The story appears on

Page B1

April 21, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

German Club extends helping hand

IN 1998 the Shanghai German Club started with around 20 families - today it has around 500 families doing charity work, helping newcomers and forming a network for German-speakers. Yao Minji reports.

Ulrike Sohl still remembers visiting 7-year-old Meng He who was recovering from heart surgery that would enable her to lead a normal life. The girl was very weak but smiled as Sohl gave her toys and sweets.

She also painted pictures for the girl from a poor family in Jiangxi Province, who was very happy that she could finally go to school and play with her friends.

Sohl is head of the Shanghai German Club, which financed part of the surgery; financing operations for needy children is one of various charities supported by the German Club.

The club regularly supports seven Chinese charities, including Heart to Heart, which organized Meng's operation; MiFan Mama, or Rice Mother, a group of Shanghai expat women who help an orphanage in Anhui Province; and Shanghai Sunrise, which helps needy people with disabilities.

The club also supports promising young Chinese artists.

The Shanghai German Club, a non-profit organization formed by German expatriates, started in 1998 with around 20 German families and now has almost 500 families - the family is always the basic unit of membership; singles also join.

The membership fee is 300 yuan (US$46) per year per family.

The club contributed to a new school library in Shanghai's Minhang District, financing furnishings and contributing around 1,200 books. At the opening, the pupils sang and danced to show their appreciation.

Scenes like these motivated the German community to contribute more time and funds to help the needy. It's all voluntary and all board members are volunteers. Around 80 percent of membership fees finance charity events.

"We think it is very important to improve education for these children, since they may then be able to lead much better lives than their parents and will also be able to help others," Sohl tells Shanghai Daily.

In addition to its charity work, the club also provides useful information to German newcomers ( German). The club holds monthly meetings for newcomers and posts a monthly, 30-page online newsletter about updated regulations, entertainment, discounts, monthly gatherings around the city, walking tours of the city as well as hiking and biking in nearby areas.

The newsletter reports upcoming club and German community events. It also details spending on charity events.

Since the beginning, the club was mainly formed by women who arrived in Shanghai with their husbands who had been assigned to work in the city.

"It is a social network for German-speaking families. The main target is to bring the partners of expatriates together and to support them in organizing their daily life in Shanghai and to help them find new friends," Sohl says.

Sonja Holstein, the club's public relations and media person, says the group includes young unmarried women who increasingly move to Shanghai. Since many regular members are long-time residents and many of their husbands work for Fortune 500 companies, the club is also an effective networking platform.

Both married men and younger men have started to join recently. Chinese women married to Germans also join to practise their German and get to know the German community.

"It is a great platform for people to keep in contact, get information, meet new friends and get nice group deals," Holstein says.

"It is also a nice volunteer project for our board members, many of whom were professionals before moving to Shanghai, or still are. Now they use their professional skills voluntarily for the club."

For example, Holstein herself has always worked in sales and marketing, and handles those functions for the club. And Simone Schroetter, editor and designer for all club publications including the monthly membership newsletter, was a graphic designer in Germany. The club's popular Travel and Excursion Project is organized by a former travel agent.

Holstein arrived in Shanghai in 2007 and has been active in the club since then. She considers language the biggest difficulty for newcomers and strongly suggests they keep in contact with a Chinese speaker in case of emergencies. It's also important to get a business card for places visited so they can be shown to taxi drivers.

Holstein has also found the Shanghai Hotline 962-288 very useful and strongly recommends it to newcomers.

Shanghai German Club

Tel: 1348-2397-145


website: (in German)


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend