German Club celebrates culture at Oktoberfest to kick off campus programming

Media Credit: Jennifer Igbonoba | Photographer

Heard said the annual autumnal celebration of Oktoberfest in Potomac Square was an “ambitious” program and will help the club gain visibility among the student body in its first year back on campus.

A club dedicated to sharing German culture and language kicked off its semester of events on campus with an Oktoberfest celebration Sunday.

Student leaders said GW German Club, also known as GW Deutscher Kulturverein, has accumulated more than 70 members since its first meeting last month and plans to hold events for students to engage with German culture and meet other students who are interested in the culture throughout the year. They said professors in the German department approached students studying the language in the spring to revive the German Club after it dissolved in recent years.

They said more than 40 students attended the club’s first meeting, and members plan on hosting events this semester like a German language night, where students can speak to one another in German, a German trivia night and more general body meetings.

Junior Walker Heard, the president of the German Club, said the student organization’s goals include offering a tour of the German embassy and hosting a joint meeting with American University’s German club. He said the German department encouraging students to join helped with recruitment, and the turnout for their first meeting was “way more” than what he was expecting.

“I hope they see the German club as a place where everyone, no matter if you’re German or not, can come in and have fun,” he said.

Heard said the annual autumnal celebration of Oktoberfest in Potomac Square Sunday was an “ambitious” program and will help the club gain visibility among the student body.

“Right now it’s midterm season,” he said. “I really wanted to provide a way to be able to just take a break and relax and have a good time.”

More than 50 students attended Oktoberfest, where the German Club served traditional German food like bratwurst and pretzels, catered by European restaurant Old Europe. Student groups who performed at the event included a cappella group GW Vibes, Balance Dance Group and the GW Jazz Orchestra. Student organizations also like Archery Club and Chess Club hosted tables at the event.

Senior Ziming Wang, the events organizer of the German Club, said student organizations like the Student Association, the Armenian Student Association and the Hawaii Club co-sponsored the event with funding and sent club representatives to attend Oktoberfest. He said the co-sponsors also played a role in promoting Oktoberfest to their members.

Junior Eugenie Pflieger volunteered at Oktoberfest after attending the first German Club meeting and helped arrange the tables and catering at the event.

“I think Oktoberfest is important because, like every culture, they have a big celebration where it brings people together,” she said. “And Oktoberfest brings people together.”

Senior Shannon Sutherland, the vice president of the German Club, said she was one of the members who founded the club last spring, and the Oktoberfest event marked a restoration of a GW tradition in Foggy Bottom – the first was held in 2010. She said student leaders spoke with the previous German Club president for advice on running a cultural club, and they donated supplies for events like German flags, tape and other decorations.

“They’ve been really helpful for us, people that were involved in the former club, even though I couldn’t exactly tell you how similar we are to what they were doing at the time,” she said.

Sutherland said the club hosted a fundraiser selling spaghettieis, a German ice cream sundae, in Kogan Plaza earlier this month to raise money for Oktoberfest. She said they have spent the past month reaching out to food vendors and recruiting students to help volunteer for the event.

“I think one of our goals is to just make a really good impression on the student body and have everybody have a really good time and just enjoy themselves, enjoy the food,” she said.

Freshman Mark Rappaport, the first-year representative of the club and a sports reporter for The Hatchet, said his family carries German heritage, which pushed him to attend the first meeting. He said his biggest responsibility on the executive board is to publicize events, like the Oktoberfest celebration, on the club’s Instagram page.

“I want to enjoy the club, make friends,” he said. “I think that’s the main point of clubs. And that definitely goes for our club as well.”

Sofia Alva contributed reporting. 

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