by Ewelina Mstowska
For WBFN and its dynamic community, the last four months have been a period of reinvention and adjustment. As a member-driven organization, we have built over the decades, an efficient support system, based on programs and events involving our members and volunteers. On a typical day, the WBFN office in the J building was buzzing! Newcomers joining the Welcoming Information Session, volunteers preparing for social events, or jobseekers attending the Career Lab – we worked and had fun together, sharing experiences and delicious food from around the world, being physically present in the same room. Although we miss the energy and laughter in the office with our members and volunteers, we had to find solutions to stay connected as a community in the new normal.
And we did! From the physical space we knew and enjoyed, we moved to a new virtual one. In the beginning, it would seem a bit awkward and impersonal. But soon, we found our “virtual second home”, a place where we work together, learn new skills, share our joys and sorrows.
Our virtual adventure at WBFN started with Coffee Hangouts. Launched back in March, these informal gatherings focus on bringing together, in a relaxed atmosphere, WBFN members based in DC and worldwide. “You are on mute!!” - was probably the most frequently pronounced sentence back then as we were taming the new beast called WebEx.
Soon followed thematic webinars related to COVID-19, aimed at helping our community deal with this unprecedented situation. In April, the Welcoming Team hosted its first WebEx session, and the Career Lab went virtual on Zoom in May! More recently, our members participated in a Work Authorization seminar.
So, what are your plans for the summer? Do you miss traveling? If so, we are happy to take you on a virtual trip to country office locations. Every Thursday, you have a unique opportunity to discover the everyday life in various countries from a WBFN member’s perspective who is based there. If you have kids, don’t miss out on our new program run by WBFN volunteers in July and August - Fun on screen - dedicated to the youngest. And last but not the least, the Members’ corner is back on Wednesday mornings, so don’t hesitate to join us on WebEx whether you have questions regarding life in the DC area or just want to hang out with other WBFN members.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to join any of our virtual sessions yet, we warmly invite you to do so. Many things have changed, but at WBFN, one thing remains unchanged; we want to ensure that our community receives all the necessary attention and service. We hope that the following testimonials from our members will give you a glimpse into our virtual sessions. See you soon on WebEx!
Steven Patrick Braun, Peru
''Attending the Welcoming Information Session is a must when you arrive in the US. The warm group of people who runs it will help you to know and understand the different steps you have to follow in order to establish yourself complying with laws and regulations, covering aspects as Social Security, Insurances, Driver License, Work Permits and more. They can also help you with almost all the different aspects of this new life, because they have been there. Additionally, they present the newcomers all the alternatives the WBFN offer to its members. It is a trustworthy and reliable group of people who just want to help, and they definitely do so".
Jojo, Metro DC
“The Work Authorization seminar in June was timely since the current pandemic allows all those applying or renewing their EAC to be just at home, which is basically the venue where they will work with these forms and documentations before submission. I found the speaker knowledgeable on the subject and the presentation including the materials given are adequate.“
Amy Sevimli, Kingston, Jamaica
“As soon as the Career lab went 'virtual,' I signed up for the first session, and I'm glad I did. As a decentralized spouse, I had been waiting for the career lab to move online and was thrilled when it did. It's worthwhile for any World Bank spouse, who is trying to pursue a career in a new country or while moving from country to country.”
Federico Hahn, Metro DC
"I found the tools I learned at the first virtual Career Lab very helpful, not only for the job search but also to feel confident and optimistic. The virtual modality was not a barrier, the resources used made the distance invisible and was able to listen to the experiences of ‘friends’ from different parts of the world. Really exciting!!!".