Bound by Stories: The First Book Club Gathering of OpenEmbassy

Bound by Stories

Our Book Club Gatherings

Sometime ago, at one of our meetings, our colleague said: “When I first started working at OpenEmbassy, I thought this internal culture was a joke.” And it really can seem like that: at Monday check-ins, we talk about the emotions we bring to work. We make each other tea when we need support, congratulate each other on the start of Ramadan, or mourn together over another Russian attack on Ukraine, Gaza or genocide in Palestina.

Author: Anna Bilenka

The power of community

And it’s all because the OpenEmbassy team is not a random collection of people who match the job description. We are people united by mission and values. Moreover, we sincerely believe in the power of community: we already have a community for Ukrainians KOLO, and our colleague has been running a book club for newcomers in the Netherlands for almost ten years.

So it’s no wonder that recently our book meetings took place with the OpenEmbassy team. This time we talked about the book by the world-famous performance artist Marina Abramović, who, by the way, is was in Amsterdam!

Book choice

The choice of the book “Walk through walls” happened for many reasons, but the key one is:

Marina also has living experience as a newcomer to another country, whose story of success can be very inspiring for OpenEmbassy colleagues.

As the experience of Anna Bilenka shows — conversations about books are not just about books on the surface; by creating the right space, the dialogue soon dives into depths where we see the interlocutor and resonate with the life views of another person. This is valuable because in our daily circumstances, there is simply no place where you feel seen and heard.


So it’s official: OpenEmbassy now has a #bookclub! The next book is Priya Parker’s “The Art of Gathering”, which will help us organize expert pool sessions even better and be even more versatile hosts.

Interested in community building or a book club? Drop me a line; you don’t have to ask me for a long time to share this experience 🙂


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