International Friends of The Woodlands celebrates 35 years of cultural exposition
For three-and-a-half decades, International Friends of The Woodlands has brought people together from all corners of the world. The club celebrated its 35th birthday with friends, stories and cake Friday, Sept. 7, at its first monthly meeting of the 2018-2019 season.
“Really one thing you find out (in the group) is how similar everybody is,” said club President Robert Wasmund. “You’re not politically discussing things, you’re just meeting people as people.”
Now home to almost 100 members composed of 41 different nationalities, International Friends of The Woodlands started with only a half dozen new residents in 1983.
“It started with a group of people who had just come to the country, and they got together because the culture was all new to them,” Wasmund said.
The group then, as it does now, meet at Saints Simon and Jude Catholic Parish every month.
Adele Yung, the club’s publicity chairperson, said as The Woodlands continues to grow and diversity continues to increase, the club is welcoming in not just oil and gas and petrochemical executives, but any resident — American or otherwise — with a passion for all things cultural.
“So many people have lived abroad or have traveled, and it’s a chance to meet other people,” Yung said.
International Friends, Yung said, is as much about exposing new residents to the features and cultures of The Woodlands as it is about multiculturalism. The group takes monthly field trips to places of worship, museums and local landmarks both in The Woodlands and Houston on a regular basis, as well as hosting a weekly movie trip for members.
“It’s really just friends doing things and going places together,” Yung said. “It’s just been a delightful group and a way to meet so many people from so many places that have come here.”
Each month’s meeting is centered around presenting a different theme — stories and legends, tales from serving in the diplomatic corps, Chinese medicine, a session with The Woodlands Board of Directors Vice Chairman John McMullan on the ins and outs on Township governance — that serves to expand the members’ knowledge.
“This is a group for people who are interested in learning and exchanging information and fellowship between different cultures,” Wasmund said.
The Sept. 7 meeting served as much an introduction to the club’s new season of activities as it did as a birthday celebration.
The club meets monthly from September to May, Wasmund said, because so many members travel home and on vacation during the summer. But despite the physical distance that grows when a member leaves The Woodlands to go home, the friendships carry on.
As the club moves forward to its 40th anniversary and beyond, International Friends is looking to grow — several members of the club’s board are working on an online strategy to expand the group’s social media presence.
“This is where you can find people with open minds from all over the world,” said club Board Member Shailja Kumar.