• The Griffin

40 years later, German Canisians reunite

Patrick Healy, Managing Editor

Last week, The Griffin received an interesting inquiry in our club email. Two former German exchange students were on campus, and they remembered this paper from their feature in it as students in 1982. One was only here for the day — could we meet? I said sure; The Griffin was honored to act as ad hoc host.

Unsure what to show Karin Oberhous Bohlman and Isanthe “Izzy” or “Sandy” Lüth, I offered to take them to the Model United Nations clubroom two floors above, which has cycled through various international-centered clubs throughout its history.

One wall of the clubroom is painted with the European Union flag — that’s from EuroSim club. Even more fitting, painted on the opposite wall is the German flag — from the German club, which hosted Canisius Oktoberfest from 1971 to, as far as I can tell, 2010. Bohlman and Lüth, as reported in that year’s Griffin, were the bartenders for the 1981 Canisius Oktoberfest. I took their picture in front of the flag as we chatted about Oktoberfest and Canisius.

I asked what had changed the most since their time as foreign exchange students. Bohlman pointed to the development on Delevan Avenue. Lüth said her host family’s son attended Mount St. Joseph’s High School, which has now been turned into Lyons Hall. But mostly it was about technology. Setting up a meeting between us, then complete strangers, took mere minutes; calling their families in Germany took more time — and money.

The price to talk to call home in 1982? It could cost $20 for a single call, Bohlman recalled. (“Of course, Izzy [Lüth] talked for an hour. I talked for 3 minutes.”) The best time to call? After 6:00 p.m. (since that would be after midnight in Germany—much cheaper).

We looked at the wall of famous alumni outside the Regis Room, noting the most famous judges, scholars and businessmen. The one who stuck out to the Germans was Fr. James Demske, president of Canisius during their time at the college. Lüth knew Father Demske well, noting that he attended the University of Freiburg and spoke fluent German. She met with Demske repeatedly in her return trips to campus over the years, and she hopes to meet his successor, President Steve Stoute, in her three-week stay in Buffalo this year.

Lüth wrote a letter to the editor in The Griffin in her last week at Canisius. In thanking her host family and her friends and faculty at Canisius College, she said that her year at Canisius “is and will be the best experience I could ever make in my life. . . . I will come back sometime!” A promise kept.



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