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IWP 30th Anniversary Speech

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Centro Cultural de Cascais - Fundação Dom Luís I

​International Women of Portugal 30th Anniversary

5 November 2021

Hello everyone / Olá a todos!

It's an honor and pleasure to be with all of you today, both because we're coming out of this long and challenging pandemic AND to be celebrating three decades of this wonderful organization, the one that has brought all of us together over these years.

Much has changed as IWP has grown and evolved throughout these 30 years, but its central mission to make life better for newcomers with a network of kindness and understanding, to find a familiar voice at a coffee or lunch, to share with friends who've experienced that similar upset of letting go of one place in order to settle down in a brand new one—these make IWP truly unique in our lives.

In my years serving on IWP boards I've met those of you who have held positions of leadership while battling difficult personal events, while moving households to a new country, and while undergoing treatment for devastating illnesses. I've met those of you who have guided IWP through highly transitional times, when technological changes have demanded new platforms for communication, from print to internet—like from our beautiful monthly Janelas to email and website—or when Portuguese nonprofit law has required new compliance in our legal and financial regulations.

Most recently, our loss of Maria Barros has reminded us how short and fleeting life can be, but her example shows us how very much one can do to bring about beauty and change—her dedicated work keeping IWP alive throughout pandemic times, improving both our in-person and online identity, and in establishing our wonderful new office space—all of this was truly heroic, inspiring, and unforgettable.

Many other volunteers in our ranks have worked tirelessly to improve IWP with charity work on behalf of local food banks, social supports, and health services. Besides encompassing so many disparate languages and cultures, IWP also spans all ages, from those of us with young children to those engaged in daily professional work, from activities for the very agile and athletic among us to those of us—like me—who don't get around so quickly anymore…

One thing I often thought of as president, when meeting someone new, was how living within multiple cultures gives us the opportunity to see mystery where we lack knowledge. What we don't know gives us space, to allow for someone to teach us something new, something that never occurred to us before within our home cultures. I love that we continually learn from each other here.

Lastly, I'm thrilled to see what Louise Strasenberg and our current executive board have done to keep IWP not only moving forward this year, our 30th, but also in gathering so many new members to us here as well.

So—let's enjoy each other, our celebration tonight, and remember always to give back as much as we take from this beautiful land.

Muito obrigada a todos, beijinhos!

Joia Lewis

Chair, Membership Representation Board

International Women in Portugal

5 November 2021

Centro Cultural de Cascais - Fundação Dom Luís I

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