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Annual Reports


February "Love Songs from Around the World" IN Day


Each of us have contact with other members through our group(s) meetings and events where we get to know people and forge friendships. But have you ever thought about all the other groups and all the other members you are not acquainted with? And what about all the work that is being done "behind the curtains"? Here we give you an overview of what happened this year in International Neighbors - each area sent us a report of what they accomplished this year.


Conversation Groups

Conversation groups meet weekly to practice English, make friends, and learn about the

Ann Arbor community. They usually meet in a rental space but also take field trips to

local places like the botanical garden, the Farmer’s Market, the Ann Arbor District

Library, or restaurants for socializing. Because of the pandemic, some meetings were

on Zoom.

During the pandemic years, fewer new members joined, but the groups were a life line

of friendship and continued to meet on Zoom throughout the year. In fact, some

conversation groups have members who continue to participate even though they are

back in their own countries. At present, three of the five conversation groups are still

meeting on Zoom, while two groups meet in person.

A summer conversation group will meet in a park with babysitters so that children can

be included. Some of the groups might meet through the summer also.


Cultural Encounters Group

Meeting monthly on Fridays from 12 to 2 p.m., the cultural encounters group continues

to learn about what makes countries unique. The group has welcomed the opportunity

to get outdoors more often after the pandemic years. Many more members have joined,

and the group has been meeting monthly at different ethnic restaurants for cultural

encounter lunches. The members share information about their country’s famous

landmarks while enjoying a nice meal. With 26 members from 10 countries, the group

has enjoyed presentations on Croatia, India, Japan, Jordan, and South Korea.


Discussion Groups

Discussion groups in 2022-2023 have gradually settled down to something resembling

normal again. One language group just resumed meeting this fall after a previous hiatus

due to their members’ strong dislike of meeting on Zoom. Other groups have

continued meeting in homes and also occasionally in restaurants or cafes. In total, there

are two topic groups, two film groups, and four language groups currently meeting.

There have been a few noticeable changes since pre-pandemic group meetings. In

general, group leaders have faced more challenges in scheduling their groups to meet

their members’ changing schedules this year. One language group adapted by trying to

meet at one time and location on their first meeting of the month, and at another time

and place on their second meeting. Some groups have also struggled to find members

willing to take turns hosting group meetings.

Despite these few challenges, groups have continued to enjoy their time together. In the

last year, women from many different countries have joined discussion groups, including

those from Bulgaria, Costa Rica, India, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Peru, Taiwan, Turkey,

and the US.

A few changes in groups and leadership have taken place this year. The new “What’s

Happening?” group, which just began meeting in the fall of 2022, has done very well.

Meeting twice a month at a cafe, they have up to ten members, who have quickly

formed a close bond and who often stay beyond the allotted meeting time.

The leader of the Friday afternoon film group for many years is stepping down at the end of June. A new leader is needed.



Reading group on Zoom

Reading Groups

Five reading groups started at the beginning of this year, in September 2022: two

advanced reading groups, a high-intermediate group, an intermediate group, and a

beginning group, which was discontinued in the late fall.

All groups this year had between four and twelve members, who attended fairly

regularly. A few new members joined this year....perhaps four or five. Many meetings

were on Zoom, although two met outside in person when the weather was comfortable,

at member's homes, or at various libraries. Meeting on Zoom was often a benefit, since

a few of the members lived out of town or outside the US. Zoom helped groups to

reconnect with previous members who had moved away from the Ann Arbor/Michigan

area.


A reading group leaders' meeting was held on Zoom on May 31, 2022 to discuss

summer and fall plans; a second meeting is planned for spring 2023.


Special Interests

Special interests groups of IN include the following: food, excursions, arts and crafts,

and exercise/fitness.

During the year, three different food groups were active: Adventures in Baking,

International Cooking, and Vegetarian Cooking. The excursions group included

Chat and Chew ( dinner and conversation) and Fun and Games. Arts and Crafts

comprised Knitting and Let’s Make Music. The exercise/fitness group included

Hiking on Monday Morning, Thursday Stroller Friendly Hiking, and Thursday Afternoon

Fitness.

The 2022-2023 season has seen some improvement in attendance. All groups are

meeting in person again. The arts and crafts and excursion groups have seen a

resurgence in membership. The hiking groups are hoping for increased attendance

once the weather improves.The special interests groups continued to manage new

requests promptly.


