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Interview with the president of the Hessen-Wisconsin Society

Updated: Dec 9, 2022


John Dienhart has been a member of the Hessen-Wisconsin Society for over 25 years and has served as president of the organization since 2019.


Question:

How did you first get involved with the Hessen-Wisconsin Society?

Answer:

Jim Klauser, president of the Hessen Wisconsin Society for a number of years in the early 2000s, recruited me to join the group. I served on the committee that updated the organizations constitution and bylaws.


Question:

What is your connection to Hessen, or Germany in general?

Answer:

Through genealogical research I learned of distant family connections in Northern Hessen, Rhineland Palatinate, and North Rhine-Westphalia. I have corresponded and on several occasions met distant family living along the Mosel River.


Question:

Have you traveled to Hessen?

Answer:

Unfortunately, I have only visited Hessen by driving though or on the ICE (Germany's high speed rail system) and when making travel connections in Frankfurt.


Question:

You’ve been a member of the society for a number of years. How has it changed over that time?

Answer:

When I first joined, a major focus was on supporting the Wisconsin state government’s relations with Hessen by staffing a booth and display at the annual Hessentag, an event similar to Wisconsin's state fair, but it moves from city to city. Whenever Hessen delegations come to visit the state we spread the word and help make introductions. We continue to support activities between our state governments as well as sister-city and sister-county relationships between Hessen and Wisconsin communities.


Question:

What role does the society currently play in relation to those sister-city and sister-county relationships?

Answer:

People working on the local level may not always be aware of other communities that have faced common challenges. Introducing them to their counterparts in other parts of the state creates a network of resources that can provide advise and support. We promote and encourage sister-city and sister-county relationships not only in the Hessen state but recently have expanded to include other similar relationships within other communities and counties in Germany.

Question:

Tell us a little about what you do when you are not promoting greater ties between Wisconsin and Hessen

Answer:

I am semiretired working part time as needed as a field service engineer. I am also a board member with Goethe House of Wisconsin, another German-related cultural organization. I co-administrate both groups' Facebook pages.

Question:

How can interested individuals get involved in the Hessen-Wisconsin Society?

Answer:

We're always looking for new members with fresh ideas. Contact info is below. You can also check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hessenwisconsinsociety/.


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