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

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In This Issue
AGP New Member Reception
AGP Dinner with Governor Ivey
AGP Connector Dinner at UA
Farewell to Consul General Detlev Rünger
Ambassadors in Sneakers
The Power of German as a Second Language

Dankeschön to our PATRON Members:



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AGP New Member Reception

Join us for our AGP New Member Reception as we welcome and introduce our new members who have joined our organization over the past 12 months:

Thursday, September 6, 2018
5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The Marble Ring, Birmingham

Help us welcome our new members while you enjoy Hot Diggity Dogs' Hot Dog and Tots Bar and beverages. Expand your network, come connect with our newcomers and mingle with familiar faces in the hidden mysterious cocktail bar "The Marble Ring", a 20's Speakeasy with casual networking atmosphere. 

Thank you to our generous sponsor: 

AGP Dinner with Governor Ivey
By Devin Dolive, VP Communication, AGP Executive Committee

We celebrated AGP's 20th Anniversary in March at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International's Visitor Museum, and we are excited to continue our celebration.  Thus, we were honored when several members of the AGP's original charter board and members of the AGP's current executive committee received an invitation to a dinner at the Governor's Mansion in Montgomery.
We thank Governor Kay Ivey for taking time out of her busy schedule to meet with us and for being such a gracious host.  The AGP has worked hard these past 20 years to strengthen relationships between Alabamians and Germans, and it was a real privilege to receive acknowledgement of these efforts, not to mention the chance to visit the Governor's Mansion! 

AGP Connector Dinner at The University of Alabama
By Tine Hoffmeister, Executive Director for AGP

A few weeks before The University of Alabama welcomed more than 37,000 students back to campus, the president, Dr. Bell, hosted an AGP Connector Dinner for 160+ guests. Dr. and Mrs. Bell open their doors to their beautiful mansion for the reception, and later the guests enjoyed a wonder Alabama-themed buffet at the North Zone at the Bryant-Denny Stadium.

This was AGP's 2nd Connector Dinner. The first was hosted by Auburn University last year. The goal with AGP's Connector dinners are to connect the university, German expats and company leaders, the AGP board members and the local community; to encourage collaborative research, creation of highly educated workforce and future partnerships. Our hopes are to encourage conversations that will strengthen relationships and build new partnerships that will benefit the state of Alabama and Germany.

The following day, was the AGP Business Forum - The Future of Engineering, at UA's College of Engineering. It was a great day where we learned and discussed the challenges of preparing students for a fast evolving future. We heard from Chuck Karr, Dean of College of Engineering, Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian, Executive Director of The Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies and Dr. Tim Haskew, Dept. Head and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Students presented their EcoCAR, a four year engineering competition. The day ended with engineering tours and demonstrations.

Farewell to Consul General Detlev Rünger

Earlier this month, we bit farewell to the consul general of the Federal Republic of Germany Detlev Rünger after his 3 years on the post in Atlanta covering the South. He will start his new assignment as Ambassador to Denmark soon. We wish him the best of luck in his new ventures. Please find an excerpt of the speech here

" Two weeks ago, it seems, reason prevailed and President Trump and Commission President Juncker agreed in a political statement that we should rather abolish tariffs and further open our markets and that is really good news. Now Europe must remain united - and than let us hope that appropriate, balanced, mutually beneficial solutions will be found. 

The same is true for US-China relations, for NAFTA and for the problems we all have in our trade and investment dealings with China. This is a grand picture as it unfolded between Washington, Berlin and Brussels in the past 3 years and I had the privilege to watch these events from a very comfortable position here in Atlanta.

Was I ever really concerned about German-US relations in these years? Actually: No. Yes, we have some controversies and our interests are not always the same, politicians must take care of the sentiments of their home constituencies and the media often love bad news. But responsible governments should talk and negotiate and find common ground, as we always did. There is so  much substance in the transatlantic relationship that our links will not easily be damaged. 

My experience here in the South gives proof of the quality and depth of our relations. Governments here very much value open borders, free trade and foreign investment. The Southeast is an important and successful region, twice the size of Germany with nearly 40 mio. inhabitants and it is not by chance that this region in the past decades became the hub of German industrial investment in the US. More than a thousand German companies have created more than one hundred thousand jobs. And many more, when you consider jobs in supplier industries. 