Tea Groups

Tea group leaders have been successful in keeping together their key group of

hostesses despite years of the pandemic. Each group is determining the best time to

return to meeting in different hostesses’ houses. Meetings in restaurants, farms, and

even the Van Gogh exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts have felt more comfortable for

the tea groups. Including the Founding Mothers in the meetings has been a priority,

while the addition of new guests has been purposely smaller.


February "Love Songs from Around the World" IN Day


International Neighbors Day

The IN Day group planned monthly events for the membership at large:

● the Halloween event in October:

● the Thanksgiving feast in November;

● the cookie exchange in December;

● the craft event in January;

● love songs around the world in February;

● zumba exercise in March;

● and the garage sale/exchange in April.


The group added seven members during the reporting period, from India, Japan,

Singapore and the US.


Newsletter Report

It takes a small village to create the newsletter.This year, the International Neighbors

Newsletter underwent a major change when IN debuted the new website. The

newsletter group had a short time to get acquainted with the new website, but

succeeded in delivering news every month. During the 2022/2023 season, the IN

Newsletter published more than 50 articles inviting the membership to IN events,

guiding them through IN changes, and informing them about subjects of interest in the

area and in their daily lives. This was achieved thanks to the work of the creative writers

in the newsletter group, other equally talented contributing writers, two co-editors and a

webmaster.


Secretary’s Report

The secretary attended all board meetings except October, when an alternate kindly

recorded the minutes. Board meetings were initially held in person with the option to join

via Zoom and then moved to virtual in December. Copies of the corrected minutes of

the monthly board meetings, including board members’ monthly reports, were shared

via Google Drive with the board and emeritus members before the next monthly

meeting.

The secretary maintained a file of International Neighbors materials to be deposited in

the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. Board minutes from 2022-23

and minutes of the annual meeting will also be deposited with the Library. The

secretary ensured that the new website had been electronically captured by the Bentley

Library and clarified who has access to International Neighbors records. They are

available to any member of the public who registers as a researcher at the Bentley

Library.


Volunteer Coordinator

All of the open board positions have been filled at this time. New Executive Board

positions are as follows:


● Veronica H. will take on the role of president, following the retirement of

Andra B.F. after five years of service as IN president.

● Treasurer Stephanie B. will become the new vice president of IN, filling the

year-long vacant position.

● Adriana R. has accepted the position of treasurer.

● Maja I.R. will be the new ambassador coordinator, a non-executive

board position.


The Volunteer Coordinator (VC) sent welcome emails to new members of IN shortly

after they registered on the website, inviting the new members to attend IN Day and

forwarding the most recent newsletter. As the ambassador coordinator was frequently

traveling, the VC stood in for her at different times throughout the year. Unlike in the

past, due to the lingering pandemic, no in-person new member get-togethers were

possible, but these will resume whenever the situation permits.


September Open House in Gallup Park

Membership

Before the fall mailing, member lists were updated, and 987 annual letters were mailed

out at the end of August 2022 to the updated database. Of those, 97 were completed

and returned, most of which contained donations. As many as 158 mailings were

returned, and those members were deleted from the database. The completed

numbers are down again this year (by several percent), while the undeliverables are up

compared to last year. IN has a very loyal and generous donor base, with the majority of

donations generated through the fall mailing. With the addition of our donation tab on

the website, IN did receive one donation via this method.

However, tracking membership remains a challenge that requires ongoing effort.

IN has members that are either Newcomers or Neighbors. Newcomers are women from

other countries who are new to this area. Neighbors are women who have lived in the

United States and are familiar with the Ann Arbor area. They can take an active role in

the organization by befriending newcomers, helping lead programs or by serving

on the Executive Board.

Since August 2022, 64 new members have joined. According to the lists from July

2022, IN currently has 344 Newcomers (from 15 countries) and 987 Neighbors for a

total of 1,331 members from 86 countries. In IN’s 27 groups, 327 women are active or

signed up for groups/activities, while 227 attended the seven International Days.

Approximately 37% of the members participated this past year, a number of whom

engaged in one or more groups/activities. In total, 554 women participated in those

groups/activities.


Treasurer’s Report

As noted above, the vast majority of funding for IN is provided by members’ donations,

solicited through the fall mailing of members in the database. Although IN maintained a

solid financial footing during FY 2022/2023, thanks to bank reserves, donations as of

early May 2023 were more than 50% lower than the previous fiscal year. Most

expenditures during the current fiscal year were for relatively fixed costs, including

church rent, mailing and printing, insurance, IN Day expenses, and the website. By

contrast, expenditures supporting group activities were very limited. Going forward, the

organization needs to examine both how to increase funding and curtail any fixed costs

where possible.

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