The FAWCO Region 5 Meeting took place in Heidelberg, Germany for the first time ever with it being hosted by FAWCO’s newest Member Club, the Heidelberg International Women’s Club. The organizers, led by President and Founder Christine Funke, took on a huge challenge in the Club’s first year in existence and threw a giant welcoming party for itself by hosting this meeting.
The meeting, held on Friday and Saturday, with optional tours on Sunday, had 48 women in attendance from all the Region 5 Clubs, except for Frankfurt, plus women from Amsterdam, Paris, Denmark, Dublin, and The Hague among others. Eight members from the host club were there with this being the first ever FAWCO event for many of them!
The theme of the meeting was “Connect & Inspire” and the focus was on getting to know the other women in attendance. There were stickers for the name tags for starting conversations, a round of “speed dating” where everyone had two minutes to chat with each attendee, longer lunch time and coffee breaks, and a member directory with attendees’ photos and a short description they provided upon registration. Overall, everyone took the opportunity to reach out to someone they hadn’t met before which created a buzzing atmosphere throughout the weekend.
During the FAWCO and FAWCO Foundation sessions, the majority of the time was spent on hearing from the attendees themselves. Eight FAWCO volunteers, including a counselor, the Inspiring Women editor, the Club Workshops Coordinator and Youth Co-Chair, stood up and gave a short explanation of their position and why they got involved. Later, we heard from women who won an Education Award or have a son or daughter who won one, and from Roxey Lau and Carol Strametz who each won a Development Grant for a project. Last but not least, Target Program Chair Tricia Saur led a round of Q&A with four women who participated in the Target Project Site Visit in April 2018, and in the afternoon Collateral Repair Project Executive Director Amanda Lane spoke with small groups about the Target Project, Hope Beyond Displacement, on the ground in Jordan. It was a unique way for attendees to learn more about FAWCO and the Foundation, and hear about its impact on the women who are actively involved.
Saturday’s meeting sessions were held in the community room at the Peace Church in the Handschuhsheim neighborhood of Heidelberg, where the Heidelberg IWC hosts its Monthly Meeting. The lunch was catered by HIWC Member Juliah Rais-Morres of Serai and proceeds were donated to her organization Cooking for Hope, which supports unaccompanied refugee minors in Heidelberg and the surrounding region. Some of the young men were on hand to say hello and help out with the lunch and cleaning up.
Saturday wrapped up with dinner at the hotel where the attendees were staying. Then on Sunday, attendees did a tour of Heidelberg’s Old Town and Castle, or went for a walk on the Philosophers’ Path and then back through the Old Town.
A weekend with the women of Region 5 is never enough, but we look forward to seeing each other again in March, and of course somewhere else in Region 5 next November.