Meet a Member – 8 Questions to Gabriella

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

Our members benefit from our various activities throughout the year like conversation groups, social tours, lunches, monthly meet and greets, or charity work with local organizations.

The Annual General Meeting for IWCR was held in early March to elect the Board for the 2021/2022 season. The Board manages the work of the Club including scheduling the activities and planning for the bazaar which raises funds to support our charities. They spend their energy and time keeping the club running.

We elected these charming and energetic women to be on the Board: 

  1. President: Gabriella Furusjo Temel
  2. Secretary: Marija Krumina
  3. Charity coordinator: Kristina Dalina
  4. Treasurer: Laura Kostomarova
  5. Social and Tours: Vija Pugule

Also, the Advisory members of the board are as follows: Olga Druzhinina, Sophie Griffiths, Elena Tezhe, Andrea Babcanova, and Connie Cortright.

Now we would like to introduce you to Gabriella Furusjo Temel who was elected as president of the Club for the upcoming year.

We are thankful to our lovely member Gabriella. 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?

Gabriella: My mother is Danish and my father is Swedish. I had an expat background from early childhood, as I was born in Sri Lanka, and raised abroad in China, Mexico and the US. I married my husband who is Turkish and works in the airline industry, so I have been privileged to continue the expat experience living and working all over the world and being introduced to new cultures and experiences. I have a son who is 11 years old, and he has already lived in Ireland, Belarus, and Latvia. Currently we have lived in Latvia almost 4 years, and I’ve loved every moment of it.

IWCR: What were your first impressions of Latvia?

Gabriella: I thought the country was absolutely fantastic! I’m a big lover of nature, culture and gourmet food and Latvia provided all these things to me on one plate. I loved the fact that Riga offered so many activities: to go to opera or a music concert, dine out, see a cultural film or visit an art gallery. 

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

Gabriella: Actually Latvia has many similarities to Denmark or Sweden, I wouldn’t say there are huge cultural differences. I can actually read some Latvian, but when people start speaking Latvian, I am completely lost. 

IWCR: What will you miss when you leave Latvia? 

Gabriella: The people I’ve met and friendships that I’ve made. Jurmala has been my go-to spot, I absolutely love that little coastal town, so I’d miss that very much. I also love visiting Cesis and I would miss that. Photography is one of my passions and I’ve been able to photograph so much of the Latvian nature and places to visit.

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

Gabriella: I’ve joined the IWC in both Ireland and Belarus, so the first thing I did when we heard that we would be moving to Latvia, was to join the IWCR. I’ve always found the IWC a wonderful support when you are moving to a new country, and a place to make friends and meet like-minded expats. 

IWCR: What motivates you to be involved in IWCR?

Gabriella: I’ve always been a very active member in the past, and I love the community and goals that the IWC works for as an organization. 

IWCR:  As the new president of IWCR, what goals do you have for the coming year?

Gabriella: Since we have had a very limited year last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions, I’m hoping that this will be the year that we can get out, meet in person and do many activities together as a club! We have so many wonderful projects and traditions in the IWCR, such as social tours, Meet & Greet, charity projects and the annual Christmas bazaar. That is my main goal for the club. I’m hoping that the restrictions will gradually ease and that we will be able to re-introduce some of our usual activities. 

IWCR: Do you have any tips for other expats?

Gabriella: I look at each country I live in as a wonderful adventure, and I try to make the most of it by immersing myself in the cultural experience, food and friendships. I’m naturally very social so this perhaps comes easier for me. But I would say that expats are here for a certain amount of time, so they should embrace the experience of visiting a brand new country and try not to compare it to your native country, as these are not the same things. Also to push yourself to meet other expats and get involved as it’s the best way to make new friends when you are new in town. If you’re flexible, keep an open mind and don’t forget to bring your humour with you, it can make the assignment a wonderful experience. 

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