German-American Community Office celebrates 5 years

Compiled Story and photo by Senior Airman Melissa Sheffield
435th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

***image1***The German-American Community Office is celebrating its fifth anniversary Tuesday.
The office, located across from the city hall in Kaiserslautern, has established itself as the contact point for all questions pertaining to members of different nations living together.

Bilingual assistants, representing the American military community and the City of Kaiserslautern have responded to more than 13,000 requests during the last five years.

GACO is set up as an international drop-in point catering to both German and American citizens. English and German-speaking employees offer information required by American citizens who have recently arrived in Kaiserslautern to help them settle quickly into their new community.

The staff assists in handling administrative matters or provides recreational information. Services, such as linguistic support, will also be offered to Americans who have been living in Kaiserslautern for a longer period and need assistance.
“In short, the city embraces its U.S. residents, and wants to offer them thorough, competent service throughout their stay,” said Sissi Kösling, GACO staff member.
Daily topics at the GACO office range from bill interpretation to international marriage.

“Everyone’s questions are welcomed here and all our services are free,” said Elke Sittel, another GACO employee.

Questions from German citizens concerning German-American relations and matters will also be answered.

“Fortunately, there are many clubs, friendship associations and other groups in the area that have already committed themselves to foster the German-American partnership,” said Mrs. Sittel.

In the community office, they have the opportunity to advertise their activities. This also applies to companies offering special services to American citizens. Hence, GACO can be considered as a market place, where supply and demand for information and interaction are easily brought together.

The GACO staff also hosts special events throughout the year. They sponsor a day of performances during Kaiserslautern’s Christmas market or “GACO on tour,” where they provide needful information at different locations in the city such as the Kaiserslautern Garden Fair.

During the USO orientation tours on Fridays, military newcomers receive briefings on relevant topics ranging from host nation regulations to information on German-American clubs at the GACO facility.

“GACO gave a lot of useful information that will enrich our stay in Germany,” said Annika Pears, wife of Maj. Scott Pears.

GACO is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday. For details, call the GACO at 0631-363-3010, e-mail, or log on to their Web site at