Have you heard about the American Women’s Association? The AWA offers plenty of workshops and social events for all women in Hong Kong, not only American expats. To learn more about the organisation, we chat with Jennifer Maddox – including about new opportunities coming up for women leaders!
What brought you to HK and when?
My family moved to Hong Kong in August of 2021 for my husband’s job – he had taken a position with an international school here.
What did networking look like when you arrived? How did women join social and business circles at that time?
When I arrived almost two years ago, we were in the middle of COVID, so networking was limited. Most of my networking and social circles involved my children’s school. For myself, I joined the American Women’s Association, AWA, so that I would have a social group that was not necessarily about my children.
What did you find when you joined the AWA? What kinds of social events and services does it offer, and who are typical members?
The AWA provides a space for women to support each other here in Hong Kong. The club encourages networking, community service and volunteering, social events and workshops to help women empower themselves and others. It’s open to all women in Hong Kong. We have a mix of long-term and newly relocated women; we also have members who have lived in HK for many years but who want to make new connections.
There is also a common misconception that the AWA is for American ladies only – it’s not. We have members who represent many countries. Our membership includes women who work full-time, those who work part-time or who are busy caring for their family and volunteering. Our members have diverse interests ranging from golf to book clubs to photography to travelling.
What’s your role and what does it entail from day to day?
I am currently the Vice President of Membership and my job is to welcome new members. I also help members to connect with others who have shared interests, and I work closely with our entire board to help support them with their events and projects.
How can people join?
The easiest way to join us is through the AWA website.
What advice would you give newcomers to Hong Kong in terms of networking?
Stop by and join us at one of our casual meetups! We have a weekly informal Thursday morning CHAT (Come Have A Talk) at Cafe 8, or you could join us on Tuesday evenings at Oolaa for OWL (Out With the Ladies).
Both events are open and welcoming to members and non members. In more general terms, I recommend that newcomers to Hong Kong say “Yes”. This is a place with so much to offer, and if at first things seem a little out of your comfort zone, allow yourself time to explore!
What are you excited about for the AWA for the rest of this year and beyond?
We have begun a panel discussion series called Women in Action. We’re bringing together women leaders who are championing social change in Hong Kong. These initiatives include climate and the seas, gender bias in visual arts, problems with sustainable fashion and more!
What are a few things you like to do in Hong Kong when you’re not working?
I don’t consider myself a hiker so I really appreciate how Hong Kong has many trails that are good for beginners. During the cooler months, I try to find a hike so I can recentre myself using nature. I also enjoy attending some of the AWA activities – I’ve found that these are so different and diverse. For example, through the AWA, I have learned to play mahjong, been on a mid-week junk boat, taken a tour of haunted Wan Chai, a tour of the Amber exhibit and a tour of hidden history in Stanley … there’s always something new to explore!
Quick questions about Hong Kong: what is your favourite …
Restaurant? Maison Libanaise
Bar? Dr. Ferns
Local food? Dim sum – I love both the high-end and everyday dim sum restaurants
Nature spot? Any place my husband and I can kayak
Thing to do with visitors? I love to take visitors on the Aqua Luna for the evening light show
Thing to do with kids? Our kids are older teens so we try to do experiences; we’ve taken classes to carve our own chops, tried sea kayaking, and gone on family hikes on Lamma Island. We want to spend our family time producing memories of our time here in Hong Kong before the kids leave the nest.
Nearby holiday destination? Unfortunately, we moved here while the travel restrictions were in place, but we hope to start travelling this year – and we welcome any suggestions!
Find out about AWA’s social events and opportunities for women leaders here!
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2023 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.
See more in our Living in Hong Kong section