June /2018
  AlabamaGermany Partnership   
1900 International Park Drive, Suite 105     Birmingham   AL 35243

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In This Issue
25 Years Later
Evonik Appoints Bonnie Tully CFO
Auto Supplier SMP expands to Tuscaloosa
Three Mobile Students Visiting Germany for Airbus Gala
New German Restaurant in Birmingham
Alabama Climbs Ranks through Automotive Industry
Germany in the 2018 World Cup
Studying Abroad in Germany
Dankeschön to our PATRON Members:



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Those involved offer behind-the-scenes look at how Mercedes came to Alabama
By Alabama Newscenter

Photo by Tine Hoffmeister

Michael Tomberlin with Alabama NewsCenter reported on an event at "Starfest 2018" for the Mercedes-Benz Club of America. As part of the program, a panel of those involved offered a behind-the-scenes look at how the Mercedes-Benz plant came to Alabama. 

Evonik Appoints Bonnie Tully CFO in North America
Press Release by Evonik (AGP Member)

As part of a series of personnel moves, Ms. Bonnie Tully, currently head of Site Service at Evonik's Mobile, Ala., facility, will become Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Evonik Corporation based in Parsippany, N.J. She replaces current CFO Burkhard Zoller, who will become the head of region development, North America for Evonik.

Bonnie Tully joined Evonik in 1993 and has held a variety of assignments in the U.S. and Singapore before taking the role as head of Site Services in Mobile in 2011.

The new head of Site Services in Mobile will be Mr. Kel Boisvert, who is currently site manager at Evonik's Birmingham Laboratories in Birmingham, Ala. Kel Boisvert started with Evonik predecessor company, Degussa, in 1998 and held a series of national and International positions within the company, including three years in Mobile as QUAB site supervisor starting in 2007. He has been site manager in Birmingham since 2014.

All personnel moves are effective June 1, 2018.

Evonik employs more than 1,000 people in Alabama between Birmingham Labs and its Mobile production site, which is also its largest in North America. Birmingham Labs serves as the company's hub for parenteral drug delivery and associated partner drug production and custom manufacturing.

Evonik has more than 33 production sites and over 5,000 employees in North America.

For additional information about Evonik in North America, please visit our website:

Auto supplier SMP expands US footprint at new Tuscaloosa plant
By Made in Alabama

Samvardhana Motherson Peguform (SMP) marked the official opening of a 700,000-square-foot Alabama auto parts plant with optimism that hiring could surpass initial projections.

Though  SMP inaugurated the Tuscaloosa plant Friday afternoon, the facility already has a workforce of 320 people, months before actual production begins. The company said the factory could eventually employ more than 1,000.

When  SMP formally announced the Alabama plant in August 2015, the supplier said the $150 million facility would have 650 workers by the fourth year of operation.

The plant's focus will be on the production of door panels, bumpers, claddings, roof spoilers and running boards for  Mercedes Benz U.S. International, the automaker's assembly plant just a few miles away.

Three Mobile students visiting Germany for Airbus gala
By al.com

Al.com, in an article by Lawrence Specker, reported that three students from Mobile's Palmer Pillans Middle School travelled to Germany as part of a mentoring program, the Airbus Flying Challenge.  

New German Restaurant in Birmingham

A new biergarten, named  Brät Brot, has opened in Southside. Its menu consists of German staples such as bratwurst, schnitzel, and pretzels, as well as authentic German beers

Brät Brot is located at 2910 Sixth Avenue South in Birmingham. Go check them out!

Visit their website here
Alabama Climbs Ranks Due to Automotive and Manufacturing Investment
By Dale Buss

Dale Buss with Chief Executive reports that Alabama has climbed the ranks in terms of Best and Worst States for Business.  Alabama now ranks 17, up from 24 three years ago.  

