Meet a Member – 7 questions to Eva

The International Women’s Club of Riga is an international group of women offering friendship and supporting local charities.

One of the most active members of our club is Eva Sesemann. She has been heavily involved in helping many local charities for over 10 years. Also, before the annual Charity Bazaar, she organizes the Handicraft Group.The items made by the women are sold by members of IWCR on a special Handicraft table which is organized by Eva. All proceeds are donated to charities. Eva has been a member of the Executive Board of the Club and is a regular member in the Book Club, which is organized by Connie Cortright and Gabriella Furusjo Temel.

And today we would like to introduce you to Eva Sesemann – one of the longest and most active members of our club.

We are thankful to our lovely member Eva. We talked with her about her experience and being a member of IWCR. 

IWCR: Tell us a little about your background. Where are you from?

Eva: I was born and raised in Sweden by my Norwegian parents and have two elder sisters and one little brother. This is why I am a Norwegian citizen and speak Swedish. My hometown Halmstad is on the west coast of Sweden just between Gothenburg and Malmö. We lived only 100m from the sea. Maybe that is why I have always loved the water and feel very calm when I have water near me.

I met my husband when I was very young, only 19 years old. We got married after 5 years and moved to Stockholm. We had three girls in 6 years. After a few years and some courses, I had my own business which was sewing clothes, tapestry, making curtains and other things for your home or office. I decided I wanted to go to university to become a teacher in textile. I have been sewing, knitting, and fixing things since I was very little so the choice was easy. I had five years of study before I became a teacher in Textile and Social studies(history and Religion as my subjects). I worked as a teacher for 4 years before we moved abroad.

IWCR: What were your first impressions of Latvia?

Eva:   That Jurmala reminded me of my hometown with the beaches and the pine trees next to the beach. Another thing was that it was so clean, but it was hard to talk and get help in stores. Not many spoke English as they do today, and unfortunately, I didn’t and still don’t speak Latvian. My feeling was that they didn’t want to try to understand, but now I think it was more that they were feeling uncomfortable. 

IWCR: What are the two or three biggest differences between your home country and Latvia?

Eva: That is hard to say, it depends of course on what your focus is. One of the things that is very close to my heart, and also what I have been working with the whole time since I came to Riga, is the less fortunate inhabitants. The needs are much bigger in Latvia than in Sweden, but we do have a lot of inhabitants that are poor   

A total difference is when I brought my car to Latvia and wanted it to be registered in Latvia. It took only 1 ½ hours and the car had Latvian registration while in Sweden it takes you 3 months, and you will not be allowed to drive it for two or three weeks.

IWCR: What will you miss when you leave Latvia? 

Eva: My friends,Jurmala, Riga city, all lovely fabric shops, all lovely restaurants, my hairdresser etc. But it will be easy to visit since as far as I know we will be living in Sweden.

IWCR: Eva, you have been an IWCR member for a while. How did you find out about the club, and what we do?

Eva: I got to know about the club when I was living in Tallinn from friends that used to live in Riga. I was involved in the IWCT in Tallinn so it felt natural to join the club in Riga. I had written to the club and on one of my first days, I had lunch with a Swedish lady in Old Town. Another lady came up to me and asked me if I was Eva from Sweden. She was the charity lady in the club, and from that day, I have been working with charity in Latvia.

IWCR: What motivates you to be involved in IWCR?

Eva: The charity first of all, but also meeting so many lovely ladies and doing so many fun and interesting things. Through the IWCR, I have been able to see so many different sides of Latvia and learn new things. We have visited places which I think I would not have been able to see by myself, for example I have been inside the freedom monument. We were at the National Library before it was open and had a guided tour. I also have been visiting the babies at women’s prison several times.

IWCR: Do you have any tips for other expats?

Eva: Enjoy Riga while you are here, it is a lovely place to live. It is easy to get around and lots of nice places to see. I still have a lot of museums to visit as soon as they are open again.  I have so many lovely memories here and am still making new ones. One thing I heard from many people I met during my years here is  that you are not alone. There is always someone that has time for a coffee, walk ,talk etc. I have met so many interesting people and gotten new friends from all around the world which I would not have been able to do if I was not involved in IWCR I am sure.

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