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SALZBURG GROUP HISTORY AND BACKGROUND

ROSWITHA SCHWIEFERT - PRESIDENCY 1997 -2003

The foundation of our Salzburg women’s circle dates back to 1996. My schoolfriend Hannelore Fiedler was asked by the then-president of the circle in Frascati Maria Fausta Ricci Roncoroni if she could imagine founding a women’s group in Salzburg. (Hannelore Fiedler was an au-pair with Maria Fausta about 30 years ago and they kept in touch). In 1996/1997 Hannelore Fiedler and I were invited to Frascati with members of the other circles and therefore had an opportunity to find out more about the backgrounds of the 5 circles. We were very taken with the idea of being able to contribute to European peace and friendship between some European countries and thus arranged a meeting for interested ladies from our circle of friends. Eleven ladies came who are still members of our group.

On October 7, 1997 the organization of the founding procedure was well under way and therefore we were able to constitute our society with 20 members. I was elected president of the Salzburg women’s circle, Hannelore vice-president. The information regarding our foundation was sent to all other circles.

One of the difficulties of the acceptance of the Salzburg circle  was that, contrary to the other groups, we were not allied by any twinning arrangement – therefore we had to take great pains to convince the other groups to welcome and accept us. In September 1998 we invited all presidents and vice-presidents to Salzburg to get to know our circle better. The well-known Austrian warmth helped overcome many obstacles.

At the 7th Congress at Bad Godesberg in May 1999 the Salzburg circle was accepted as associated member. President Marlies Schmidtmann wrote, “We warmly welcome the Salzburg circle “and all presidents signed. We were very motivated, worked hard, compiled programs with different cultural aspects and enlarged our activities by offering courses in French and Italian. Although there were only 30 members in those years, we invited 10 ladies from one of the other circles every year to Salzburg.

As a result of my professional as a teacher I was not able to participate every year in the visits which is a prerequisite for a president. Therefore I resigned as president in 2003. Elfi Faber was unanimously elected president, Ilse Walzel remained vice-president.

Together with many enthusiastic friends I was able to lay the foundation stone for the Salzburg circle. I may say that the seed has come up and that leaves me happy and satisfied. May many more ladies in our circle experience good talks, friendship and therefore increase their personal experiences.

ELFRIEDE FABER - PRESIDENCY 2003 – 2010

When I became president of the Salzburg circle in 2003, the committee and I acknowledged the urgency of changing the organization and internal communication of the circle to electronic data processing. Apart from the monthly meetings, talks and discussions, we set up a “reading circle” for the fans of literature; to improve our language skills we started French and Italian courses; to interrupt the long summer holidays (July/August) we initiated family hiking days where all family members could take part. These activities enjoy great popularity and are now an essential part of our club life.

Since we were only loosely associated with the circles of Belgium, Germany, England, France and Italy we aimed at being integrated as a full member, although the Salzburg circle was not in the capital (or in its immediate surroundings) and we were also not twinned with any of the other circles. In 2004 at the European Congress of the Women’s circles in Maidenhead, England,  we were finally accepted as 6th member of the European association. Since that time we also regularly take part in the annual rota of visits, where 12 to 14 delegates from one of the circles are hosted by families of one of the other circles for a few days, to get to know the respective country and its people better.

I was fortunate to officially meet the presidents and members of the other 5 European circles more often, because the 40-year anniversaries of the circles were celebrated in the years of my presidency.

In 2007 we organized for our Salzburg circle a visit (lasting several days) to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, where among other activities we were received by the head of the Austrian delegation. By contacting the representative of Lithuania we tried to establish a connection with women of Vilnius – Vilnius is a twin-town of Salzburg – to found another women’s circle there. Together with our vice-president I also travelled to Vilnius, where we were most kindly received, but the foundation of a circle failed because of differing ideas.

In 2007 a meeting of the all presidents took place in Frascati near Rome, to prepare the European Congress in 2010. During this congress the joint charter of 1974, written in French, was translated in English and adapted to today’s needs. The collaboration of our circle, the “youngest” member, was very important in shedding unnecessary weight stemming from the past and inserting new aspects.

A very pleasant development regarding the numbers of members took place between 2003 and 2010. When my successor took over, we counted 54 members of our circle; 54 women with different interests and talents; 54 European women looking beyond borders and crossing borders!

 
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