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International Day of Friendship

When I think of Soroptimist, I not only think of women inspiring action but also women inspiring love to transform lives around the globe.

And what is serving if not a mix of love and compassion?

It is a beautiful experience to give love and kindness while helping those in need but also it is, to witness those lovely feelings being spread amongst those serving, thus filling them up with a kinder, braver, and gentler spirit to give even more.

When I first joined the Soroptimist sisterhood through SI Newtown, I was utterly nervous – I did not know what to expect because as a foreigner not always one feels welcomed, so I did not know what to expect and how I was going to be treated; many thoughts crossed my mind when I reached that building for my first business meeting: what would it be like? What if they mistreat me? Would I have to leave earlier than expected because of an uncomfortable situation? But, to my surprise, I was warmly greeted by these audacious, loving, and kind-hearted women.

I felt welcomed. I felt comfortable. I felt joyful.

That day, I knew that I had made the right decision to join Soroptimist – little I knew though that later, all the women that are part of Soroptimist, were going to occupy a special place in my heart.

As I started to work on the different projects and spend time with other clubs, I got to know them more, and then I realized how such a wonderful camaraderie was built: the right mix of joyful and challenging times.

Yes, there are times in volunteering when pressure builds up and one may even want to shake each other off but, it is right there – at the peak of tension, that friendship comes to the rescue.

In the end, we all are working towards one common goal: serving, and it is in serving that our hearts are filled with love and compassion – including to those working by our side (even those who drive us nuts sometimes too!)

I grew up with sisters only so Soroptimist is, to me, true sisterhood.

And of course, friendship is also made up of a ton of anecdotes So, I could not write about friendship without sharing a couple with you.

Last year, SI Newtown had its first Live Virtual Science Fair “Satellites for Survival”, so we were super excited to raise awareness of STEM career options for over 400 participants BUT when the event started, we experienced technical difficulties, and everything froze up in what seemed an eternity! All of us were trying to make sure the presentation went on while panic began to build up, and then, the magic happened: friendship. It was the messages of encouragement between each other that gave us the strength to carry on and pull it off as a team – what an unforgettable experience of friendship after a storm!

I had hardly thought of friendship in the context of volunteerism before joining Soroptimist, and even less how it could have served as a window to deepening International Friendships, but now I understand it because I also lived it.

Earlier this year, I got the opportunity to assist with SIGBI for the CSW65 on Combatting trafficking/slavery throughout life’s course using education, awareness, and action, and in doing so, I made friendships with amazing Soroptimists in UK, India, and the Caribbean!

Fantastic team collaboration and organization, despite time differences, to make such an important event an unforgettable success.

Once more, unconditional support, love, and kindness were signalled out from the friendship flag across the globe.

Not only the opportunity to serve was given but also to be served – because friendship is, undoubtedly, a given act of unified love and compassion towards one another.

There are so many avenues to deepening International Friendships and I must say that volunteering is one of them.

Not only, thanks to globalization, collaboration is possible in unimaginable ways between different clubs but also, I know that there are many other foreigners, like me, wanting to give back to the land that welcomed them and became a second home to them. Then, why not through International Friendship at home?

At SI Newtown 50% of the executive team are foreigners, and I must say that the richness of diversity is an invaluable contribution to any organization.

It is unlikely not to create such a beautiful and valuable connection with people looking to give back and deepen relationships in such a generous manner.

Let us continue honouring the name of Soroptimist by being the “best sister” to one another and advancing it, by being the best friend we can possibly be to each other.

Happy Friendship Day 2021!

Corina Hernandez
SI Newtown