Rheinland-Pfalz survey aims to help Americans navigate life in Germany
By JENNIFER H. SVAN AND MARCUS KLOECKNER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 15, 2021
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — U.S. personnel and their families living in Rheinland-Pfalz can participate this month in a state-funded survey intended to help Americans adjust to life in Germany.
Americans on or off base may participate in the U.S. military-approved, anonymous online questionnaire through April 25, said John Constance, manager of “Welcome to Rheinland-Pfalz! Our neighbors from the USA.”
The welcome project was formed in 2014 to connect Americans and Germans.
The pandemic has “put a strain on everybody,” Constance said, and has made it difficult for Americans to feel like part of their communities. That’s especially true for recent arrivals who haven’t been to a festival or participated in typical German experiences.
“We’re looking to gather data on what American families strive to do during their time in Germany as well as their wishes and needs,” he said.
Respondents are asked to “tell us what they need in a ‘normal setting,’” Constance said, disregarding temporary lockdown restrictions, so the project can offer services once the pandemic is over.
The survey contains 21 questions and takes a few minutes to complete. One question asks what respondents are interested in doing in Germany, and includes multiple-choice answers such as improving German language skills, attending events, volunteering and interacting with locals.
Some questions seek a written response, such as one that asks what services or events would have made it easier to settle into local life.
Common challenges Americans face in Germany include the recycling system, cultural differences and finding information, Constance said.
Respondents don’t have to provide their name or street address, but they can opt to list their city or village so participation can be gauged and specific issues can be identified, Constance said.
Rheinland-Pfalz has the largest U.S. presence of Germany’s 16 federal states, with tens of thousands of service members and their families at Ramstein Air Base, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz, Spangdahlem Air Base and other installations.
There are 37 municipalities participating in the initiative. They list information in English on the program’s website, where a link to the survey is available.