The Future of SSS Lies in the Hands of Its Members

As the oldest organization for Scandinavians in Thailand, Scandinavian Society Siam (SSS) has been a central meeting point for Scandinavians for almost a century. It has given its members a chance to meet and get to know other expats as well as exchange information on life in Thailand. It has also provided them with a family away from home. For decades, being a member has been considered a privilege, and the SSS has been a strong and powerful organization. It has played an important part in people’s lives, but recently it has lost its influence.
The older generation of expats in Thailand still considers the organization a legend. However, it seems that this opinion is becoming less and less dominant and the interest for Scandinavian Society Siam is dropping. 
Previously, the SSS was the only way for members to meet and interact, and the eagerness to spend time with other Scandinavians was evident. 
Now, however, the board can hardly get anyone to sign up for the planned events.
 
Great 90 Year Anniversary
In January, the SSS celebrated its 90th anniversary at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Bangkok. Eid Alexandersen and her board had put a lot of time and effort into organizing the party. Their disappointment was enormous when they realized, three weeks before the event, that only 37 people had signed up. 
“We changed a few things and by the day of the party, 170 well-dressed Scandinavians showed up. Thankfully!,” she says. 
The party, which had a 1920’s theme, was a big success. The guests had a great time, and to Eid Alexandersen, it was the highlight of her chairmanship. She was moved to tears when she saw how much effort the guests had put into dressing up. 
“That’s when I felt that all of our hard work had been worth it,” she says. 
But because it is so difficult to get people to respond to the different events, morale among the board members is dropping. The lack of commitment from the rest of the society has a discouraging effect on the board who feels that it is not worth the effort to spend both time and energy on planning events that no one is really interested in.
 
Internet society
The changes that have occurred in society over the past 20 years have also affected the role of the SSS. When it was established, it was meant as an easy way for people with similar backgrounds to meet and interact. The introduction of the internet and the constant development of new technology have made it even easier for people to create as well as maintain networks no matter where in the world they are. 
The people for whom the SSS is still an important part of their lives belong to the older generation, and Eid Alexandersen thinks that the effect of the technical development is more prominent among the younger expats. 
The chairman welcomes modern life and the changes that technology has brought with it, but at the same time she thinks society is taking an unfortunate turn. 
She explains: 
“The internet is something that many people can’t live without. On the other hand, people can live without society. They don’t really feel that they need to be tied together with their own people anymore, but if they do, they can do it from their home.” 
People have so many choices. They are able to interact on several different platforms and Eid Alexandersen thinks that is one of the reasons the SSS is losing ground. 
She adds that the sad thing is that people do not speak to each other anymore, and the result of that will be destruction of the community and the act of being together. The SSS provides a forum for physical interaction, and she hopes that there will still be room for that in the future.
 
Wholehearted commitment
The fact that many of the board members never had a real wish to join the committee does not help the situation either. 
Setting up SSS events and parties is very time consuming. Therefore, it is essential that the people involved in the organization are committed to the work and the task at hand. 
Most of the board members never had a plan to join the committee. People were forced to join the board. When they attended the meetings, they were lured into joining even though they did not have the intention of becoming active board members. 
According to Eid Alexandersen that is the reason the organization is falling apart. 
“They need to want to put all their time and effort into it willingly. ‘Willingly’,” she says, ”that’s the key word.”
 
Keep it alive
The chairman really hopes that the SSS will live to see its 100th anniversary. As chairman of the organization, she has put a lot of time, work, and energy into the organization and she hopes it will not be wasted. 
More than that, though, she really believes in what the SSS stands for. To her, the organization is a legend with a good story and a great cause, and it is important to preserve that. 
For the SSS to live on, she hopes that the members will realize they need to give something back to the society. 
“I wish and hope that some of the Scandinavians here will give their time to save this organization,” she says. 
“That’s what this is all about; giving and taking. The members want to take. They want the opportunity to come to the functions and the parties but they really have to give back if they want this to continue. If they start giving, the SSS could continue for another ten years – maybe longer. If they don’t want to give, it has to die, and that’s hard.” 

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