FAWCO December 2014 Update

Contents:

* FAWCO Regional Conference Recap

*Development Grants and Educational Awards due January 16, 2015

* Thanks to MIWC members as you continue to Support Target Project – Free the Girls with our monthly Bra Collection.

 

During Munich’s very fun, festive and busy Christmas season, this FAWCO Update is to report, remind and thank all MIWC Members.

I am happy to Report that 8 members of our club attended the FAWCO Regional Conference in Hamburg. We all benefited from the opportunity to meet and network with members of other German and Austrian clubs and exchange club ideas and programs. We also heard from some very interesting professionals on panel discussions on topics such as education for “global” children and very interesting updates and information on dual-citizenship in Germany. We also were updated on important and interesting FAWCO and FAWCO Foundation topics. For all the details, please read the review below. If you have any questions, comments or would like further information on anything from the conference, please contact me at fawco@internationalwomensclub.org   Please consider joining us for the Rome 2015 Biennial Conference which will be held from 25-28 March. More updates to follow and everyone welcome.

This is a Reminder that FAWCO Foundation Development Grants and Educational Awards are due on January 16th. I think a few members and their children are busy working on applications. For all the details, please go to www.fawcofoundation.org and then click on “Our Programs.” We were so successful last year, receiving the Development Grant for Frauenhaus and our member, Madaline Keros, received the University Scholarship. So let’s keep it going! It’s not too late to consider applying and I am here to help if anyone would like a “hand”!

Thanks to our many members who have donated new and slightly used bras for the FAWCO Foundation Target Project – Backing Women. Liz Janson will be delivering our second suitcase full of lovely bras to the Head Office of “Backing Women” in Denver during the holiday season.  

Wishing everyone a very wonderful holiday month from all the FAWCO Team!

Hope and the FAWCO Team – Liz, Cecily, Liesel, Patricia, Sue, Roberta, Michele and Margaret

 

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FAWCO REGION 5 CONFERENCE IN HAMBURG RECAP

 

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. What a wonderful way to network, share and gain knowledge about other club’s ideas and also learn about German and FAWCO issues. At the same time we had fun with other club members and together discovered a new city. Even this Recap Article has be written and put together by participants from each club!

RECAP – FAWCO & Fun Region 5 Meeting

Hamburg November 14-16, 2014

Opening Evening by Angelika McLarren, AWC Berlin

When 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.

Panel on Dual-Citizenship in Germany

The Region 5 team prepared a very interesting panel to talk about dual citizenship and how one would be able to become a dual citizen as an American or European.  Invited speakers included Marc Williams, Chief Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy Berlin, Florian Käckenmester, from the City of Hamburg’s Naturalization Office and Meryem Celikkol, Treasurer of the Green Party in Hamburg and an advocate for immigrants in Hamburg through integration.  This topic is very relevant when one reads about the high number of Americans going through renunciation of their American citizenship as well as the debate in Germany over the last ten years about how to truly integrate immigrants into German society.  Recently as well Germany was named the second most popular country to immigrate to other than the United States so this was an interesting topic.

Marc Williams started off the panel discussing the US Governments attitude towards dual citizenship which is that the US government is neutral about the issue. The US government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause.  Marc himself is a dual US-German national and talked about some of the issues he faced growing up with a German mother and American father.  Marc emphasised that for people with dual citizenship, “there are dual rights and dual responsibilities,” so one needs to keep in mind that they are required to obey the laws of both countries.  US citizens must enter and depart the United States on their American passports and should use their other passport to enter and depart that country.  One other consideration when thinking about taking on an other nationality is that, unlike children of two different nationalities who acquired dual citizenship by birth, people who apply for a foreign nationality may lose their American citizenship because they are making a conscious decision to apply for foreign citizenship.  However in reality, one only looses the American citizenship when you directly inform the US embassy or State Department about your choice.

The topic of U.S. Nationality renunciation was also raised by Marc Williams and some of the issues surrounding it discussed.  There has been a significant increase in the number of Americans renouncing their citizenship over the last few years and some attribute that directly to the new financial reporting laws in effect.  The US has also hiked the fee to renounce citizenship by 422% ( from 450$ to $2,350) and a new law requires that people renouncing their citizenship have to prove five years of U.S. tax compliance. This alone could be a very high burden for some people. The act of renunciation requires two consular interviews and the administration of an oath of renunciation to be administered by an U.S. Consular officer overseas. Marc emphasised that there is no way back once you have taken these steps as a citizenship renunciation is irrevocable. This means as well that once you are no longer a US citizen, you can not apply for citizenship again.

Following the presentation from Marc Williams, there was a presentation from Florian Käckenmester, a local government official working in the Hamburg Naturalization office.  Florian talked about the requirements needed to become a German citizen.  The basics are that a foreigner who has been resident in Germany over eight years and meets the seven basic requirements can apply for naturalization. ( Basically German knowledge, no illegal activities, self supporting, passes the Burger test, supports a democratic system.)   The key requirement for naturalization after an eight year residency is that one must give up or lose their previous citizenship. This requirement can be waived if the home country of the applicant will not allow this person to give up their citizenship or if the burden to give up the citizenship is too high.  Florian explained that the key principle for Germany is that they want to avoid people having multiple nationalities.  Of course for children born of parents of different nationalities, they can have both, but the key principle is still to make people choose.  This has affected the Turkish community the most, as children born in Germany to two non Germans, are not considered German, rather Turkish, despite growing up in Germany.  However since 2000, these children can choose which citizenship they can acquire if they meet certain requirements. Florian was very proud of the work his office does to prepare the foreigners in Hamburg for naturalization and cited all the ways the State of Hamburg supports them in integration.  They help the applicants review their applications and have less than a 1% rejection rate as a result.

The final speaker of the panel was Meryem Celikkol, a Green Party activist in Hamburg and teacher who has become involved in integration projects in Hamburg.  She directs a Integration program throughout Germany focusing on helping immigrants integrate into the workforce and having their qualifications recognized.  A child of Turkish immigrants herself, she also has to grapple with Germany’s requirement to give up their previous citizenship to become a German citizen and is active in this issue.  Meryem brought a different point of view to the panel, in contrast to Marc and Florian, about the consequences these citizenship issues have in people’s lives and how they affect the integration of different immigrant groups into society.  It was interesting to hear about these consequences and how groups like Meryem’s are working to try and bring German citizenship law and immigrants into better harmony together.

Educating Children – Difficult Choices and Options with Consequences

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 & FUN – Getting to Know Hamburg 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 Presentation 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

The 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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