30th Anniversary of the Vancouver Westside German School

Four VIP's

June 9, 2023 – Vancouver – The Vancouver Westside German School (VWGS) joyfully celebrated its long-awaited 30th Anniversary on June 3rd, 2023, from 5:30 pm to 9 pm at the Austria Club in Richmond. Due to the challenges imposed by the Covid pandemic, despite the original plan to commemorate their anniversary in 2022, the prevailing restrictions at the time made it more convenient to postpone the event for a year.

©Natalya Porter with https://natalyadesigns.wordpress.com/h

In the words of Justin Trudeau, our Prime Minister “This (30th Anniversary) milestone offers a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon the history of the school, to celebrate the important role it has played in the community, and to set goals for the future.

The MC was Elizabeth “Biz” Nijdam, from UBC (right) also a Secretary of the Board and the teacher’s of the VWGS are on the left: (not necessarily standing in this order). Andrea Dahlmann-Resing (DaZ Junior 1/2) Antje Mahintarobi (DaF Junior/Junior 1, Katrina von Salzen (DaZ Junior and DaZ Senior 1/2), Christina Antal (DaF Junior 3/4 and DaF Senior A2), Tanmay Joshi (DaZ Junior 3/4 and DaZ/DaF Senior 3), Carla Voss (DaZ/DaF Senior 4)

To introduce the school and to get the audience warmed up, some older students prepared a quiz. The multiple choice answers were decided on by audience applause. Questions like in which order did the 4 different Principals work at the school? The answer is Isolde Winter was the founder and the first Principal, then came Christina Spreter von Kreudenstein, then Lidija Bakovic, and finally, the current Principal Ute Steves.

DaF in the usual sense of the term are all language learners who learn German outside of a German speaking country (so in that regard, all of our students are DaF). DaZ are non-native speakers living in a German speaking country and learning the language there.

For our school, the definitions of DaF/DaZ are very different: DaF: Students who do not actively use the language at home on a regular/daily basis, DaZ: Students who do – most of them growing up in a German speaking household with one or both parents speaking German at home.

Shown in the picture below is Deputy Consul General of Germany Hans Stocker addressing the crowd.

The receiving line for the DSD II Graduates was formed by Steven Seewald, Chair of the Board of Directors, Ute Steves Principal of the VWGS, Andreas Meckes, the German language advisor for Western Canada, ZfA, Hans Stocker, Deputy Consul of the German Consulate, as well as two “flower” girls Robin and Mackenzie who were handing out the flowers to each graduate.

The Graduating Class can be seen below collecting their certificates and receiving flowers. There were eight graduates for DSD II this year of which seven attended and five participated in the essay contest.

The Deutsches Sprachdiplom der Kultusministerkonferenz is an official German language certificate of the German education authorities and the Foreign Office certifying levels of knowledge of the German language in schools worldwide. Successful sudents passing the DSD 2 exam are ‘certified competent at the B2 or C1 level, and some can apply to universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The DSD is an examination in German as a foreign language administered at schools located abroad, in other words intended for students attending German schools abroad, German-speaking departments at state-run schools abroad, and DSD schools. The DSD I diploma certifies competence at the B1/A2 level, and the DSD II diploma certifies competence at the C1/B2 level. The examination must be overseen at the place of examination by a foreign service teacher on school leave.

Second from the left in the back row: Andreas Meckes has been the German Special Language Advisor at Alberta Education since August 2015. He oversees German language proficiency exams (Deutsches Sprachdiplom) and supports German language programs in Western Canada. His position is co-sponsored by the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (Zentralstelle für das Auslandsschulwesen, ZfA) in Bonn, Germany.

Two students shared an article they had written for the DSD II Writing Contest,

Steven Seewald, and his company ALARA Environmental Health and Safety Ltd. presented a $1500 cheque to the five winners of the DSD II Writing Contest.

The youngest students organized some songs that they performed in front of the group. Very sweet! Songs included hits like “Zum Geburtstag Viel Glück” and “Hoch soll sie leben – drei mal hoch!”

The Alpen Plattlers finally began their much-awaited performance. They are: Steven, Karl, David, Gundi, Pilar, Mercedes and Jim the accordion player. Learn more here on this cool Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/alpenplattlers/

Kecia and I have worked together on a number of projects, such as the Deutsche Kindergruppe in the St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church founded in 2003, the Deutsche Kinderschule Vancouver Society dedicated to starting a German Preschool in Vancouver, the German Tent in the Eurofest BC Society, especially the featured Germany tent in 2014, Lantern Festivals, even one organized in the Vancouver Aquarium and one at the Vancouver Alpen Club, we celebrated Fasching, Easter and organized picnics and a different children’s playgroup at the Alpen Club.

Even though Kecia is not directly involved in the Vancouver Westside German School, she is training up the next generation of youth to learn German, while also teaching Sunday School as Superintendent in the St. Mark’s Church. Some of these students have then moved on to attend German Schools, like the VWGS. Kecia is also a member of the German Canadian Business Association and we often attend events together. My favourite though of all our work together was being MC and song leader at the Nikolaus Festivals that Kecia organized at the Alpen Club over the years.

