourself in a new place.


  1. you know, I bet a lot of women at these things don't sew or play bridge... but they're looking for friends, too! glad you've started to settle in :)

  2. Such a cool idea (and bravo to you for jumping in, although you had reservations! that's actually a really brave thing to do). I was always curious about how the PWC worked!

  3. That's so great that you have a group of friends to connect with!

  4. Sounds like the perfect group to connect with when you don't know another soul and don't speak the language. Mahjong and sewing don't sound so bad :)

  5. I don't sew or play bridge, but I'd totally be friends with you. I know how to sew, though. :)

  6. So interesting! I think it's a great idea for folks that are new to different areas!


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