A chat with the Team of Holland Expat Center South is like opening a box of colourful vibrant butterflies. …Read on to understand how important you are to them.
Dawn of Holland Expat center South (HECS)
In 2010, the Holland Expat Center South was started as a result of a flourishing economy of the region and the need for international talent. The foreign knowledge workers, in turn, needed assistance in settling down in a foreign country. The needs of the expat families range from networking to jobs for the spouses to education of children, etc. With the support of the Brainport, the province of Noord Brabant and the participating municipalities floated the Holland Expat Center South to address the needs of the expats. HECS serves the expats in the province of Noord Brabant and a part of Limburg. For more information visit their page.
The five-member team of HECS is friendly, empathetic and above all “happy to help”. The director Kris De Prins, a Belgian, steers the strategy and innovation of HECS. HECS has played an important role in initiating ventures such as SGE international, the HUB, etc. Kris is passionate about helping people. He proudly declares that they have helped 2600 persons with their formalities in last year. The HECS has a growth rate of 25% every year since its inception.
The Project Coordinator Events and Communication, Olivia is a lovepat herself from the USA. She is happy to see clients settle into living here and doing well for themselves.
Marleen and Juliana share the office administration responsibilities. Anoek Smits is the only Dutch in this team of diverse nationalities. Though Marleen is Dutch, she was born and raised in Luxembourg. Juliana, a Slovak, considers herself a global citizen especially after living in three countries in the past ten years. Besides the regular workforce, volunteers share the workload.
HECS aspires to be the “one-stop location” for all expat needs such as Legalities/formalities, services, information and support. The message from HECS is “keep in touch” and “when in doubt, ask. “It doesn’t matter how many years you have been here already, we are always willing to help”emphasises Olivia. She also adds that HECS is very active in social media, so expats can follow them on Facebook or on Twitter or on LinkedIn and the services are free.
The HECS reaches out to expats who have not completed their formalities through them in many ways. For example by giving presentations in International school Eindhoven. They are also in the process of setting up holy grail “pop up welcome desks” in many locations such as the High Tech Campus. Olivia explains that HECS tries in every way possible to reach out to internationals ad expats. The employer directs their employees to HECS. However, social media remains the commonest way to find HECS for the other expats.
Role of the Expat center
The expat center takes care of expats in all stages of their stay;
On arrival: Legalities/formalities, settling down-support, housing, taxes, healthcare insurance, education needs of children, jobs for spouses and finding suitable places for hobby interests.
The next step: Networking and integration, learning Dutch, buying a house, moving to a different municipality within the Netherlands, leisure activities and volunteering.
In the long run: Staring your own business, choosing to work in neighbouring countries while living in the Netherlands and when you choose to call Eindhoven home.
HECS is continuously conducting events on a wide variety of topics. The events are so successful that Expat workshop evening on Taxes on February 22 in Eindhoven reached maximum capacity within three days. HECS has successfully completed 25 events in 2017.
Olivia says, “We have something for the students too” and reminds that HECS has reached out to many international students and provided information on how to obtain the orientation year permit. This permit allows graduates from non-EU countries to stay in the Netherlands for a period of up to twelve months while seeking employment as a highly skilled migrant.
The Expat Guide
Twice a year the expat center releases The Expat’s Guide which could rightly be called the expat bible. It is a ready reckoner with information on various topics. One can even find a driving school where the instructor speaks English. “Can you please, strongly highlight that the expat guide is for free to your readers” chirp Olivia and Kris in a chorus.
The chat continues. … Look out for part 2.
For Eindhoven News: Beena Arunraj.