There are various local events held throughout the year but the annual AFWJ conventions is our biggest event and one that many members look forward to all year. If you look around the AFWJ website, you will find a section all about conventions. In this section you can read about how AFWJ conventions are held over a weekend once a year and include a dinner, cabaret, workshops and panel discussions. This year’s convention was held from September 6th to the 8th in Tokyo and had the added bonus of including our 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner at the Tokyo American Club, the same venue that hosted the very first AFWJ meeting. There is also a list of where conventions were held over the last several years. Our convention webpage has all the basic information about conventions, but it really doesn’t convey how amazing our conventions really are! Fresh on the heels of our 2019 and brimming with compliments for the convention committee and stories of what a wonderful time everyone had, it is a great time to take a closer look at AFWJ conventions.
Who Can Attend?
Conventions are only open to AFWJ members. They are a place where everyone can come together, relish in our shared experiences, offer advice, commiseration, a shoulder to cry on, and a group to laugh with. It is a great place to take a break from being a foreigner for a weekend. They are a place where members can really let their guard down as they know they are among friends.
When are the Conventions?
They are held on one weekend every year, from a Friday afternoon until the following Sunday afternoon. There are no set dates or specific months in which conventions are held, it is entirely up to the convention committee each year to decide.
What Happens at a Convention?
What happens at a convention, stays at a convention...just kidding (maybe)!
A typical convention starts with a kind of warm-up dinner on Friday night where members who haven’t seen each other for a while can catch up, and new members can get to know everyone. This is followed by a day of workshops on Saturday. This can include anything from sight-seeing activities, to health and lifestyle classes, to art classes or any type of course that our members would like to share their expertise in. Saturday ends with an exciting cabaret in which our members can showcase their talents and have an evening of fun and laughs. On Sunday morning there is usually a panel discussion, where members can learn about and discuss a topic relevant to their lives. The last two convention panels have included an anniversary program and a panel on emergency management in natural disasters.
Where are Conventions Held?
They have been held all over Japan, with recent locations including Kanto, Kyushu, Shikoku, Tokai, Chubu and Kansai. Sometimes they are held at luxurious hotels near the sea and other times they are held at more modest accommodations in the center of an urban sprawl. The venue is different every year, meaning each year has something new and exciting to offer.
Why do Members Attend?
There are many reasons our members love to attend conventions. Some of us live in rural settings and AFWJ conventions are the only chance we have to meet and socialize with other foreign wives like us. Others enjoy an escape from the daily drudgery of work, mothering, and/or married life, with a chance to really let our hair down and relax for the weekend. Many of us go to meet old friends and catch up with everyone. While others see it as a great opportunity to learn from our members who are experts in various areas, a chance to share their own expertise, and network with other foreign wives in Japan. The reasons for attending a convention are as varied as our members, but pretty much everyone who does attend has a great time and looks forward to attending again in the future. Some of us start saving our 500 yen coins for the next year's convention as soon as we come home from this year's!
How can I Attend?
In order to attend an AFWJ convention you have to qualify to be a member, join AFWJ, register for the next convention, start saving your money to attend and then book your own travel arrangements to the next convention. For more information on how to join AFWJ, please check out our webpage on how to join.
You now know a little more about AFWJ conventions, what they offer, and what they mean to our members. In order to really see just how wonderful conventions are, and how fun our members can be, you'll just have to sign up with AFWJ and join us at our next annual convention, we’d love to see you there!