Over the past 12 years, a dedicated group of German expats and German-Canadians established a growing network in Toronto that offers opportunities to come together, connect, and combine cultures.

A planner at heart and by trade, Jule Lorenz-Elliot has devoted hundreds of hours over the past five years founding the network German Mamas and Papas in Toronto. The group has become a substantial part of the German-Canadian community in Ontario’s capital.

The studied architect originally joined the online meetup group GermansinToronto in 2012This group meets to expand their language skills, stay connected to the culture of their family, and learn more about Germany.

As a first-time mother back then, Jule saw an opportunity to enrich the group with meetups for parents only.

“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or even lost at times,” she says. “Everything is new, and you don’t always really know what you’re doing in the beginning. And if you’re also living abroad and things are different compared to your home country, then you’re longing for this sense of Zuhause, this feeling of home and familiarity.”

Kinds are playing with their parents

In 2012, she set up a Facebook group and a kick-off meeting at a café. About 15 parents arrived with their children – and returned for future coffee dates. Inspired by the enthusiasm of the other parents, Jule organized summer gatherings in the park and the Singkreis. Every Wednesday morning, parents and their toddlers come together to sing German children songs. It’s a playful way of introducing the next generation to their family roots and the traditions their parents had grown up with.

“The Internet is great for sharing information,” she says. “But courses and groups are there to meet people. To have this connection and to speak your language once a week.”

Conversations with members of the German-Canadian community always spark new project concepts. When planning additional activities, she reflects on her family’s situation first. How are her children developing? What opportunities could enhance their development in certain phases? Keeping in mind that other families could have similar needs or wishes to instill a better sense of the German language and culture in their children, Jule reaches out to the online community.

 

It’s always worth to share ideas and to reach out to other families to see if they might be interested. You can achieve so much if you just try.

Over the past years, Jule has coordinated meetups such as painting classes, fitness workouts, and German courses for adults. Members of the community volunteer as teachers, moderators, and fitness coach. Early in 2017, Jule reached out to the German Mamas and Papas in Toronto, which as a network has grown over the yearsShe had an idea for a weekly afterschool German class for children. Parents replied with great interest and one mother who is also a teacher with experience in immersion learning volunteered to teach. The German International School Toronto offered a room within the school building for the Deutsch AG (Read more about it next week!).

“Everything came together quite nicely, which made me very happy. It also showed that it’s always worth to share ideas and to reach out to other families to see if they might be interested. You can achieve so much if you just try.”

Besides her volunteer work, Jule compiled “five years of cumulated experience” in an almost 30-page-long collection of tips and tricks that she offers as a handbook or in combination with a welcome seminar to newcomers.

“It’s a great feeling to know I was able to help somebody else. I had to collect all this information on my own when I moved to Toronto and became a mother. It’s nice to see how others can connect faster, feel welcome, find friends, and get to know the city better.”

Read more about Germans in Toronto in our first part here. 


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