Discovering German Heritage – Marquette Wire

Language club invites students from all walks of life to discover Milwaukee’s roots

When Anthony Vanderheyden, a fluent German-speaking senior at the College of Business Administration, lived in Germany for a year, he connected with people in ways that wouldn’t be possible.

“I think the best way to learn the language is to surround yourself with it and keep making mistakes until you learn to express yourself properly,” Vanderheyden said.

German Club tries to make this immersion possible by inviting students from all walks of life to join a community of German speakers and culture enthusiasts.

Although fluency is not a requirement in the club, having an open mind and a positive, ready-to-learn attitude is the best way to prepare for club meetings.

German Club is only one year old, but is ready to make its mark on campus.

“I think (the club) is going to take off,” said Jessica Brown, a freshman at the College of Arts and Sciences and secretary of the German Club. “If we keep going in that direction where we’re doing outings and making it more interesting than sitting in a classroom, I think it can become something really popular, especially because Milwaukee has a strong German heritage.”

Brown took German lessons for a year and being part of the club only made him appreciate the culture more.

The German club has a subgroup called German Discussion Group, which is led by Vanderheyden. While regular club meetings are held on Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m., the discussion group meets on Wednesdays in the Lalumière room. The chat group plays games, such as German Monopoly and Cards Against Humanity.

Anna Reistad, sophomore at the College of Arts and Sciences and president of

Discussion group activities include games such as German Monopoly or Cards Against Humanity. Photo by Jennifer Walter [email protected]

German club, has German grandparents. One of his goals is to facilitate conversation in German with his family.

“We have a community of students who wouldn’t normally meet connecting via German at Marquette,” Reistad said. “I hope more students will join (the club) and learn more about it.”

Stammtisch, an informal gathering where students can practice German and discuss German culture and other topics, is a feature of club meetings. Vanderheyden often plays modern German music during group discussions to liven up the atmosphere.

“With the Stammtisch I think we all came together as a club,” Brown said.

German Club also shows students a taste of German heritage in Milwaukee.

“Sometimes we go to a few bars downtown. They offer free meat and cheese platters for all guests, and you can speak German with people in Milwaukee who know or are learning German,” Vanderheyden said.

Valhalla is a German-Norwegian bar in Milwaukee where the club has been on trips.

“I know some (of the food) was provided through Userger’s famous sausage,” Brown said. “I love Usinger’s and it was really cool to practice my German while meeting some nice local people.”