written by Bethany Velarde ’22
Agnes Scott’s German Club is being reinvented. In an interview with Club President Lyrik Courtney ‘21, one of Agnes’ smaller clubs generates an inclusive space, where the surprisingly diverse culture of the German-speaking world can be explored.
Originally named Faust Club, in an homage to the German character, the club was an informal space for students to meet regardless of fluency and has changed significantly since its beginning.
In the 1995-96 academic year, Faust Club was the name chosen to represent this casual group. However, the name of the club was changed officially last year to reflect how unknown Faust is among non-German scholars. Courtney explains, “A lot of people don’t know who Faust is or who Goethe himself is… I’m pretty sure people referred to it informally as German Club for a long time.”
Unlike most students who drift across clubs and organizations at the beginning of their academic career, Courtney readily joined the club because they wanted the experience of being “immersed in a German environment around German people” outside of studying abroad, and they wanted an immediate connection to make friends. The club also involves teaching assistants and international students as active participants, often providing the background to create authentic cultural exchanges.
For example, on November 10th, German Club held an Oktoberfest to share traditional music, popular folk dances, and food. For two hours, pretzels, breads, and spreads fueled a congenial atmosphere in the Alston first floor lounge. Austrian teaching assistant Bianca Kepplinger wore a dirndl dress. Bianca spends half her time as a student at Agnes Scott and half as a teaching assistant. She finds that German Club is an opportunity for students “to learn about German culture, Austrian and Suisse culture, without the pressure of grading, and at the same time it also helps to create a team spirit.” Bianca also noted that there is not enough time in the classroom to show everything about a culture, and as non-German studying students can join [the club], “studying a language is not only restricted to acquiring knowledge about vocabulary and grammar, it also implies learning about a different culture.”
Recent German Club events have also included a trip to the Goethe-Institut in Atlanta to preview a photography exhibit, and a joint movie night with the French department. Last week, on November 30th was the Christmas Party, or Weihnachtsfeier, with German treats including homemade gingerbread, or pfefferkuchen.
Courtney also shared an insight about the small nature of the club. “The German department has always been really small and Faust Club has always been especially small,” Courtney explains. It has been difficult to increase club membership. In previous years, with a small base and a confusing name, the club “kind of tapered off.” This year, Courtney wants German Club to be more structured and more inclusive.
Unfortunately, last year, German Club was denied as a formal club through the Inter-Organizational Council (IOC) since language clubs are considered an extension of the language department. Courtney’s hope is that German Club will grow to be recognized as a chartered club, through IOC, gaining access to more funding and greater campus outreach.
For now, German Club meets Mondays at 7 pm in Buttrick 211. Activities vary from German language films (with subtitles) to crafts and game nights. Additionally, the German Studies Department has a German lunch table on Thursdays from 1-2 pm in Evans Dining Hall.
When asked whether one must speak German to be in German club, Courtney replied, “Nein,” which means “no.” All students, German-speaking or otherwise, are welcome, and encouraged, to take part in German club and its activities. The club’s goal is to connect German Club members to German culture, “as it is present here in Atlanta” by giving students opportunities to explore, learn, experience and feel something new.