We are fortunate to live in Upstate New York with a strong immigrant community. In former times, there were clusters of Germans, Italians, Irish, and Polish to name a few in our area. Today as world politics change, there are numerous immigrants from some Asian countries and Africa. As a world language educator of German, I am grateful for a wonderful group called the German-American Society of Central New York whose members lend support to our high school students of German. For the past thirteen years, the Society has awarded numerous scholarships at their annual Scholarship evening in which the students and their teachers are honored with a tasty German dinner free of charge. The evening also features German music played by talented members including Klaus Raith on the zither, the Syracuse Liederverein Chorus as well as the Enzian Bavarian dancers. Many of the members dress in native dress such as the Dirndl and Lederhosen. The audience is also invited to dance and sing along.
There are door prizes for the students and their families. The audience listens to speeches in German and in English by all the student winners. This year there will be 8 recipients. Our students will celebrate the German language and its importance to their futures. This year I have two seniors who will be honored with a scholarship. One of them has plans to become a German teacher. I am especially pleased that some of my students plan to study in Germany where they will immerse themselves in the language and culture.
My blog readers know how highly I value connecting my students to their counterparts in Germany both via pen pal letters and the video conferences. I realize that for many, it is the closest they will ever come to traveling to Germany. Technology today has made it possible for our students to collaborate and work on projects with peers in another country. I am in awe that they have these opportunities. A lucky few will realize their dreams of traveling to and studying in Germany. They will be our future world leaders who value tolerance and understanding of others because they have learned more about themselves in the process.
My own journey began in a rural Western Massachusetts town with many immigrants, among them my father’s Polish family members. From him I learned my strong work ethic which I have attempted to instill in my students along with the love of the German language which will hopefully aid in their journey of self-discovery and of world understanding. So, today, I sing praises to these Society members who value the language, culture and our students. Kudos to the German-American Society of Central New York! You have touched all of our lives! We are forever grateful for you and your example.