A comfortable atmosphere, delicious food and each other is all the ladies in the Killeen-Fort Hood area from the German spouse club need to enjoy their monthly lunch meeting. The group gives them the opportunity to easily connect and make friends in a country far from home.
The group originally started almost three years ago at the Oveta Culp Hobby Soldier & Family Readiness Center on Fort Hood.
“We started with a once-a-month meeting on post but we had a lot of non-military Germans from the area who wanted to attend so we decided to do one off post meeting a month as well,” said Tamara Watson, one of the founders of the group.
Now interested participants can connect with fellow Germans every other Tuesday, either on post in the TJ Mills Food court playland or off post at one of the many restaurants in the Killeen area.
“The on-post meeting is a breakfast meeting and it starts at 9:30 a.m.,” Watson said. “The off-post meeting is a lunch time meeting and starts at 11 a.m..”
The group meets at various restaurants to discover what the local cuisine has to offer. To get together over a good meal and take some time to enjoy it is one of the most important aspects of German life.
“Germans love their coffee and cake, they love to get together for barbecues, they love to just hang out and enjoy their food,” Watson said. “Just to go to a restaurant and actually be able to sit for a while and not to get the check when you are just half way done with your meal.”
But it is not always easy to find a good location that allows a get-together with “gemütlichkeit” — a German word that means friendliness.
“That’s what most Germans miss from Germany,” Watson said. “We try to choose restaurants with larger dining areas where we can sit for a while because there is just always so much we want to talk about and share.”
What started as a place to connect with fellow Germans, turned into an occasion to make friends for life.
Jenny Gibbs has been in Killeen since July 2017 and immediately connected with fellow Germans through the group’s Facebook page.
“I wanted to find an easy connection with people over here,” said Gibbs, who didn’t know anyone locally before moving to the Fort Hood area.
The group has made her first time being away from home a lot easier for her.
“It’s really nice because you meet a lot of people you can relate to and that understand your situation,” she said. “And you can share experiences that you both make over here.”
Gibbs attends the lunch meetings with her two sons Bryson, 3, and 5-month-old Ben. She likes that they don’t only have the opportunity to make new friends but also learn their mother’s language in a foreign country.
“They have to speak English on a daily basis so hanging out with German kids gives them the opportunity to practice the language,” she said.
Speaking their native language isn’t only important for the children.
“We hear a lot that people don’t speak their native language for a while and that it gets a little rusty so everybody loves to be able to talk in German and meet new friends,” Watson said.
Sandra Ortiz has been in the area for more than a year but just recently found the German group on Facebook.
“Speaking German is really important to me because you can express yourself better and really show your personality,” she said. “Everyone here knows what it really means when you say certain things.”
Although Fort Hood is not her first duty station stateside, she has not been part of a German spouse group before. She recommends everyone to go on Facebook and look for groups with common interests.
“I didn’t know anybody, and it was really hard to make any contact,” Ortiz said. “The group is one of the best things that happened to me so I really recommend to look it up and make some friends.”
The next lunch meeting will be held today at Acropolis in Harker Heights.
The group can be found on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/groups/1484304778545922/?tn-str=*F