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Thank you for your time Haley! Our traditional first question, where in the States are you from?
I’m from a far south west suburb of Chicago in Illinois.
How did you find yourself moving to the UK?
My husband’s employer moved us to the UK June of 2016.
How did you first become involved with the American Women's Club of London?
Shortly after finding out we were moving to the UK, London specifically, I did some research on expat social organisations. The AWC was one that appealed to me the most. I joined as a member 4 months after moving to London. I instantly felt at home. I was able to be excited at the many opportunities being an expat brought while also not feeling guilty about the occasional homesickness and frustration that comes with being a foreigner. In April of 2016 I joined the board of directors as the director of activities and helped plan annual activities like the Buckingham Palace tour, Royal Ascot, and our activity fair among a host of other offerings. Unfortunately, our current president was unexpectedly called back to the US and I was asked to step in as the club’s president.
What does the AWC of London aim to do for Americans over here?
The AWC offers a way for expats to connect with each other while doing social activities. Members can find a sympathetic ear when the isolation of expat life gets overwhelming. We offer a variety of activities so you never have to explore London alone. Our members have a wealth of knowledge that they are always willing to share regardless if it’s navigating the NHS, finding a great pizza, or the best 3 day holiday spots, our members can offer first hand knowledge.
You're hosting this year's FAWCO Day Conference - how did that come about?
I attended the FAWCO conference in Scotland recently. It’s quite a sight to see, 5 days of globally minded women from all over the world coming together to raise awareness of social issues, support various initiatives and raise funds for educational grants and more. It’s hard not to get excited about all FAWCO has to offer so when there was talk of the region 1 meeting I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for the AWC of London to host it.
What will the day involve?
We have guest speakers from FAWCO ready to talk about grants available to members, their charitable focus for the up coming year, their involvement with the UN and other member benefits. We also have Bettie Hungerford, an American living in London who has carved out a career using social media and Michelle Feeney, founder of Floral Street, a brand new fragrance concept. Both women are uniquely qualified to talk about finding their inner superpower and finding their second act.
What do you hope attendees to this year's conference take away from the Conference?
The Conference is all about inspiring attendees to look beyond the now. Many trailing expats give up a successful career to move overseas and find themselves asking ‘what now?' or 'what next?’ My hope is that the conference will help us all realise our potential and that it is always a good time to change directions.
What's been your best daytrip in the UK so far that you'd recommend to fellow Americans?
My family took a day trip to Dover Castle during their WW2 re-enactment days. My kids are 12 and 10, it can be difficult to find something that holds their attention that doesn’t involve their phone or video games but this day trip was so enjoyable for all of us. There was loads of information, interactive tours, re-enactments, participants in full period uniform and so much more. It was a simple train ride from London but so worth it.
What do you most miss about the States, and what do you least miss?
It would be silly of me to say I miss Target but I do. I miss knowing where everything is and what stores have exactly what I need and of course I miss my family most of all. I don’t miss the gun culture of the United States, I don’t miss my kids having to do active shooter drills in school and I don’t miss the healthcare system.
Finally, what's the best thing about being an American in the UK?
I find the history here fascinating. There is so much of it and it goes back so far that there is always something to learn. I get a feeling of awe and wonder when I walk down streets that are older than my country. It really makes you understand just how young America is.
Check out how to join Haley and fellow members of the American Women's Club of London by going to www.awclondon.org, and for details on the FAWCO Region 1 Conference in London from September 20 to 22, go to www.awclondon.org/FAWCO-Region-1-Day-Meeting