Steven Seewald has ensured his children all follow in his dancing footsteps and now has his oldest daughter dancing with the family. Very cool! She is in the middle of the three dancing couples.

Jim, the accordion player, was able to share some of the tricks of the trade with me and I am busy practising at home. My dream is to learn the “Chicken Dance” good enough to play at a German event…

 The VIP’s to this event are: Hans Stocker (Deputy Consul German Consulate), Andreas Meckes (German language advisor for Western Canada, ZfA),   Silvana Renggli (Deputy Consul at Consulate of Switzerland),  Agnes Drissler – one of founders of school, Kecia Boecking (President of the EuroFest BC), Andreas Koechl (President of the Austria Vancouver Club), Elke Porter (Westcoast German News), Regrets: Isolde Winter – founder of school and President of Canadian Association of German Language schools, Beatrice Schreiber (President of the German Canadian Business Association), Justin Hoffmann (President of the Vancouver Alpen Club).

Some related websites are: https://www.germancanadianbusiness.com or https:// or https://www.vacbc.ca/

The EuroFest BC Society is a local non-profit society and they are currently raising funds to cover the cost of this year’s European Festival Event, which will be held on Saturday July 23rd and Sunday July 24th at the Country Festival located at 23448 Jim Robson Way in Maple Ridge. Since 1996 they have organized successful festival events designed to promote various aspects of European culture including dance, music, art, theater and food. Learn more here: https://www.europeanfestival.ca/

The Austria Club on Westminster Highway is the last German Club in greater Vancouver area, while the Alpen Club is under construction. It is a great place to have a Schnitzel, dance a Schuhplattler, drink a German beer or practice your German language/singing. https://austriavancouverclub.ca/

The main goal of everyone in this picture is to keep the German Language, culture and heritage alive and well. There are also many others working behind the scenes. There has even been talk of a “Dachorganisation” or umbrella organization, which will connect all German groups and provide things like a common calendar that everyone can share their events and activities to work together in a more cohesive fashion. Stay tuned for more information about this coming this fall of 2023.

©Natalya Porter with https://natalyadesigns.wordpress.com/home/

Raffle Prize winners: Kecia Boecking won the 50/50 Raffle, Jim Morrison won the Swiss Army knife donated by the Swiss Consulate and Sandra Rohler won the Dona Lucia Esthetics Salon voucher donated by owner Aileen Mischker. Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to all those who supported the Vancouver Westside German School with donating prizes, purchasing raffle tickets and donating much needed funds.

Also, our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote a few words of congratulations and Steven is showing this off here. You can read the entire proclamation on the website. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/62f6b65651b9095bebfa097d/t/6418cdddea2f5e2c995aa89c/1679347165286/Justin+Trudeau+-+Vancouver+West+Side+German+School.pdf

Just in case you are wondering where I purchased my dress that I wear to these special occasions, it is a small company out in Langley: “Dirndls in the Valley” with Elisabeth Williams 604 808-1536 or dirndlsinthevalley@live.com.

Can anyone become a member of the Austria Club, or do you have to be Austrian? Anyone can join.  Only Austrian can hold certain board positions
Is there a link to the German summer camp? Registrations by Jun 16:https://app.tuiopay.com/registration/94b71e2

Where do the Alpen Plattlers practice and can anyone join? Anyone can Join, We practice in the Polish Hall – http://polishsocietyvancouver.ca/

Alpen Plattlers Dancing

©Natalya Porter with https://natalyadesigns.wordpress.com/hom

There are approximately 132 students in the Vancouver Westside German School and registration for Fall 2023 has already begun. Please use:
https://app.tuiopay.com/registration/745ca8d for more details. Some events happening in the fall are the AGM in September, Laternenfest/St Martin a visit from Nikolaus etc. But their goal is also to continue to bring the German speaking community together. Support them, if you can, as Covid has been challenging to all non-profits, schools and charities.

German language schools are important for several reasons:

  1. Preserving and promoting the German language: German language schools play a crucial role in preserving and promoting the German language and culture, especially in countries where German is not the primary language. They provide opportunities for individuals of German descent or those interested in the language to learn and maintain their language skills.
  2. Cultural heritage: German language schools serve as institutions that preserve and transmit the cultural heritage of the German-speaking community. They offer a platform for teaching not only the language but also the customs, traditions, literature, and history associated with German-speaking countries.
  3. Education and career opportunities: Learning the German language can open up various educational and career opportunities. Germany has a strong economy and is known for its technological advancements, making it an attractive destination for higher education and job prospects. Proficiency in German can give individuals an advantage in pursuing academic programs, internships, and employment opportunities in German-speaking countries or with German companies worldwide.
  4. Enhanced intercultural understanding: Language learning is a gateway to understanding different cultures and fostering intercultural communication. German language schools provide a space for students to engage with German-speaking communities, develop cross-cultural understanding, and build connections with people from diverse backgrounds.
  5. Personal and cognitive benefits: Learning a second language, such as German, has numerous personal and cognitive benefits. It enhances cognitive skills, such as memory, problem-solving, and creativity. Additionally, being multilingual can broaden one’s perspectives, improve communication skills, and increase cultural sensitivity.
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