Connecting YOUR world with the world of the Northern Netherlands
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About Connect

More about us

CONNECT INTERNATIONAL provides practical information and offers personal advice to familiarize international residents with all aspects of living, working and studying in the Northern Netherlands; organizes events and activities to facilitate making further connections; and offers intercultural trainings to the northern-based companies and their international staff.

CONNECT INTERNATIONAL is defined and supported by its committed and knowledgeable international staff and generous volunteers, a Board of Directors and an Honorary Board. The Board of Directors consists of both Dutch and International members from companies and organizations (N.V. NOM,, Blue Umbrella, University of Groininge, NHL Stenden, The NetworKing Corporation, Philips, SME) who are committed to making the Northern Netherlands attractive for international residents to live, work or study in. 

CONNECT INTERNATIONAL is a foundation that began in 1998 as a merger between two other foundations, the International Club Noord Nederland (IntCNN) and Stichting Connect. The IntCNN, a social club for international managers, was founded in 1995 by five different companies in order to provide better services to the international community in the Northern Netherlands. Stichting Connect, founded in 1996, began as the brainchild of a 'trailing spouse' who had found a lack of practical information in English about the Northern Netherlands upon her arrival and set up Connect to rectify the situation. After two years of working side by side, the two organizations merged to become Connect International. Connect International is also one of the founding partners of the International Welcome Center North which opened its doors in November 2014. In 2023, Connect and the IWCN became one organization, together with City Central.


Karen Prowse (USA), General Manager

I moved to Groningen from the USA in 1996 with my Dutch husband and son and was fortunate to meet another English-speaking mom who had just started a foundation called Connect. As I was eager to make contacts in my new home city, I enthusiastically joined Connect as a volunteer and helped organize events for trailing partners (mostly women, at that time). I loved meeting fascinating people from all over the world and learning their life stories. When my expat friend left the Netherlands to continue her journey around the globe, I took over as General Manager of Connect International to be able to continue to provide information and support to internationals in the Northern Netherlands. Through the years since then, I have been privileged to work with many dedicated, caring people who have all contributed their time and efforts to help make Connect International into the organization it is today.

Natalia Zherebtcova (Russia), Co-Events Coordinator Groningen & Drenthe; Personal Advice Consultant

Three years ago in June 2017, I moved to Groningen from Moscow, Russia. I was born and raised in Perm Region (Russia) in a place rich in nature — the Western Ural. After graduating from the Perm Technical University (Mathematical Modeling of Systems and Processes), I moved soon after to Moscow and lived there for 13 years. My professional experience has always been connected with Human Resources and Information Technologies. My role was mostly analytical and project and product management in HR consulting and IT. I was working remotely with the Russian IT-company until January 2020. Sometime after the move to Groningen, I found a volunteer opportunity in Connect International (CI) to organize city trips to the different towns and places in The Netherlands for the members of CI. I was enjoying it very much. There are people from different countries who came to The Netherlands to develop themselves and the fields of science and job areas they work in. I realized that I wanted to work more closely with expats. And when I had an opportunity to become a member of Connect International and the International Welcome Center North team I immediately took advantage of it. I am very happy to be a part of this great team and help expats to settle in the Northern Netherlands.  

Erika Pacheco-Castano (Colombia), Co-Events Coordinator Groningen & Drenthe; Volunteer Meditation Club

I arrived in Groningen in 2017 with my Dutch husband and our two children. The process of adapting to a new life here was quite demanding the first two years (doing Inburgering, getting the Dutch driving license, understanding the new culture, being a full time housewife -which I was not used to-, missing the warmth of my country). Fortunately, in 2019 a friend of mine, who was working at CI told me about the organization and I became a volunteer for Meditation and Latin Dance. It became a nice experience to share with people from different cultures and offer them something that I like. Some months later this friend moved to a different city and recommended my CV for the position of Events Coordinator, which I started in February 2020. For me it has been a blessing to work in this wonderful place to offer a service that I enjoy a lot, as managing Events has always been my favorite area in my 20+ years of career in Communication. CI has also been a platform for me to start renewing my profession, as now I also keep developing my skills as an Integral Coach focused on helping internationals to build capacities in adapting to changes and life in a new country.

Charmaine André (USA), Friesland Co-Events Coordinator 

My Dutch adventure began in 1999 when I moved here. But I wasn’t unfamiliar with the Netherlands. Having a Dutch mother and lots of family here, I had spent many of my 12 week summer vacations as a child/teenager in Boekelo (Enschede). It was such a contrast to Los Angeles: not as busy and very green! I loved the Netherlands and hoped to live here when I was older, even if just for a few years.  Later I met a Dutch guy who became my boyfriend so eventually I was able to realize my dream. But my first year here was anything but a dream. Getting used to a new culture isn’t as rosy as summer vacations here are. I finally adjusted to life in Deventer but then moved to Leeuwarden. Fitting in here has been a challenge. Connect International has changed everything for me. Through working for  them and attending the events, I have met so many people, shared so many stories about first experiences here, and learned about many different cultures. I am very thankful for Connect International and proud to work for this organization!

Are you interested in becoming a volunteer at Connect International? Contact us via, we are always looking for new volunteers to reinforce our team.