BELONGING

Global Perspectives: International Neighbors find a home in Venn neighborhoods

By

Oliver Jones

– VOL. 6

For Jake, it was all about the bills. 

 Don’t get him wrong, the Madison, Wisconsin resident can speak and read Hebrew fluently, but since he moved to Tel Aviv a few years ago, he found unraveling the intricacies of the fine print on, say, an internet contract, to be incredibly aggravating. “It’s a big headache,” he says.

For Luciana, it was dinner time. 

Having been born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she just can’t get accustomed to restaurants in her new hometown of Kansas City, Missouri— where the biological laboratory technician moved four years ago— closing at 9pm. “I’m not used to having dinner until 9:30 pm,” she says.

As anyone who has moved to a foreign country can attest, there are a million challenges just like these— little things that stack up and can make laying down roots so daunting.  

Fortunately for Jake Kornblatt and Luciana Castellano, they are both members of the Venn community; they have a tool— several of them, really— to help not only smooth the difficult transition of moving to another country, but also to make a true home for themselves in their new world.

Image of international neighbors at a local market in Tel Aviv

This fall, new Neighbors and long-time residents in the Tel Aviv gathered at an outdoor market hosted by Venn. 

“I was looking for a studio apartment to live in by myself, but at the same time I really wanted to be around people,” says Kornblatt, a social justice entrepreneur who gets around Tel Aviv on bike. “So, I live in a building where I have a tiny studio— I’m a minimalist and it’s really all I need. But then when I leave this room, I go into the building, and I am friends with the people here. We all can hang out together in the communal space. It’s wonderful.”

Both Kornblatt and Castellano hardly lack for friends in their new city; the issue was that most of the people they knew were not in the neighborhoods they live in and love. In Kornblatt’s case, Shapira in south Tel Aviv and in Castellano’s, Midtown Kansas City. 

Before Venn, I had never really interacted with any of my neighbors,” says Castellano. “Now, I’m getting to know not only people from my building, but also people from different buildings across the neighborhood. It’s fun!”

It’s also productive: both international transplants also use Venn’s co-working spaces to build out their professional profiles.

Before Venn, I had never really interacted with any of my neighbors…”

“Venn provides me with a co-working space that’s just a couple of blocks from my place and that is just so convenient,” says Kornblatt. “I get lots of work done there and I’ve made a lot of important connections there.”

Adds Castellano, “Venn has helped me and many of my neighbors grow in our careers by building a space to connect with other professionals. They have space where people can post job openings or job searches, which provides great opportunities for our community.”

The Venn experience is as unique as its Neighbors. Kornblatt, for example, rarely uses the Venn app. “I am just kind of a low-tech guy,” he says, sheepishly. He prefers to keep up-to-date on community events the old-fashioned way, by looking at his building bulletin boards.

“I just like the fact that these fun things are always going on,” says Kornblatt. “A lot of times I may not go, but even then, I like having the option.”

Image of International Neighbors Kansas City

Luciana emigrated to Kansas City from Buenos Aires and works to create authentic Neighbor connections as a volunteer building leader. 

Castellano, on the other hand, is all in—with the Venn app and beyond.

“I’ve tried to attend pretty much all the activities that Venn organizes,” she says. “After meeting some of the Venn community managers at these events, I decided I wanted to be part of the community building efforts in our neighborhood, and I became a Building Ambassador.”

Meanwhile, Kornblatt has all of his utilities covered by his Venn fee, just the way he likes it. “Being an American, that just makes my life a lot easier,” he says. 

Now, if Venn could just figure out some way to keep those restaurants open later…

More from the Venn Journal

Sign up to receive the next volume of the Venn Journal.