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An initiative to promote German culture and language on college campuses coincides with a weeklong visit from German university officials.

Harald Leder, director of Academic Programs Abroad at LSU, speaks to students during the kickoff of "Do Deutsch."
Jim Zietz/University Relations

Call it “Septemberfest!” The third week of last month was a big one for German history, culture and education on the LSU campus on multiple levels. “Do Deutsch” festivities kicked off and were coupled with a weeklong visit by a Fulbright delegation who travelled to Louisiana from Germany to learn more about the best practices of American universities in fundraising, promotion, and also maybe just a little about what it means to “Love Purple” and “Live Gold.”

LSU was chosen by the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., as one of 16 U.S. universities to participate in “Do Deutsch,” an initiative to promote German on their campuses. Festivities included a concert by the German a cappella group “Vocaldente,” game nights and a series of German films.

Harald Leder, director of Academic Programs Abroad, said that the initiative is ongoing and that more festivities are planned throughout the course of the semester and beyond.

“We are still working on a musical competition with a German theme, and will soon announce an essay competition in which students will be asked to write about the usefulness of German for them,” said Leder.

During the festivities, students even had the opportunity to take pictures with German Chancellor Angela Merkel; German literature legend Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; and the leader of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, albeit in two-dimensional, cutout form. German dignitaries of a living, breathing, more three-dimensional nature were also present during the kickoff of “Do Deutsch” week, however, as 10 German university officials traveled to Louisiana for an informational and cultural exchange.

Members of the Fulbright delegation from Germany learn what it means to "Love Purple" during a swamp tour.
Photo Credit: Harald Leder

LSU and the German-American Fulbright Commission took part in a one-week program for 10 administrators from German universities to share information on the functions and responsibilities of career centers, fundraising, alumni networking, and how to differentiate and promote their universities.

Through expert speakers and “job shadowing,” the group learned about the American system of higher education; teaching philosophy and financial structures; the relationship between study programs and job market; university partnerships; community and industry relations; and specifically how LSU functions on various levels with regards to its constituencies such as students, parents, alumni and state legislators.

The Fulbright delegation was also treated to a little South Louisiana hospitality and tradition with visits to Oak Alley Plantation and New Orleans, as well as swamp tours and dinners at various local Cajun and Creole restaurants.

Director of LSU Career Services Mary D. Feduccia, who was one of the hosts of the Fulbright delegation, spoke about the differences between German and American higher education institutions with regards to student career placement.

“Career centers have a long tradition at U.S. universities as having fundraising and alumni networking initiatives,” said Feduccia. “German universities, by contrast, have only recently begun to develop these areas and often look to the U.S. for guidance.”

Members of the German club at LSU play a trivia game during the kickoff week of "Do Deutsch."
Jim Zietz/University Relations

Leder, who was also instrumental in shepherding the Fulbright delegation through the intricacies of American universities, added how proud he was that LSU, in particular, was chosen for this unique cultural exchange, citing the importance to expose Louisiana’s flagship university internationally.

“The German Fulbright Commission selecting LSU for this workshop indicates an international recognition of the quality of the work we do at this university. It also introduced LSU to representatives of 10 prestigious German universities,” said Leder. “The South is usually not an area people in Europe or Asia think about when they look at the United States, and LSU is not well known in general overseas. People from other countries look at Ivy League schools or focus either on the Northeast or the West. This was a chance for us to showcase LSU and Louisiana to important decision makers in Germany.”

Feduccia echoed Leder’s statements and went on to say that the Fulbright delegation was a very eager group who seemed to relish the idea of taking the knowledge shared with them by LSU faculty and staff experts back to Germany to share with their colleagues.

“The participants were highly motivated throughout the very busy week to learn as much as they could about higher education in American universities, particularly in the areas of alumni relations, development and career services,” said Feduccia. “The consensus was that they planned to take back much of what they learned at LSU to begin trying to implement in their universities.”

Feduccia went on to add that plans have been made for continued dialog and collaboration between representatives at LSU and the Fulbright delegation.

Additional Links

For more information on “Do Deutsch,” visit facebook.com/doDeutsch.

For more information on the Fulbright International Educational Exchange Program, visit Fulbright.state.gov.