FORT BELVOIR, Virginia –
At times, the English words didn’t come easily, but saying “Auf wiedersehen, danke schön” in his native language came naturally and understood as “good bye, thank you” to his American colleagues.
Defense Logistics Agency Energy bid farewell to German-native Career Management Specialist Stefan Weingart Aug. 14 as his one-year, Air Force sponsored, foreign exchange assignment comes to an end.
“I remember my first day in the United States when I drove down the street to my beautiful property in Silver Spring, Maryland, and I will never forget the first day at DLA Energy where they welcomed me with a birthday cake and song,” he said to attendees at his farewell.
Weingart’s sponsors set the stage for his German-American, DLA Energy experience. DLA Energy Acquisition Workforce Development and Intern Center Division Chief Ditu Kasuyi, DLA Energy Career Management Specialist Phyllis Webster-Trombley and DLA Energy Career Management Specialist Marybeth Sandman created a welcoming environment that left a lasting impression on him, Weingart said.
“He asked a lot of great questions that made us think about our processes,” Kasuyi said during the small, farewell ceremony. “He hit the ground running. He spent his days working on analytics, excel spreadsheets and our intern support center.”
The whole team will miss him, he was a valued asset to our division, he said.
Weingart thanked his mentors and presented them with German mementos in appreciation for their support and friendship.
“They have been great mentors, always open to questions and helpful in uncertain situations,” he said. “They responded in a decent, light-hearted manner, to show that this is a good (fun) place to work.”
In turn, he also left his mark on DLA Energy.
“Stefan was a pleasure to work with. His warm personality and enthusiasm to learn the DLA mission was exciting to have on the team,” Webster-Trombley said.
“I enjoyed working with him,” Sandman said. “He came in with a great attitude and was eager to learn and take in as much as he could. But for everything he took in, he made sure he imparted just as much information on us.”
Weingart credits the two offices he worked with, DLA Energy Procurement Process Support Directorate and DLA Energy Bulk Petroleum Division, in expanding his contracting functions and solicitations, and teaching him to overcome bureaucratic challenges along the way.
Bulk Petroleum teammates are sad to see him leave. He was a natural fit for the team, they said.
“Stefan and I struck a deal to help each other with our languages (even if he didn’t need it),” said Norma Birch, DLA Energy Bulk Petroleum contract specialist. “He and I would speak to each other in German so that I would not lose the little German that I still remember; and in turn, I would let him know if he made any grammatical errors while speaking English.”
“Auf Wiedersehen und vielen dank; ich hoffe, dich wieder zu treffen,” Birch said to Weingart, – which translates to good bye and thank you; I hope to meet again.
DLA Energy Bulk Petroleum Products Division Chief Chris Boeding said he remembers eating lunch with him on his first day and telling him that Americans like food.
“On his last day, as we were eating lunch, I told Stefan he didn’t look like he put on any weight during the past year, and Stefan replied that he gained about 12 pounds ... gotta love America,” Boeding said.
Weingart said he is particularly thankful for DLA Energy leadership’s support of the exchange program.
“This is the second German-exchange partnership at DLA Energy and hopefully not the last,” he said. “In closing, I echo a couple I met upon arriving to America ‘Auf wiedersehen, friends forever.’”