There may be no better way for the English-speaking expatriate to get into the swing of German life than to join one of the many clubs and other organizations available to them. The variety of them is seemingly endless. In addition to fellowship, they offer a chance to golf, sing, taste wine, visit the theater or make business contacts.
They also present an opportunity to meet Germans, since many Germans also like international contacts. The clubs, however, are not good places for you to practice your German. The Germans are more likely to want to practice their English on you.
The list that follows only scratches the surface of the many clubs and organizations of interest to English-speakers in Germany.
Women’s clubs perform a large number of services, with sub groups for all categories of women from “Empty Nesters” (single income, no kids) to working women. The “Mother’s Corner,” for moms with pre-schoolers, provides for play groups, parties and a “Mom’s Night Out,” with such things as wine tastings, cooking lessons and recipe exchanges for adults only. Other activities include tennis, bridge, quilting, bowling, golf, book clubs, potluck dinners, theater visits and tours.
Many of these clubs are organized into the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas (FAWCO). To learn more about it, and to find about a club in your area, check its website at www.fawco.org
The Federation of German-American Clubs is probably the biggest organization in Germany. It has more than 30 clubs in Germany and is organized into women’s, men’s, family and youth chapters and has two organizational programs: a student exchange program and a youth program providing for home stays in both countries. For further information: www.vdac.de/vdac/index.php?=&lang=en
Business organizations, of course, also play a role. The American German Business Club (AGBC) is a not-for-profit organization, presently with 11 chapters. Its aim is to support German and American commercial relations and act as a forum for social and business networking. Its national office is in Meckenhiem, near Bonn, and current regional chapter organization include Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Kaiserslautern, Karlsruhe, Munich, Saxony, Stuttgart and Washington/Baltimore. Activities include informal leisure time get-togethers, networking evenings, dinners, charity fund raisings, sponsorships and events with keynote speakers. Its websites are: frankfurt.agbc.org and agbc-munich.com
The American Chamber of Commerce in Germany (AmCham Germany) was founded in 1903, making it one of the oldest bilateral economic organizations in Europe. It has some 3,000 German and American members, making it also the largest AmCham in Europe. Its mission is to promote unrestricted competition, trade and investment between Germany and the United States. Luncheons with speakers are held regularly in a number of German cities, and there is also a program of seminars, business conferences, New Year’s receptions and tours of member companies and other institutions of interest. For complete information on Chamber activities visit its website at www.amcham.de
Political parties. Even America’s two major parties are represented here. They keep overseas citizens informed on political developments at home through regular meetings, educational programs, special events and newsletters. They also lobby on issues of concern to expatriates, help with absentee voting and even send delegates to national conventions. You can learn of the activities of Democrats Abroad at www.democratsabroad.org and Republicans Abroad at www.republicansabroad.org
The American Legion in Germany tasks itself with supporting the active duty military, family members, retirees and veterans living here with such services as filing claims for benefits. It also conducts Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies in every community, and otherwise supports the Legion program, including the placement of American flags on the graves of fallen American and Allied soldiers in European military cemeteries each Memorial Day. There are Legion posts in most of the German communities with a substantial American military presence. The German posts fall under the Department of France, one of the Legion’s 55 departments. To learn of a post near you check the website at www.amerlegiondeptfrance.org
The Royal British Legion, Britian’s premier service charity, has 15 branches in Germany. As at home, the Germany-based active and retired persons are dedicated to caring for men and women who have served in the armed forces and their families. Their work includes raising and distributing money to relieve hardship where it exists among these persons; helping ex-servicepersons to collect pensions to which they are entitled; assisting serving men and women in their return to civilian life, and promoting the interests of family members of those who are serving. Much of its money is raised through the its annual Poppy Appeal. Its branches are mainly in present and former garrison towns of the British Army of the Rhine: Bergen-Hohne, Berlin, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Fallingbostel-Heide, Gütersloh, Hameln, Herford, Lippe, Minden, Münster, Osnabrück, Paderborn, Rheindahlen and Sauerland. For more information: www.rblgermany.org
The John-F.-Kennedy Friendship Center is a non-profit organization established by parents and teachers of the John F. Kennedy School in Berlin, though membership is open to the general public. It is dedicated to fostering the German-American community, sponsoring several bilingual day care centers and offering various activities for the community, including language classes, playgroups, art, dance and drama courses, as well as holiday celebrations at Fasching, Halloween and Thanksgiving. The John f. Kennedy School, part of the Berlin public school system, provides a German-American bicultural, bilingual education. For more information on the Friendship Center: www.jfkfriendshipcenter.org
Frankfurt-n-Motion Sports & Social group is about building an outstanding integral International and Expat community, including Frankfurt expats and locals from the Rhein Main international community. Our goal is to inspire one another to have fun and keep fit with a variety of sports, and social events. Sports – running, yoga, triathlons, biking, mountain biking, basketball, pilates, martial arts, tennis, beach volleyball, rock climbing, hiking and more. Also community events like – arts, theater, dancing (salsa, disco, creative dance) concerts, plays, operas, trips, dinners, movies, meditation retreats, personal growth events, festivals, wine tastings, parties, jam sessions, BBQs and more. All ages are welcome – Families and Kids too. We currently have over 5000 members from over 30 countries ! There is something for everyone so get involved and be proactive in building our international community. We have weekly events that are Free and Fun! Join Us!
Web – www.frankfurt-n-motion.com
Find us on Facebook – Frankfurt-n-Motion
Contact us – [email protected]
The oldest German-American friendship organization in Germany is the Steuben-Schurz-Gesellschaft in Frankfurt am Main (refounded in 1948). It is named after two Germans: Steuben who served for George Washington as general during the war of independence and Schurz who supported Abraham Lincoln in his fight against slavery. The society’s objectives comprise activities such as visits to political and cultural centers as well as monthly lectures held by keynote speakers from culture, politics and business. The members of the SSG (with main, ladies, junors groups) strive to provide newcomers with initial contacts and assistance (there is also a monthly Stammtisch). Their patronage program consists of scholarships and support programs among which the major project is the USA Interns-Program. For contacts see www.steuben-schurz.org and www.usa-interns.org.