When a person comes from abroad, he likely wants to encounter new people in a city he doesn’t know. Galway is a multi-ethnic city and there are many people here for many reasons: study, work, internship, volunteering, etc. So, it may happen that a newcomer here feels the need to establish relationships as soon as possible, to avoid the sense of loneliness.
For this reason there are Couch Surfing International Meetings, events inspired by the app that allow people to host others from abroad, meetings that are concentrated on a simple concept: allow people from abroad to meet. There are even two in Galway. The first is the official because it is arranged by the Irish people. It is the group of Goran Kiesic.
We decided to speak with the two organizers of the second group, namely Cassiany Simões Silva and Ellen Queiroz. They come from Brazil, and we are so curious to find out why they plan these meetings and how it works. This is the interview.
- Can you talk me about C.S. International Meeting? How does it work?
Essentially is just a meeting that any person can organize. It happens around the word many cities and it allow to meet new people of diverse nationalities. So, you can practice languages, talk about travelling, you can learn a lot about other cultures. So, it’s a efficient way to exchange cultures and encounter unknown people. Usually is once a week but never in the same pub. We make this event every Thursday. We decided to change the pubs always to let people explore the city. The main object is “know Galway”. We posted the events on the C.S. International Meeting web site or Facebook. The fundamental reason why they decided to create these events is that we are Brazilians and we felt so alone. We created a first event, not based on Couch Surfing and subsequently decided to visit the Couch Surfing website. It has been a nice experience, so far.You told me there are these meetings in a good number of countries. Do you have an idea where they happen?
- You told me there are these meetings in a good number of countries. Do you have an idea where they happen?
I’m not sure! I joined 2011 and it was already quite famous because it was created a lot of years ago.
- Did you find it in your country? On web?
Yes. We started participating there. We only just started attending the meeting. Also, in Brazil it was every Thursday. It was a great team. Not long ago, there was a time when the group was not that strong, but now they are telling me they are starting to be bigger again.
- Was the first event instantly successful or did the group grow over time?
Eight people attended the first event. Now we are more or less 23 people. In fact, we do not know exactly how many people we are because there is no control in this sense.
- In your personal experience, can you talk about friendships born thanks to this meeting? And, why not, love story?
Yes, because from the moment you are exposing yourself to other cultures and other people there is a great possibility that you make friends or even find love but above all it is very likely that you acquire partners to travel with and other types of these things. And presumably, if you visit another country, where there are people that you met in these meetings, you will visit them.
- Are there difficulties in your meetings? If the answer is yes, what are the main issues?
The primary problem is having space for everyone. If you want to change pubs every week, most of the time you don’t know the pub that will host you. So we don’t know if the pub has enough space. And often we don’t know how many people we are. And every week we have more and more people. If the pub is too small for us, we instantly go to another one, the closest. The identical thing happens if there is enough space at the beginning but more people come then and we are too many for the place. I noticed that another limitation is the language. There is a lot of different kind of English levels. So it’s a little bit tiring include everybody
- Are there cultural difficulties? I mean, there are countries where is normal the physical contact but in other culture is considered rude. So, these meetings put at stake specifically these differences. Now, are there issues about this topic?
Yes, it could happen. It is important not to make others uncomfortable. A noteworthy example is the greeting. You must immediately learn which culture involves bodily contact, and which does not. Respect for other cultures is significant in these encounters. But an unpleasant episode never happened. Sometimes, we try limiting comments about cultural differences, also to prevent that someone can feel offended.
- Are you learning a lot, planning these meetings? Is it a not traditional way to learn?
Yes. We are here to learn English. And the difference between studying the book and this type of learning is that in real life you cannot escape, you cannot avoid confronting your difficulties, your limits.
- Did the people who attended your meeting ever tell you that this experience is opening their mind?
Usually people that take part of our event tell us this. They are so happy!