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left-pagerright-pagerVlamingen in de Wereld
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left-pagerright-pagerSinterklaas feest
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left-pagerright-pagerFishing trip
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left-pagerright-pagerNigel Williams

Flemings in the World, New York Region

by Greet T’Jonck
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Flemings in the world? What is a Fleming? They have an organization here in the Tri-State area? People are commonly puzzled, even amused, when we introduce ourselves and our club, composed of Flemish people.

Having lived in the New York area for 15 years, I am reminded that it is still necessary to promote Flanders and Belgium, and to introduce people to more than chocolate, beer, endives and Brussels sprouts.

Actually, the organization started long ago when Flemings returned from Congo and formed a small association in Mechelen, Belgium. It provided the emigrants with an opportunity for reunion and communal support. Since then, the organization, now known as Vlamingen in the Wereld/ Flemings in the World, has grown steadily. Today, it features 120 branches world wide, an active network of Flemish people dedicated to promoting the rich cultures of Flanders and Belgium, and serving the Flemish community.

VIW serves its community by providing information to expats about education, taxes, social security, retirement, etc. matters when they arrive in the USA. Conversely, VIW Belgium also gives individual support and help to its members when they return to Belgium or emigrate to other countries. They can offer help to students by providing information about internships and by providing appropriate contacts.

Additionally VIW provides information about emigrated Flemings and local organizations through its access to a relevant data base. It acts as a forum for clubs and organizations with an international dimension and provides a contact for those who want to find out more about Flemings for the media. VIW maintains a website (www.viw.be), an electronic newsletter, and magazine as well.

Many Flemish people have migrated to the U.S.A., especially the New York area. It didn’t take long for Flemings in the World to follow them. More than 20 years ago Fleming in the World, New York Region was established for the Tri-State area. Newcomers may find this area lively, but, sometimes, overwhelming, and VIW is responsive to their needs. VIW provides newcomers with information, answers to practical questions, and referral to appropriate organizations. The organization provides contacts with other Flemings who may become friends, with whom they can share experiences, maintain the language, and share business experiences and contacts.
Here are some examples of the activities VIW has organized:

• Cultural Events

Exhibitions, exploring neighborhoods in Manhattan with a guide, visits to NY
Institutions such as The Metropolitan Opera, Museum for Modern Art, etc.

• Belgian Performers

Stand-up comedian Nigel Williams; a play with Jef Demedts, music and laughs with
“ Het Grote Oor”.

• Outdoor Activities

Weekends and sport events with rafting/ biking/ skiing/fishing

• Receptions

• Cantus

Sing-a-longs with Belgian beers provided by our sponsors.

• Children’s’ Events

Saint Nicholas party ( preserving our cultural heritage)

Other examples of past and future events are on our web site: www.viwny.com.

Our member profile is varied. Some have been members for years; others are newcomers. Some live far from New York; others live and work in the city. There are families, older people, singles, and students. We try to offer a wide enough range of activities so that everyone can find something interesting to do while meeting other Flemings. We even have Americans who have become members to help them learn and practice the Flemish language.

Of course, all this would not be possible for us without the support and co-operation of the Belgian Consulate, Flanders House NY , FIT and others. Nine, active board members volunteer their time to organize activities and manage our club. Flemings in the World, New York Region, a not-for-profit organization, is financially 100 % independent. Its operating budget comes from small membership dues and from companies who sponsor some of our events.

Please contact us if you want more information about the organization or about membership. (viwmailings@comcast.net)