History of PWC-Stavanger
In 1968 – 69, foreign oil companies began to send employee and their families to Stavanger to work in the budding oil industry. Stavanger was then a small fishing town. Some days the smell from the factories was so bad you could not even open your windows!
There were no pubs, bars, coffee shops, fast food restaurants, or malls. The selection in the grocery stores was also limited. The airport was very small, and there was a language barrier as not many Norwegians spoke English then.
A Canadian woman had come here in the mid-1960s and married a Norwegian man. This couple used to help new expat families by picking them up at the airport, teaching them Norwegian, and opening up their home to them.
In September 1970, three Stavanger oil industry wives decided there should be an organization for expat partners in Stavanger. The group would provide a place to share information, cultivate friendships, gather socially, and extend philanthropy.
That was the start of the Petroleum Wife’s Club (PWC). It was only open to women with connections to the oil industry. There were 54 members in the charter group that September, and they represented six nationalities.
The club offered four classes that first September: bridge, Norwegian, flower arranging, and creative stitching. By April 1979, the club had grown to 632 members representing 21 nationalities. Dozens of classes were offered.
At coffee mornings, the newcomers had opportunities to meet up with other women in the same situation, make new friends, ask questions, and get help with language problems.
Fundraising has always been a vital part of the organization. Raffles, cookbooks, and jewellery sales supplied funds for philanthropic projects. In November 1971, PWC made their first donation - a television set for the multiple sclerosis hospital.
The children weren’t forgotten either. They missed traditions like Halloween from home, so a bazaar and party were planned. The event became so popular that all nationalities came, and it turned into the biggest single fundraiser to date. Members worked for months to produce plants, needlework, knitting, and baked goods. There were games for all as well as a costume contest.
In addition to Halloween, PWC also had 4th of July parties, western dancing, and a flea market twice a year.
The women of PWC worked as hostesses at oil conferences and for golf tournaments. They provided translators when needed, trying to serve as useful and productive members of their society.
Members also arranged their own tours to Lapland, Russia, Israel, and France and many more places. They toured every factory and historical location possible to learn more about Stavanger and Norway.
PWC has since changed its name to PWC-Stavanger. The name now stands for “People Who Connect” rather than the traditional “Petroleum Wives Club.” The club is open to everyone, not only partners of employees of the oil industry. It’s run with the same purpose as before, though: friendship, cultural exchange, and philanthropy. It is a nonprofit organization run by members, for members.