Scandinavian Society Siam (SSS) is in competition with many other organisations. When it was established, it was the only organisation available. But since the eighties and increasingly during the last ten years several alternatives to the SSS have sprung up. And their activities have intensified.
The chambers of commerce are for instance very active in organizing events as for example their monthly networking, and that's all good to the new SSS Chairman, except that he finds it a bit too business orientated.
“We – Scandinavian Society – should organize some more informal events for the whole family. For example a Sunday brunch,” he says. And the first SSS Sunday Brunch is actually already planned on the 25th of July at the British Club.
The SSS Sunday Brunch is meant to be a social and family event, a place where Scandinavian expat families and singles alike can meet others like themselves.
“Many expat families often go to a hotel or resort on Sundays anyway, we just want to do it together. Otherwise you can easily feel a bit alone. This is an opportunity to meet someone like yourself,” Søren says.
Keeping the traditions
While new activities are important, traditional SSS activities such as the Annual Ball and the Crayfish Party will continue, promises the new Chairman. These events are the highlight of the year for some expats, especially the elderly who have lived abroad for decades.
So the first objective for Søren and his new board has been to set dates for the big annual events. Crayfish Party will be on 2 October. The Christmas Bazaar will be on 28 November. The Garden Party will be on 22 January. The Annual Ball will be on 26 March.
Keeping traditions, however, doesn't mean an event cannot develop. This year, for instance, the Crayfish Party will be more Scandinavian and more like the German tradition of Oktoberfest. It will be held at the garden of the British Club and the guests will be seated along long tables.
The new activities will focus on the families. The coming Sunday brunch will be made into a permanent feature and the British Club is the perfect setting for this event. A place where the children can play and jump into the swimming pool while the parents talk. Maybe business but not necessarily.
Søren Wettendorff emphasizes that he and his board are open to new proposals and ideas for SSS events.
“We are very open to proposals. We hope and expect to get proposals from the members,” he says.
The idea is that the members themselves can organize events and then the SSS could support with their knowledge and organisation.
Søren has a couple of ideas of his own. A visit to a winery in Khao Yai and a riverboat trip are just two of them. He will also start working on membership discounts to for example family fun parks like Dreamworld.
Profit from each other
Another important thing to the new chairman is that the Scandinavian expat community supports itself:
“When we have Danish General Manager at the British Club, a Swedish at Rembrandt, and another Dane at Grand Millennium, it is obvious that our events should be held at places like this,” says Søren Wettendorff.
Coordination for everyone
Søren thinks the SSS should do more to integrate organisations like The Viking Wheelers, SWEA, and Danish Women's Network into the Scandinavian Society Siam.
“A group like Viking Wheelers should in my view be a part of SSS. Just like we have a very successful golf section,” he says.
And it is a big joy for Søren that the leader of the golf section is also member of his board, as the activities of the members is a very essential part of the organisation to him.
“The many special interest organisations should keep doing what they do best, and that is organizing their own events. SSS could help coordinate the events so both Mum and Dad could have a good day,” he says.
The coordination job is about planning. Events should according to Søren Wettendorff be planned to the biggest joy for everyone.
“Dad could for example go bicycling with his guys, while Mum meets for a chat or shopping with her friends and their children, and then everyone could meet up for a big dinner at night. That could make everyone do more of what they like,” Søren says adding how he can feel a bit uncomfortable as the only man around when his wife meets up with her gossip-girls.
The idea to combine the activities in this way, Søren got from his father, who was once on a tour to China where all the men went bicycling on the Great Wall, while the ladies went on sightseeing, and then everyone met for a common dinner at night. According to Søren, a great day for everyone.
Old organisation with potential
The SSS had the 90 year celebration this year and in the old days more than 100 people showed up at the annual general meeting. But last year only around 16 and this year 35 people showed up. The importance of the SSS has faded away.
Meanwhile the potential of Scandinavian Society Siam stays. Nowadays around 1000 Danes, and even more Swedes, Norwegians and Finns are living in Bangkok according to Søren Wettendorff.
He admits that he himself for several years abandoned the Scandinavian community.
“I had jobs at local companies and I really didn't care,” he says and continues:
“But then the former chairmen of SSS Eid Alexandersen and Gregers Møller encouraged me to become the new chairman. And then I saw the possibility to change things the way I wanted them.”
So now the former critic and drop-out Søren Wettendorff is taking the lead and he knows that is has a responsibility:
“It is fine to criticise and yell a bit, but if you get the possibility to change things, you should do it. And that is what I am going to,” he says.
Søren Wettendorrf has lived 18 years in Bangkok. He came in 1992 and is married Thai and the father of three children.
He started working as area manager at Albatros Travel which started with having 80 guests to Thailand a year. When he left they had 4000 guests a year:
“I must have done something right,” he says laughing with a proud smile.
After working at Albatros Travel he was Sales Director at three more unknown travel companies. And the last two years he has worked as sales director at Asian Oasis, a travel company that specialises in stays at community based lodges and tours on traditional teak boats.
Asian Oasis is a traditional private company which cooperate with the communities and in that way support them, a focus area in travel businesses these years:
“A very popular term for the moment is CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility, and that is also very important for us,” says Sales Director Søren Wettendorff.
Søren's job is to sell Asian Oasis' own developed tours to local agents, who again sells them to foreign travel companies as for example the Danish Nyhavn Rejser. The main markets for Asian Oasis is the French, German and English but right now they are negotiating with Danish Bravo Tours.
|Coming Scandinavian Society Siam events|
|Sunday Brunch||25th July|
|Crayfish Party||2nd October|
|Christmas Bazaar||28th November|
|Garden Party||22nd January|
|Annual Gala Ball||26th March|