By Victoria Hicks, Relocation Services
On a regular day at The International Center, the Relocation Services department sends about 50 to 100 emails a day. Our job lies in the preparing, scheduling and welcoming of professionals from all over the world, making their stay or relocation as smooth as we can manage it so that they can concentrate on their jobs and families. Our hundreds of emails range from scheduling school visits for clients with children to acting as the middle man between landlords and our clients. Sounds simple, right? Except planning and scheduling can only get you so far when you have to take into consideration delayed flights, denied visas, angry landlords and clients who occasionally have limited English skills.
Working to relocate 20 people a month can be complicated and fast passed, interesting –but a bit detached. I know that I am helping real people relocate, that all that I am doing is leading to real actions and events, but when we don’t witness the results, it can be hard to comprehend just how much we are helping. I had this problem until July 9 when I went into the field and shadowed our own Ikue Shirayanagi while she helped a client (Alice) and her son get settled and acquainted with Indianapolis.
Early on Wednesday morning Ikue picked me up from our own Regions Bank Building and we drove over to the canal to pick up Alice from her hotel. I knew very little about Alice from our email exchanges. I knew that she was a Short Term Assignment (3-9 months) from China to Lilly and that her son was 11 years of age. It is a bit strange when you meet that person, not a complete stranger—but not quite an acquaintance either. She was very pleasant and very knowledgeable about American life. As we drove her to her appointments at the BMV and at Lilly’s HR office, both Ikue and I got to know her better. As it turned out Alice and her family had already lived in the United States and Alice herself is a naturalized American citizen. Alice and her husband had lived in Ann Arbor for many years, and she had also lived in Canada, Australia and China. She was no stranger to moving across the world, she said she was such a veteran at traveling across the world that jet-lag didn’t bother her as much anymore.
After her appointments, Ikue took us on a tour of the city and pointed out helpful places, such as hospitals, grocery stores and Chinese restaurants, which would not insult her Chinese pallet. And even though she had traveled all over the world, and had probably had her fair share of tours around many strange cities, she was very nice and seemed very interested. When we were done with the tour, Ikue and I dropped them off at their hotel and bade them farewell and good luck. Alice thanked us and expressed to us how thankful she was to have gotten help in getting to know the city and for getting her to the various appointments that she needed to be at in order to settle into US more easily.
It was a very fun day, but above all it was a very enlightening day because now every time I send an email to one of our clients, or on behalf of one them, I will know that my assistance is really and actually helping them make their transition that much easier and less stressful. So really, at the heart of Relocation Services, we are working to help people.