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American Women's Club of Hamburg

2014 FAWCO Region 5 Meeting in Hamburg November 14–16 — Living Globally


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 The FAWCO Region 5 Meeting in Hamburg was by all accounts a great success. The hotel was great, the food was yummy, the speakers were terrific, the entertainment was fantastic, the tours were fun, and everyone had a good time. The AWC Hamburg team pulled it off without a hitch, and we can all be proud of what we all accomplished for our clubs by getting together in the name of FAWCO. Thank you to everyone who attended meeting for your cooperation and participation during the meeting. As always, a group that can get together for FAWCO and Fun is also able to produce an article reviewing the weekend together. Many thanks to all the clubs for sending in your reports that formed this article.

Opening Evening by Angelika McLarren, AWC Berlin

Region 5 photo groupWhen the participants went to the registration desk to pick up their conference materials and name tags, they were surprised by the huge goodie bag filled with lots of wonderful things collected by Tracy Moede and her team.

During the finger food buffet everybody had time to mingle, meet old friends, catch up and introduce the newcomers.

Shawn Klug, the meeting organizer, welcomed all and then handed the mike over to FAWCO's youth ambassador Julia Goldsby from Cologne. Julia and Ally Moede, AWC Hamburg, gave a lively report on their trip to Shanghai where they and 12 other kids of FAWCO members spent 10 days doing charity work. Barbara Bühling, the Youth Program Coordinator, encouraged members to send their kids on next year's trip.

The FAWCO Reps or Presidents had a chance to introduce their clubs and their activities. Thanks to Tracy who had compiled pictures from all the clubs beforehand, the presentations were colorful and stimulating.

Time just flew by and the animated discussions were carried on in the hotel bar.

Educating Children - Difficult Choices and Options with Consequences by Hope Moore, IWC Munich

FAWCO members had the opportunity to learn about a variety of educational approaches available to our children in Germany and particularly in Hamburg.  We were reminded that because the German educational system is not a federal system there are16 states with 16 systems.  During this panel discussion we were introduced to a variety of dynamic schools in Hamburg with different structures and approaches which are designed to meet the varying needs of different students.

The Panel Discussion was lead by Educational Experts representing four different schools that offer bi-lingual, international programs and educational certificates recognized by German and International Universities.The Panel included:

  • Dr. Suzan Weishof, Junior School Principal International School Hamburg
  • Dr. Karl-Heinz Korsten, Headmaster Phorms Hamburg
  • Susanne Wunderlich Education auf Deutsch
  • Kristin Eichholz, Vice Principal Helene Lange Gymnasium

International children have a variety of needs and so families must consider their child’s skills, abilities and interests as well as the personal situation of the family including financial and whether they will be staying in the same city in the long term or moving on. The languages used by the child and by both parents are also a consideration.   It was reassuring to learn that there are a variety of schools for a wide range of children.  Eventually, a child will decided if they wish to go to university in Germany, the U.S. or another country.   It was very reassuring to learn that the I.B., AP and Abitur in Germany are all recognized and valued at U.S., U.K. and other universities outside of Germany.  In fact, students can even be awarded university credits with these certificates.  

Education and cultural integrations go far beyond the 5 F’s—flags, food, festival, fashion and famous people

FAWCO and Fun: Getting to Know Hamburg by Didem Kennan, AIWC Frankfurt, Taunus and Rhein Main.After a very busy morning and a nice lunch, we had an afternoon to see Hamburg. We were given a choice of a visit to the famous Hamburg town hall, a bus tour or a visit to the St Michaelis church, locally known as the Michel, the icon of the Hamburg skyline.  As a first-timer, I opted for the bus tour  to see as much as I could.  This turned out to be an excellent choice.  I was impressed by the geography, the lakes and canals, the gorgeous old mansions by the water, the architecture and by Hamburg's very inviting shops and cafes.  Even the gloomy weather failed to make the city unattractive.  I can imagine how beautiful it must be on a warm and sunny spring day.  Thus, Hamburg quickly became my second favorite city after Frankfurt.  I am grateful to our friends from Hamburg who organized this wonderful outing for us. Hansa Varieté by Mary Dobrian, AIWC Cologne. One of the numerous highlights of this fun and inspiring FAWCO Region 5 weekend in Hamburg was our visit to the Hansa Varieté Theater on Saturday evening. This jewel-box vaudeville theatre is a Hamburg legend, with a history dating back over 100 years. Stepping inside is a bit like going back in time – beginning in the lobby with its dark wood paneling and continuing into the plushy pink and white auditorium with its cozy table seating and bells for summoning the wait staff. I was unsure of what to expect from the show itself, but I was delightfully surprised. The evening began with a short, grainy film about the history of the Varieté, including a run-down of some of the legendary entertainers who have appeared there – from Josephine Baker and Grock the Clown to the then-unknown Siegfried & Roy. From my Cologne perspective, I might describe the main show as a cross between Circus Roncalli and a Karnevals-Sitzung: the emcee, Rolf Claussen, spoke in a heavy Hamburg dialect and entertained the audience between acts with songs, poems and topical political humor with many local references, puns and plays on words. Good German and some familiarity with Hamburg were certainly helpful for understanding many of the jokes. Fewer language skills were needed to enjoy the individual acts, all of which were circus-style entertainment at a very high level. They included a magician who conjured up beautiful live birds, a creatively choreographed duo of unicyclists, and a dog trainer with his adorably disobedient boxer. My personal favorites were the gorgeous and breathtakingly athletic acrobat Oleg Izossimov, and Strahlemann und Söhne – a duo who performed a hilarious combination of juggling and G-rated striptease. All of this was accompanied by lively music from the top-notch Varieté band.  Everyone in our group left the theatre with smiles on our faces.

