This semester I entered my fourth year at the University of Oklahoma and my fourth year as a member of the OU German Club. Throughout the school year, the club promotes foreign language engagement and department familiarity with a variety of community events. One of my personal favorites is the Großer Stammtisch.
While the club hosts weekly gatherings to practice German conversational skills, the Großer Stammtisch is an annual excuse for all of the teachers, grad students, majors, and minors to join under one roof. This past fall, the German Club met at Blackbird on Campus Corner to mingle over food and drinks. Having taken several German classes, I was familiar with many of the students and professors who attended, but it was also a wonderful opportunity to meet younger students and international students with whom I had not yet crossed paths.
Across long tables, the club members chattered in a mixture of English and German in order to accommodate the varying skill levels across the room. Although this particular Stammtisch was primarily organized as a social gathering, it also provided a forum for individuals to share their experiences with German language and culture. Students returned from an education abroad program were able to discuss their observations with teachers and international students who had lived in a German-speaking country. Students fresh to the German department, and to OU, were able to learn about German-language opportunities from the individuals who promoted or directed those programs.
When I was a freshman, I relied heavily on my professors and classmates for ways to sharpen my German skills. With the help of those discussions, I was able to select a language immersion program that fit my needs and drastically improved my speaking and listening skills. Through club events such as this Großer Stammtisch, I am able to pass down my experience to students younger than I am who are just as lost as I was and need just as much information and advice as I did.