As every transplant knows, moving to New York City can be tough–moving to New York from another country can be overwhelming. We spoke with Olivier Caudron, Chair of The New York Local Expatriate Spouse Association, an organization created by UN spouses for UN spouses, about how they help international families settle into new lives and careers in NYC.
Q: We have a large international community at Waterside so we’ve seen firsthand the challenges of moving your family to a new country. Can you speak to some of these challenges, and tell us how NYLESA helps UN families settle into New York?
A: One of the first challenges newcomers have is to find an apartment. In New York, this means expect an expensive price, understand the rent policies and often pay broker’s fees. Other challenges are, starting a new life; find new friends, figure out how the city runs, look for a new job. Even if there are many facilities, each step is a new challenge and may be lived stressfully.
To this end NYLESA has created a Welcome Pack, accessible on our website (nylesa.org), with plenty of relevant information and tips. We also organize twice a month gathering events, the Coffee Gathering and the Cocktail Gathering. These events allow UN spouses to meet other UN spouses, to get information and advice, to share concerns and get support.
Q: We here at Waterside remember when your organization was founded! You’ve grown so rapidly in a few years. Can you tell us about some of the milestones NYLESA has achieved?
A: The biggest achievement of NYLESA is having gathered a strong community of members deeply involved, and making the association each day stronger and hopefully recognized by the whole UN System soon.
Another achievement is the involvement of our colleagues inside the UN, our focal points. They are really engaged and do their best to facilitate the recognition of the UN spouses. Another huge achievement is career support. Thanks to the energy of the Career Support Working Group, NYLESA is now able to offer workshops, meetings, networking events, advice and support in career transition.
Q: Tell us about your involvement with NYLESA. As Chair, do you have any particular aims for your organization?
A: I joined NYLESA three years ago. It was still the beginning of the association. After few months, I became coordinator of the Welcome Working Group and then Chair since March 2013. NYLESA helped me and gave me the opportunity to meet people and to feel useful while I was struggling with the creation of my own business.
As Chair, my aims for NYLESA are to encourage members to get involved in the association’s management in order to improve their professional skills; to reinforce contact with other LESAs around the world in order to share ideas and facilitate the relocation; and also, to get the awareness of high positions in the UN about the importance of supporting spouses in settling in and in career transition. The more we will raise awareness about NYLESA, the more we will be able to help other UN Spouses and make the relocation easier for everyone.
Q: Can you tell us how spouses/partners of UN employees at Waterside can get in touch with your organization?
Q: We were happy to learn that our friends on the south end of the Waterside Plaza complex, The British International School of NY, will be hosting an event with you on Tuesday, September 30th. Can you tell us about this event?
A: The British International School generously offered us to set up an Open House, 6-8 PM, to encourage the meeting between our two organizations. The event will start with a reception, and then the presentation of the educational opportunities of the school and possible collaborations. We look forward to many more opportunities to engage with the international community here.
To learn more about the private, independent school for children ages 3-14, The British International School, visit bis-ny.org. To learn more about the international community at residential complex, Waterside Plaza, visit watersideplaza.com.