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President Michael D. Higgins of Ireland Applauds the Work of FAWCO

Report from the 2012 FAWCO Global Conference in Dublin

I had the great honor of attending the 2012 FAWCO Global Conference in March in Dublin, accompanied by Janet Davis, Tricia Saur, Stacey Kimmig, Robin Rose, Patti Sharpe, Julie Benders, and Tracie Mayer. The conference offered a jam-packed four days of workshops, seminars, networking, and inspiration. If you’ve  never attended a FAWCO conference, maybe you’ll consider joining us next year in Bern, Switzerland.

In Dublin, we were graced by the presence of Michael D Higgins, the current President of Ireland. He entered the General Assembly with FAWCO President My-Linh Kunst—former AIWCC member—at his side. I felt a surge of Cologne pride as I watched our very own MLK take the stage with a world leader, the flags of Ireland and the USA serving as a colorful backdrop for their joint appearance.

President Higgins said clubs like ours are an example of foreigners thriving by following in the footsteps of those who arrived before them. He said: "That all of you do this voluntarily means you see the tremendous value in not only helping newcomers but in advocating for the women in your new communities and around the world.” Dr. Mary Henry, a former Irish Senator, spoke eloquently about women’s health issues, including alcoholism, smoking, and obesity. “Ladies,” she said, talking about the dangers of Type 2 Diabetes, “Blubber has a life of its own.”

High as we were from listening to President Higgins and Dr. Henry, workshops on taxation and banking brought us crashing down to earth as we learned more about financial difficulties for American women living abroad. In another session domestic violence and its consequences were explored in a panel discussion that included members of the “Stop the Violence—Ireland” campaign.

Workshops of a lighter nature included subjects like creative writing for expats, cultural identity for kids, and education for children who learn differently. We had wonderful info-sharing opportunities over dinner at Jameson’s Whiskey Distillery and Dublin Castle. The FAWCO Foundation dinner and auction on Friday night raised $30,000 in a few short hours—money that will be used to support the FAWCO Development Grants and Education Awards.

This will be my last column as your FAWCO Rep. Tricia Saur will be taking charge in June, and I hope you’ll support her as she continues to wave the FAWCO flag. Thank you for allowing me to serve you over the past two and a half years. I’m sliding over to the Parliamentarian chair, but my heart will always be with FAWCO. Once you catch the fever, there’s no going back. Grab the torch, Tricia, and run with it! All the way to Switzerland.

Please visit www.FAWCO.org for more information.

Submitted to her club by FAWCO Rep, Robin Meloy Goldsby

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