Keeping the International Community Connected

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Headshot of Susan

Susan Gobbo. Photo by Bryan Schraier

Virtual piano bar happy hours, weekly yoga classes, wine and cheese luncheons, as well as cooking demonstrations are all ways Susan Gobbo, founder and coordinator of the St. Louis International Spouses Meetup Group is sticking to her mission during the COVID-19 pandemic: connecting international women in STL.

Gobbo, a native of Brazil, moved to St. Louis in 2008 and has since founded and coordinated the St. Louis International Spouses Meetup Group (ISG). The group has over 470 women representing 74 countries. Alongside Annie Schlafly, founder at the International Mentoring Program, these groups were created to help talented and highly educated international women feel welcomed and accepted in their new city.

ISG organizes many group meetings throughout the year, but due to COVID-19 precautions, the meetups are now virtual.
“We are trying different activities and times to give an opportunity for everyone to connect and try to feel they are being cared for,” Gobbo said. “We have had a good turn out in our meetings. Some people are more frequent and some more occasionally. But we are receiving good feedback on that.”

A 2020 Women of Achievement Award Honoree, Gobbo said she has faced multiple challenges since moving to the U.S., but is grateful for the relationships she’s gained while developing ISG.

“Winning this award would not have been possible without the support I have received from my family and special people who opened the doors and believed in my mission like Betsy Cohen (and the wonderful STL Mosaic Team) and Annie Schlafly, for whom I have the deepest respect,” Gobbo said.  “Also, I share this award with many amazing women from our International Spouses Group who have been through their struggles and now they are by my side supporting the newcomers of our group. This award reinforces that I’m walking toward the right direction believing that simple acts of kindness, empathy and efforts to help them find their way into our community can make a difference in people’s lives.”

Gobbo believes that St. Louis is more culturally diverse compared to other Midwest cities. She says this is a result from the combined efforts of city development, multinational corporations, and startups.

“We have people from all over the globe who have established (themselves) here and helped us to embroider a more colorful and beautiful (cultural) mosaic,” Gobbo said. “Many jobs have been created as a result of the influential leaders and organizations that are making our city more attractive and welcoming, such as St. Louis Mosaic Project and its collaborators and supporters.”

Gobbo also says the people in St. Louis are easier to connect with than natives from other cities.

“People in St. Louis make the difference from the other cities, Gobbo said. “Here, it’s easy to make connections and to get to know each other. I have met wonderful people who have been so friendly and supportive, some of them became our family in the USA. Also, being raised in a small town in Brazil, I really like the feeling of going out and encountering familiar faces and bumping into someone I know.”
“When we move to a new country, we simply need a friend to understand, support, embrace and welcome us into the community.”
Learn more about ISG or the International Mentoring Program today!