No, I am not concerned about German-US or EU-US relations. We have broad mutual interests, we benefit from each other - and after all we are partners and friends. Ladies and gentlemen, you here in this room quite perfectly represent the most important contacts the German Consulate General in Atlanta has in this region and I want to express my deep gratitude to you."

Ambassadors in Sneakers
By John Stephen Hutchinson, AGP Intern

On July 27th, 2018, AlabamaGermany Partnership and Honorary German Consul Michael Johnson met with the students of the 2018 Ambassadors in Sneakers program. This human-rights focused program was founded by the German-American Institute Tübingen, and comprises of 24 high school aged students; this year's program had 12 students from Germany, 10 from Georgia, and 2 from Alabama. The program spanned a total of four weeks, starting with a trip to Kiel and Berlin, Germany from May 19th to June 2nd. During this time the German students acted as hosts for the American students. The second stage of the program began on July 21st when the American students, now the hosts, welcomed the German students in Birmingham before the group checked-in to their dorms at Miles College. In both countries, students had the opportunity to hear various speakers and see many landmarks important to human rights. While in Birmingham, the students visited sites such as the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Birmingham Civil Rights Museum, and the Birmingham City Hall, where they met with Mayor Randall Woodfin. The students also visited the National Lynching Memorial and Museum in Montgomery and toured various important landmarks in Selma.

AlabamaGermany Partnership and Honorary Consul Michael Johnson traveled to Miles College to speak before the students. AlabamaGermany Partnership's presentation was delivered by Executive Director Tine Hoffmeister, who spoke about the partnership and the cultural, business, and educational ties between Alabama and Germany. Mr. Johnson spoke about the importance of international cooperation and the need for cultural literacy within the business world.

The 2018 Ambassadors in Sneakers program remained in Alabama until July 30th, when it began its trip to New York City, where the students saw landmarks such as the 9/11 Memorial and the United Nations Headquarters.

Learn more about the Ambassadors in Sneakers Program here.
The Power of German as a Second Language
By J.D. Strickland, Student
The University of Alabama

Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated with movement and transportation technology.  From spinning the wheels on my stroller as an infant to pointing out Porsches and Corvettes at age 2 to reading Chevrolet truck sales brochures as bedtime stories I have always loved cars. Later on in my high school career I made the decision that automotive engineering is my passion, the career that I felt most driven towards. Also in high school, I was exposed to foreign language for the first time. I had an amazing German teacher, Frau Boynton of James Clemens High School, who helped me through my language journey. We attended German day at The University of Alabama, and in her classes I excelled, becoming a member of the National Honors Society for Students of German. At the time, I didn't think much about what benefits this language exposure could bring to me. 

As my senior year progressed, I accepted a full tuition scholarship to The University of Alabama, fully planning on studying Mechanical Engineering and later being accepted into an automotive co-op program sometime around my sophomore or junior year. This plan drastically changed when I received a letter in the mail from UA. This letter was an invitation to apply for UA's Two Steps Ahead program, also known as International German Students Exchange Program (IGSEP). This is a highly selective program in which 100 students per year are selected to apply based on their major and ACT scores, though only 20 of the applicants are selected each year. The program is headed by Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian, professor of Mechanical Engineering at UA and a 38 year veteran of Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart, retiring as vice president of research and advanced engineering. 

The IGSEP program gives me the opportunity to attend Hochschule Esslingen for the fall of 2022, followed by a 6 month internship with either Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, or one of many automotive suppliers within the Stuttgart area. This program requires that I begin taking German classes over the summer in order to accelerate my language learning. Though I credit Frau Boynton with exposing me to German as a second language before this opportunity was ever presented to me. 
The ultimate goal of the IGSEP program is to develop bilingual automotive engineers to help further the development and engineering of the automotive industry within the Southeast United States. And as the only member of this year's program from Alabama, I feel a great sense of pride not only for the industry, but for my local area as well. I'm looking forward to excelling at the academic challenges ahead of me, and I can't wait to see where this opportunity will take me.