German American Day draws 25 schools

The 13th annual event hosted by Dr. Mohamed Esa and McDaniel College is still going strong

By Laura Hutton, News Co-Editor
On Tuesday, October 16, McDaniel College hosted its 13th annual German American Day (GAD). Established in 1995 by Dr. Mohamed Esa, GAD has played an important role in expanding German culture.
After becoming a full time professor at McDaniel College in 1994, Esa wanted to improve the small German program at McDaniel and the weak programs in surrounding high schools. Strengthening the German programs at the high school level directly affects the interest in the language at the college level.
“The idea was to build bridges between college and high school,” explained Esa, “It does not matter what language, but there should be no disconnect between high school and college.”
With 25 schools in attendance, including two middle schools and one German high school, the campus was full of hundreds of high school students eager to learn. “German class is one of my favorite classes,” said sophomore Kerrie Uthoff from Mt. Hebron High School, “So, I figured German American Day would be fun.”
That is Esa’s goal, to create an atmosphere that is fun for the students while they expand their German knowledge. “It is more than a day off because they really want to be there,” added Esa.
Students participating in GAD were able to pick a workshop to attend. The objective was to be informative and to keep the students’ attention through the incorporation of interesting topics. The topics ranged from making gingerbread and marzipan, to learning German folk dances, and even listening to the story of Holocaust survivor, Mr. Rubin Sztajer.
After the workshops that lasted 60-90 minutes, students were able to enjoy a traditional German meal before watching German music videos and watching folk dances in Alumni Hall.
“[It is] wonderful to see so many students from different counties take time to learn about different cultures,” added Superintendent of Carroll County Public Schools and Western Maryland College alumus, Dr. Charles I. Ecker.
GAD is a successful tradition that Esa wishes to continue for many years. He hopes to keep the attendance high and wants everyone to learn about German culture. “I believe in it. We are unique and there is nothing like it in the world,” said Esa. “I am very proud of our German American Day. It belongs to everyone.”