Germany in the 2018 FIFA World Cup 

Shirt badge/Association crest

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is just around the corner, and Germany has been picked as the overall favorite to win the tournament. Be sure to watch Germany play on the following dates: 

vs. Mexico
17 June 2018
10:00 am

vs. Sweden
23 June 2018
1:00 pm

vs. South Korea
27 June 2018
9:00 am

Studying Abroad in Germany
By John Stephen Hutchinson, University of Alabama at Birmingham 

Moin! I am John Stephen Hutchinson, a student of International Studies and German at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). I am expecting to graduate in 2019, and I am currently interning at AlabamaGermany Partnership.

Over the last Spring semester I had the wonderful opportunity to study abroad with the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) in Lüneburg, Germany. Our USAC group consisted of around 45 students from various countries, although most were from the United States. Our classes were held at Lüneburg's university called Leuphana, whose founders transformed former WWII barracks into a place of higher education. While I was in Lüneburg I studied the German language at the advanced level as well as German and European politics.

Lüneburg, located in the German state of Lower-Saxony with a population of around 75,000 people, is a city of rich history. Lüneburg offers a special setting in Germany as a city relatively untouched by World War II, having retained many of its original medieval buildings and streets. Visitors to the city can enjoy its many landmarks, museums, and restaurants without having to encounter the heavy tourism that's associated with Germany's world-famous cities. Lüneburg is a city large enough to have plenty to do when you need some activity, but small enough that it's peaceful and quiet when you need a break. Furthermore, it's location in Lower-Saxony makes it easy to travel to other cities of interest. With the use of the Leuphana Semester Ticket I was issued, I was able to visit Bremen, Lübeck, Hamburg, Wolfsburg, and many more locations free of charge.

A student studying abroad must be prepared for the various cultural differences he or she will experience for an extended amount of time. Sometimes outsiders may perceive a foreign culture's habits as rude. For example, in northern Germany "small talk" with strangers is generally avoided. While Americans commonly greet others (including strangers) with "how are you doing?" the German equivalent "Wie geht's?" is reserved primarily for people one knows, as the term denotes actual interest in another's private life. For this reason I witnessed a few awkward moments in which my friends, in an effort to be friendly, asked total strangers, "Wie geht's?" only to be met with blank stares or visible confusion. Additionally, Germans tend to be more direct and are also not averse to asking questions on topics that Americans tend to avoid. For instance, whenever I held a conversation with a German, he or she often asked what I thought about the current political climate in the USA. These questions are never asked out of rudeness, however, but rather out of true curiosity. Other cultural differences were fun to discover. One amusing cultural difference that I personally experienced was a difference in tastes for snacks. While we Americans couldn't handle black licorice, our German friends found it hard to stomach beef jerky. We agreed, however, that we all liked Reese's Cups.

Those studying abroad gain cultural insight and experiences far beyond those that one can experience by merely traveling or vacationing abroad. To live in another culture is to properly experience the everyday lives of those living in a country other than one's own. From my own experience, some of the best memories I have from my time abroad weren't necessarily seeing the centuries-old landmarks or visiting museums full of priceless works of art (although these moments were great), but rather were being involved in the local community through cultural events or during holidays. During my time in Germany I experienced several German birthday parties (including my own), Gründonnerstag and Easter, field hockey matches, and several neighborhood gatherings. Being able to participate in a backyard cookout on a Spring afternoon offered a more authentic experience of everyday life in Germany than I could have received as a tourist.

Additionally, the value of studying abroad isn't only found in the fun that it brings, but also in the skills that one improves or gains during his or her time abroad. Studying a country's foreign language while living in that country is the most effective way to study a foreign language. In Germany I was able to constantly hear proper pronunciations and constantly practice my German. Furthermore, I learned new words at a faster rate due to continually hearing new words or needing to learn new ones in order to communicate. Words that I wouldn't have learned in the classroom suddenly became important, and ones that I had learned were now applicable. Learning German isn't only fun, but also beneficial for someone entering the job market, as employers find the ability to speak German an attractive skill.

To any student with any interest in the German language or culture, I highly recommend studying abroad. It's a great way to experience Germany in a way that one can't experience as a tourist, while also improving or gaining new skills. If you decide to study abroad, be prepared for challenges and cultural differences, but also be prepared to have some of the best experiences of your life. It's worth it!