Coffee and cake with Parkland’s German Club

 

Jose Alzaibar

Staff Writer

The Parkland College German Club has been around for more than 30 years, which makes it one of the oldest active clubs on campus.

Eva Frayne has been a member of the club since it first started, and she is still an active member today. She has been here at Parkland since the college first opened its doors to the public. She explained that there was once a time when there wasn’t a German Club here on campus.

“I was there. I was at Parkland on day 1 in 1967,” Frayne said. “But for the first ten or so years we did not have a German Club. In 1977 the president of student government was in one of the German classes and with his help we founded the German Club.”

The club currently boasts more than a dozen members, who meet every Monday at 12 p.m. in the Speech Lab located in the D Wing. They practice conversing in German, and share German foods such as Pumpernickel Bread with bratwurst, pickles, and German cookies known as “doppelkeks”.

According to the President of the club, Ron Coffel, students don’t have to speak German to become a member.

“Everyone is invited to join, or just sit down and have lunch with us for a day,” Coffel said.

This semester is special for the club because two of the members are actually German exchange students; Raphael Berding and Leif Steen.

“Both of them have added an even more authentic feel to the club. We’re definitely speaking and hearing more German at our meetings more often now,” Coffel added.

Every year the club has a sale of authentic German chocolate and bread to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall. The club was active at the time the wall fell, and Frayne actually had the opportunity to visit Germany a couple of months prior to the event.

“I was there in April. Nobody could conceive of such a thing happening, Honecker, the East Germany Head of State, that same year had said that the wall would stand for another hundred years. A couple of months later in 1989 it fell,” Frayne said.

While Frayne was never personally affected by the wall, it was still a sensitive issue for every German. She still remembers where she was when she found out.

“I was here in Urbana when somebody came and told me ‘they’re tearing down the wall.’ I couldn’t believe it!” Frayne recalled.

Parkland’s German Club has held a small get-together on the date of the event since the wall fell. If they can’t meet on the exact date they try to set a time close to the actual date. The club invites everyone to join them for traditional “Kaffe und Kuchen”, which translates to “coffee and cake” in English. Besides the social aspect of the meeting, many historical and cultural facts about Germany and the Berlin Wall are discussed.

Students that have seen the club’s poster advertising their yearly “Kaffe und Kuchen” event may have noticed that the picture featured in it actually has Berlin divided in four instead of two. That is because, contrary to popular belief, Berlin’s West side was actually divided in three, one side French, one side British, and one American.

Students interested in learning more about Germany, whether it is the language, history, music, or culture should definitely pay the German club a visit. Students are always welcome to join their yearly meeting commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall as well.