FAWCO Presentations by Kathy Tolschovsky, AWA Vienna

The focus Sunday morning was FAWCO. We heard from FAWCO President, My Linh Kunst; Sallie Chaballier, FAWCO 2nd VP; and FAWCO Foundation President, Michele Hendrikse Du Bois. Also on hand was Catherine (Cat) Connor, FAWCO web guru.

Started in 1931, with six clubs, today FAWCO is comprised of 64 member clubs in 31 countries on 6 continents. As a virtual organization, FAWCO does so much globally to help women, children and families. The resolve is to improve the lives of women and girls worldwide. All of the information can be overwhelming as FAWCO does so much. Fun Fact: FAWCO has the largest civilian membership of overseas Americans.

Sallie Chaballier spoke about the powerfulness of FAWCO in relationship to rights for Americans (civilians) living overseas. It is important to note that FAWCO lobbies on behalf of all Americans living outside of the USA with regard to voting, issues of taxation, and CEDAW (Conventions for Elimination of Discrimination Against all Women). The USA is one of several countries which has not yet ratified CEDAW nor CRC (Convention on Rights of the Child).  FAWCO is our voice in Washington, DC.

On a broader scale, FAWCO has been an accredited United Nations NGO with consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council since 1997. FAWCO is YOUR voice at the United Nations. This status gives our members a voice on global concerns where it will be heard and acted upon. This is a real coup for FAWCO as Consultative Status is extremely difficult to attain.

My Linh Kunst spoke about the Task Forces and the focus on Education, Environment, Health and Human Rights. Every club member is welcome to participate on one of these task forces. There was also discussion about the FAWCO Youth Program. This is a youth cultural volunteers program and provides FAWCO youth with a cross cultural understanding and philanthropic learning. More information can be found at www.fawco.org.  We also have our first FAWCO Youth Ambassador, Julia Goldsby, and a FAWCO Youth Representative to the UN, Gavin Higbie. Members living in Vienna, Geneva and NY are encouraged to become a FAWCO UN Rep. Currently, Vienna and Geneva reps are on boards of NGO committees for the status of women and children at the UN,.

There is a vast amount of support for member clubs on the website, so no need to reinvent the wheel. There you will find ideas for fundraisers, a best practices library, ideas for club development workshops and more. There are also multiple social media outlets in order to ask for information from other clubs.  The annual conferences and regional meetings also provide opportunity for idea sharing and networking.

The overall message for clubs is for individual club members to become involved. Apply for Education Awards, support a Development Grant, join a task force. Help make a difference!

The FAWCO Foundation is the philanthropic/charitable arm of FAWCO. Both My Linh and Michele spoke about the FAWCO Foundation Target Project ‘Free the Girls’. Women’s Rights as Human Rights is a buzzing topic right now. Monies raised by FAWCO and FAWCO Foundation through the campaign “Backing Women” will be used for creating the infrastructure needed by the ‘Free The Girls’ organization.

Remember, if you are moving back to the US, join FAUSA (FAWCO Alumni USA)($25 single/$40 couple).

Club Issues: Idea Sharing by Tracy Moede, AWC Hamburg

Region 5 photo 4The last workshop of the conference dealt with membership issues; specifically, changing demographics and club concerns facing all region 5 clubs. Among the most pressing issues are 1) how to motivate and increase member participation at club events, 2) philanthropic and community involvement, 3) external relations including PR, sponsors and advertising, 4) fundraising for charity and 5) ideas and activities for recruiting new members. Each club was given the chance to tell how these situations are handled within their clubs, giving all region 5 clubs the opportunity to learn from one another’s experiences. Ideas were exchanged and each club was able to come away from the workshop with different ideas and activity concepts. This type of idea-sharing is always valuable for FAWCO reps, club presidents and all club members. It lets us see what works for other clubs and gives the opportunity to gather ideas that we can implement in our own clubs.  

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