German club regains its footing

Mal Hartigan

Club thrives despite prior setbacks

German club, a weekly discussion group where students practice and gain exposure to the German language, recently re-established itself as a valid campus organization.

Because of unfiled paperwork for the Office of Student Involvement, the club lost recognition as a legitimate group. Through the efforts of club president Julie Bates and German professors Tanya Kelley and Dr. Scott Baker, German club was reinstated as a student organization.

“At the end of last semester, Dr. Baker asked me to help reinstate the club in order to co-sponsor the KC German Film Festival with the Hannover Sister Cities Committee,” Bates said.

The club was quick to regain footing; its a unique and fun experience and serves as a method for students to expand their knowledge of the language and the culture.

A topic is selected in advance for each week’s hour-long discussion at 7 p.m on Wednesdays. The location varies depending on the selected topic, which is then discussed in German with minimal English.

This helps expose first-year students to the language conversationally.

Club member James Teuscher, a first-year German student, said speaking only German can be daunting but doesn’t discourage his participation.

“Speaking in only German with the other students is very intimidating,” he said. “However, they all know that I am a beginner and need to practice. I bring my German-to-English dictionary to all the meetings or if I just ask for help someone knows the German word. I feel as welcomed in the group as anyone else so it’s great.”

Teuscher is also interested in German club because it can be offered as an honors credit.

Kelley, German instructor and a leading figurehead of German club, explained several potential themes for club members.

“Music, current events, movies and poems have all been topics for discussion,” Kelley said.

Last week, the club met at Miller Nichols Library to chat about German music, utilizing the sound archive for a hands-on experience with German records from classical German composers.

For a change of pace, Kelley also suggested new ideas.

“The discussion group also convenes for a cooking session, an event met with great approval,” Kelley said. “A meal from a German-speaking country is prepared and eaten together at one of the member’s homes.”

This provides club members with opportunity to practice the language while experiencing authentic German recipes.

Bates said she has high hopes for the German Film Festival.

“It is a great opportunity for students to get involved in the community and learn more about German film,” Bates said. “The Committee has even agreed to let a UMKC student give a short introduction to each of the three films: ‘The Lives of Others,’ ‘Run, Lola, Run’ and ‘The Death in Venice.’”

Another option for Germanspeaking students is Stammtisch, which promotes fluency in an informal setting. This semester, it is organized by Courtney Neaveill.

“Stammtisch meets at a pub or café once a month,” Kelley said.

Students, professors or anyone interested in brushing up on the language can attend.

“Some UMKC students who have studied in a German-speaking country attend,” Kelley said. “They bring current cultural information into the conversation and provide a direct source of information for students who are also considering studying abroad.”

She noted the success at last month’s Stammtisch.

“We almost entirely took over Pizza 51,” Kelley said. “The conversation ranged from knitting, to Kant’s categorical imperative, to beer brewing, to the latest slang. People milled around from one conversation to another and sometimes slipped in and out of English when needed.”

Interested students can contact Bates or Kelley for information about the next discussion group or Stammtisch.

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