On Nov. 9 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the hall of flags, the German Club hosted 500 students from all over the valley to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Students from local junior high and high schools were invited to participate by recreating their own section of the wall on cardboard. The sections were then connected with the entries of other students to create a foot-high replica of the Berlin Wall, spanning the length of the hall.
Connie Manwaring spoke to students on what it was like living in East Germany while the wall was still up. Break-out sessions hosted by UVU students on topics such as the cultural effects of the Wall, propaganda of the Wall and government and the Communist party.
“The Berlin Wall Project was an opportunity for students to commemorate an event that changed the course of the world,” said event organizer and Assistant Professor of German Jeff Packer. “Most students (participating) were born after the wall fell, so we organized this activity to help teach them so they could learn about the important events that led up to the fall, as well as what happened immediately thereafter.”
The Berlin Wall was erected in 1961 by the German Democratic Republic to separate East and West Berlin. The wall completely enclosed West Berlin and included armed guard towers. The fall of the infamous structure marked the end of the Cold War. A year and a half before it fell, Ronald Reagan gave a speech where he spoke the most memorable words of his presidency: “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Twenty years later, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and dignitaries from all over the world marked the anniversary with speeches, fireworks and a mile-long toppling of eight-foot-tall Styrofoam dominos which symbolized the falling of the Berlin Wall. Thousands of Germans packed the streets of Berlin to witness the historic event.
While UVU didn’t have giant dominos or fireworks, students were able to spin a wheel to win prizes like T-shirts, water bottles, thermal sacks, pens, highlighters, pins, fact books and magazines. There was also a table set up to promote the study abroad program, which will be sending students to Berlin in May.
The German Club has about 80 members consisting mostly of students taking German classes and returned LDS missionaries who served in Germany. Cindy Blackburn, president of the German Club, said, “We hope everyone will come to our activities and want to learn more.” In the next few weeks the German Club will feature movie nights with English subtitles.
To learn more about the events or the German Club, join their facebook page by searching UVU German Club or by emailing club President Cindy Blackburn at firstname.lastname@example.org.