Breathing New Life into SWIC, the 34-Year-Old Shenzhen Expat Club

By Emmanuelle Rathouis, November 23, 2020

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The Shenzhen Women’s International Club (SWIC) was created a few years after the establishment of Shenzhen as a special economic zone. As the city grew into the shining example of China’s reform and opening-up initiative, SWIC welcomed more and more members into its fold.

Fast forward 34 years and SWIC remains one of the best places for the expat community in Shenzhen to meet up and look for support. Moving and living in China is probably easier now thanks to technology and translating apps, but there are still plenty of hurdles to face when you first arrive. The women of SWIC have been helping each other settle and thrive in Shenzhen since its creation.

The COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on membership, with many families not being able to return to China after the Chinese New Year. The situation has brought profound albeit positive changes for the club. The president, Pollyanna Koh, and the new board saw that it was an opportunity to rebuild and move on with the times for SWIC. 

The club is funded through membership fees and the support of local businesses who had been advertising in its print magazine and offering discounts to members. Koh saw that it was high time to do away with the cumbersome magazine and launch a more environmentally friendly official WeChat account that stays up-to-date and is helpful to both members and advertisers alike. 

Beyond weekly news, there are chat groups dedicated to regular activities such as the hiking group, the foodies’ group, the arty group and the play-date group for the mums and more. There is also a ‘tip line’ where members use their wealth of insider knowledge to provide answers to the members’ practical questions: from ‘How do you find a good orthodontist?,’ ‘How do I use Taobao?’ to ‘Where can I get my laptop fixed?’

Image courtesy of SWIC

The club is also about having fun. SWIC runs weekly and one-off activities organized by its own members. Just over the past month, SWIC ladies had the chance to hike Wutong mountain, go for exploratory walks in Shenzhen parks and hard-to-find shopping malls, climb up the steps of Nanshan on Mondays, attend the Tuesday morning coffee meeting at the Hilton in Shekou, or the Crowne Plaza in Futian, play tennis doubles, try their hands at archery at one of the best ranges, toast their friends at Baia Burger Concept’s happy hour cocktail party, taste homemade international food at a potluck luncheon, or join mums and their toddlers on Shenzhen Bay for a birthday party. And so much more… The idea is that members can suggest and organize new activities for the club at any time and shouldn’t rely solely on an organizing committee.

Image courtesy of SWIC

The next big event is the annual SWIC Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, December 5. This fun-filled day for the whole family will take place at The Terrace in Sea World between 10am to 4pm. It’s free and everyone in need of Christmas spirit and festive cheer is very welcome to come along. You will find international food and wine tasting opportunities, a chance to get a photo with Santa and Cai Shen, listen to carol singers, do some face-painting or enjoy kiddie manicures, try out archery, and shop for unique handcrafted gifts. This is also an occasion to find out more about SWIC, its social and cultural calendar and to join its once-again-thriving membership.

To find out more about SWIC, email or scan the QR code below:


[Cover image via SWIC]

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