InterNations Founder and CEO Malte Zeeck tells us all about his recent visit to the InterNations Frankfurt Community.
It has been a while since I last visited Frankfurt, either the city in general or the InterNations Community in particular. Now, however, I am comfortably seated in an ICE train on the way to Frankfurt Central Station, together with our team member Katie from the Ambassadors & Events department, whose job it is to look after the Frankfurt Local Community. The high-speed train connection takes us to our destination in only three hours.
As a center for international business and finance, Frankfurt is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Germany. About one third of its residents don’t have the German nationality, and people from 180 different countries live in the Frankfurt metropolitan area. No wonder that Frankfurt is one of our top Local Communities, with over 8,700 InterNations members!
An Italian Lunch with Alessio
Upon arriving in Frankfurt, Katie and I meet one of our current InterNations Frankfurt Ambassadors for lunch. Alessio comes from picturesque Palermo. After living in Copenhagen, Shanghai, and Luxembourg as an expat, he eventually exchanged sunny Sicily for Frankfurt’s colder climate. Here, he works as a Marketing & Sales Manager for the German HQ of Italian confectionary manufacturer Ferrero (known as the inventor of Nutella cream and Kinder chocolate eggs).
Our lunch meeting takes place at a lovely Italian ristorante in Sachsenhausen, one of Frankfurt’s southern neighborhoods along the River Main. The Casa Isoletta is rustic and yet sophisticated, and the pasta dish with truffles is indeed delicious. Over lunch, Alessio tells us more about his experience as an Ambassador for the huge Frankfurt Community, and then it’s already time for our next appointments.
More Meetings with Ambassadors
In the afternoon, we first have a chat with three former InterNations Ambassadors from the Frankfurt Community before we meet up with Laura and Slobodan – another Frankfurt Ambassador and the InterNations Ambassador of our nearby Wiesbaden-Mainz Community, respectively. Unfortunately, Ulrike, the third Frankfurt Ambassador, has a full schedule today, but we hope that we’ll get to know her on another occasion.
Laura was born in India, grew up in Paris, lived in the United States for a little while, and then worked in Berlin. It was only last year that she moved to Frankfurt, to start a new job as a Credit Risk Manager in the chemical industry. Slobodan, on the other hand, has been living in Germany for about 15 years now. Originally from Serbia, he has a Ph.D. in bio-chemistry, and his work in the bio-technology sector prompted him to move away from home for international research.
The InterNations Frankfurt Newcomers Group
Together, Laura and Slobodan have put Laura’s idea for newly arrived expatriates into practice. They are the two Local Consuls of the InterNations Frankfurt Newcomers Group. The purpose of this Activity Group is to make it easier for new InterNations members to make friends among the large Frankfurt Community and to make them feel more welcome in their new home. So, there is an extra mini-reception for “newbies”, about one and a half hours before the start of the official InterNations January Event at the Frankfurt SKY Club.
100 guests from a variety of nations – e.g. France, India, Italy, Romania, Russia, Turkey, the UK, Ukraine, the US, and more – have signed up for the meeting. They get a warm welcome from Laura and Slobodan, who bring them up to speed on InterNations and our various activities for expats and global minds in the Frankfurt area.
I also enjoy the opportunity to introduce the mission and vision of InterNations and especially to promote the InterNations Charity Empowerment Program: We are still looking for Charity Group Consuls in Frankfurt, to organize a similar project like, for instance, that of the InterNations Munich Charity Group, which supports a local home for refugees and asylum seekers.
When the official part of the reception is over, the guests start introducing themselves individually. It soon becomes obvious that a lot of them are indeed new in town and don’t know many people around here. “Frankfurt doesn’t like me yet,” one member summarizes their shared predicament.
However, when some “veterans” of the Frankfurt Community present the Activity Groups they are involved in – and there are plenty in the Frankfurt region – this helps to quickly break the ice. When the regular InterNations Event starts around 8 pm, dozens of members are already mingling and chatting in an animated fashion.
The InterNations Frankfurt January Event
At the main event, around 400 people from 60 countries are in attendance, and the venue is filling up quickly. As mentioned above, the get-together takes place at the legendary SKY Club, a stylish location in central Frankfurt, whose three bars are a well-known fixture of the city’s nightlife. As the room begins to get crowded, Katie and I are circulating to meet and greet the guests. I spot plenty of familiar faces, even members from other InterNations Communities who have come to Frankfurt specifically for this event.
Again, I seize the opportunity to address a few words to the InterNations Community, and when I talk to individual members during the evening, I receive plenty of helpful feedback on our network and various activities. Frankfurt is really a very active and lively Local Community, and it’s great to see how our members take the initiative and share the spirit of InterNations. A heart-felt “thank you” to all our Ambassadors in the Frankfurt area, to all our Group Consuls, and everyone who has supported the InterNations Community here!
Lufthansa: Our Global Airline Partner
On the next day, another appointment keeps me in Frankfurt, but this time, it has more of a distinct business character. Frankfurt also houses a major corporate office of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the company which has been our exclusive Global Airline Partner for over three years. Their recurring special offer is very popular among our member base. Lufthansa offers discounts on international flight tickets to our members, many of whom consider it the global expat airline nowadays.
At our meeting, we discuss some ideas for our partnership, with the aim of providing the InterNations members with more Lufthansa “goodies” in the future. For instance, access to the Lufthansa Lounges at various airport terminals is much coveted, and Lufthansa now offers live TV on lots of flights, e.g. for major sports events like soccer, tennis, and Formula 1. Maybe we’ll find something to inspire us…
When my meeting at Lufthansa is over, it’s back to Munich after 24 very exciting hours in Frankfurt!
(Photocredit: 1) Sunset over Frankfurt (Main) by Wikimedia Commons user Suburbia 2) Malte Zeeck/InterNations 3) Silke Schaefer 4) SKY Club Frankfurt 5) Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 takes off at Frankfurt Airport by Wikimedia Commons User Lasse Fuss)