German culture night breaks down stereotypes


German Culture Night held Tuesday at the Memorial Union. Photo submitted.

Aside from a few world history classes, it can be difficult for students to find opportunities to learn about other cultures from around the globe.

UND has made an effort to educate students on foreign cultures this year through their series of Culture Nights — events that profile a specific country and teach attendees about its history and various cultural differences.

This past Thursday night at the Loading Dock, students were treated to German Cultural night.

The event brought awareness to the country’s vibrant traditions and broke through longstanding stereotypes.

After a powerful opening with the German National anthem, attendees were given a brief rundown of the country’s statistics.

Second only to Russia, Germany has the largest population in Europe with its 80.2 million inhabitants fitting into a country roughly the size of Montana.

“I had no idea that Germany had such a huge population,” freshman Lucas Mlinar said. “I can’t even imagine a quarter of the U.S. population trying to fit into a place the size of a single state.”

Teaching assistant Michaela Dengg followed this up by going over a few of Germany’s more famous inventions, including glue sticks, pretzels and the modern flamethrower.

“I guess when I thought of Germany, I only thought of their BMW’s,” Mlinar said. “It was really interesting to learn that they have had such an impact on everyday life.”

After most of the facts were out of the way, presenters had some fun with the crowd by inviting students to go on stage and try their best at pronouncing some intimidating German tongue twisters.

“There was no way I was going up there, I wouldn’t have been able to make it past the first word,” freshman Quinn Huisman said. “I can’t even pull off tongue twisters that are in English.”

At the end of the presentation, attendees were treated with an opportunity to try some customary German Cuisine.

“We served traditional potato soup, marble cake and a type of bratwurst that is one of the most commonly served German fast foods,” Dengg said.

After sampling the German cooking, freshman David Syverson had nothing but compliments for the meal.

“I’ve tried a few different kinds of brats in my day, and this was definitely one of the good ones,” Syverson said.

A quick pole of a small group of students determined the night was a success, and it was the direct result of almost four weeks of planning by motivated volunteers.

“It was stressful to be fair; you have to put a whole culture in 20 to 30 minutes,” Dengg said. “But it was a good time, and afterwards a lot of people I didn’t know came to visit me to say they really enjoyed the presentation.”

Dengg’s experience with culture nights served as motivation.

“I attended all of the other Culture Nights, and at some point I decided I wanted to do that for Germany,” she said. “It’s a great way to promote culture on campus.”

Brendan McCabe is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].