Skip links

Can Soroptimists strengthen friendships abroad in covid times?

All around the world women are facing challenges because of the covid virus. With many people staying at home and air travel limited, it might seem strange to ask whether Soroptimists can strengthen friendships abroad during covid times. But Soroptimist Calcutta and Soroptimist East London have found a way.

Soroptimists in Calcutta and in east London decided to get the better of the virus and despite the challenges, use this time to strengthen friendships – by having a tea party – online!

 Why did we do it?

Soroptimist Club of Calcutta and Soroptimist East London have been close friends since 2013 when they worked together to help women in Calcutta have access to better sanitation (ie toilets!).   Since then the two clubs have shared a very affectionate bond. But, few club members in either Calcutta or east London had ever met in person or knew each other.

Soroptimist East London and Soroptimist Calcutta virtual tea party 27 June 2020

How did we do it?

On 27 June 2020 members of both Clubs met for a meeting with a twist… a ‘virtual tea party’. Each member was asked to bring a cup of tea and a snack of their choice, to enjoy during the party.

The party started with each member saying her name, the kind of tea she was drinking and the snack she was having. With around 23 women at the party, that took a bit of time! Soroptimists in east London learned that Darjeeling tea is very popular in Calcutta.  While Soroptimists from Calcutta discovered that at least some Soroptimists in east London prefer drinking coffee – even at a tea party!

After the introductions, short opening remarks were made by the Presidents of both Clubs, and each club gave a brief presentation of its activities. The members then enjoyed a short quiz (jointly devised by one member from each club) with questions about ‘tea’ and ‘empowered women from Bengal and east London’.  The quiz was a real challenge to see how much each club knew about amazing women from each other’s areas. East London Soroptimists certainly learned a lot we didn’t know – and left with great respect for the women of Bengal.

What was the Highlight of the Party?

The highlight of the party came when members of each Club divided into small breakout groups. In small groups, members were able to have more extensive conversation – and get to know each other.  Soroptimists exchanged ideas, cultures, challenges and successes. Some breakout groups discussed the impact of the pandemic and the ‘Amphan’ super cyclone that devastated Calcutta and her surrounding areas a little over a month ago. Others discussed life in general, experiences of being a Soroptimist or their shared passion for empowering women and girls.

It was a major ice-breaking session with women in Calcutta and in east London having the opportunity to meet and discuss and get to know Soroptimist sisters thousands of miles away.

What about the future?

Everyone who attended the virtual tea party unanimously agreed that they would love to meet online again.  It was a great way for women in east London and Calcutta to join together for fun, conversation and friendship with purpose.  And it showed that, as the world continues to come to terms with the deadly pandemic, Soroptimists can find new ways to collaborate to empower women and girls.

As the world continues to come to terms with the deadly pandemic, Soroptimists are coming up with new ways to continue to help and empower women and girls.

As for the future ….. when smart and committed women get together, great things can happen … so, watch this space.

So, can Soroptimists strengthen friendships abroad in covid times? Soroptimists in Calcutta and Soroptimists in East London most certainly can!

Interested to learn more?

New members are always welcome to join our friendly club, so, if you’re interested to join, or just find out more please get in touch.

To find out more about what Soroptimist East London, what we do and why, have a look at our activities and check our blog What Does Soroptimist East London Do?

And, to stay up to date with our latest news and events, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook!

If you’d like to know more about Soroptimist International of Calcutta, you can read all about them on their website!

Ayushi Kundu & Nathalia Berkowitz