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A Brief History of the German Professional Women’s Association (GPWA Inc.)
It all started as an idea back in April of 1998. For quite a while, Christina Griesser had been meeting regularly with three of her German friends at a restaurant, when it occurred to her to include other German-speaking women in their small group. Growing up in the Detroit area as one of three children of a German immigrant couple, she learned to love the German language and culture. Her late mother taught German culture and language for many years to children of other German immigrants at her own private school, which Christina and her siblings attended for many years every Saturday.
Christina’s commitment to and love of her German heritage led her to be the organizer and leader of this small group of women. By sheer word of mouth, this club grew by leaps and bounds to include more than 150 members today. Word gets around fast to reach newcomers from overseas; by joining this group, they are spared the sense of isolation, which so often accompanies the move to another continent.
Members can bring guests, and by submitting a questionnaire with contact information, these guests can become members as well. The prerequisites for membership in this group are an interest in the German culture, the ability to speak German, and to either work or to be significantly involved in outside activities.
The group is truly international and includes many Americans and women from other countries besides Germany. There are no age limits, and the members belong to a great variety of professions: secretaries, managers, small business owners, doctors, lawyers, counselors, coaches, and more, as well as mothers and homemakers who are engaged in activities outside their homes.
At most meetings, a speaker is engaged who speaks about a topic of general interest, followed by a question-and-answer session. The members support each other as friends, and of course networking plays a large role also. Special questions can be asked by e-mail to the entire group – somebody always has an answer to each problem.
The monthly newsletter includes the profile and photo of one of the members. All members can contribute to this newsletter, which informs about local business and cultural events and events within the German community as well as job offers and other items of interest. This Newsletter and other informative emails are distributed to all members via e-mail.
The German Professional Women Association fulfills an important role for German-speaking women in Metro Detroit as an international meeting place, a networking group, a forum for exchange and discussions, and a place where members contribute to the German-American friendship and foster international understanding and tolerance.