“Global Spouses” make new friends in a new country

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- A local nonprofit helps a special group of newcomers to the U.S. make meaningful connections in the community.

The Global Spouses Circle takes a field trip to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. Outings are one of the ways the group gets together.

Madison International Partners established the Global Spouses Circle, which brings together the partners of international students or visiting scholars.

Jean-Rene Watchou, the executive director of the nonprofit, explained that he has seen many people “struggle with isolation, struggle with the language, struggle with opportunity to make connection with the community because their partner or their spouse is busy with academic work or professional work.”

He added, “Most of the time these fully functional professionals will give up their career to follow their spouse here.”

Elaine Kao was a buyer in Taiwan.

“I had my own job and I (had the) ability to earn money by myself,” she said. “But when I got here, I (didn’t) have any chances to work because I didn’t have the work permit."

She moved because her husband’s company transferred him to Madison.

Liudmila Lambert was a chemist in Cuba. Carolina Figueroa and Pamela Rodriguez were teachers in Chile. These women moved because their husbands are PhD candidates at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kao said she appreciates the group and the friends she made through it. Despite the language barrier, Kao said some other women have helped her through her pregnancy.

“If I have hospital questions or baby questions, I will ask them and they will give me a lot of support,” Kao said.

The group offers a number of programs and activities, including weekly conversations about adjusting to life in the U.S.