Food, fellowship and thought-provoking discussion

Leberkaese mit Spaetzle. Photo:
Leberkaese mit Spaetzle. Photo:

There was more than coffee and cakes at the last meeting of the German speaking group Kaffee und Kuchen.

The meeting began earlier than usual with a special German luncheon of Leberkaese mit Spaetzle, which was prepared by chef Reto Gasser.

After a fine meal it is a challenge for a speaker to capture the attention of the audience, but that proved no problem for Dorothea Prenzler.

Her subject was topical. With acts of violence by home grown terrorists occurring around the world the search for a solution is of pressing importance.

Dorothea used her own life story to illustrate the difficulties that particularly young people face when finding themselves caught between cultures.

Born in Germany to parents who had been forced to leave their home in Tanganyika (now part of Tanzania) by the outbreak of World War II, she learnt to speak first in German.

When her family moved after the war to New Guinea, there was pidgin to learn, and later, when she started school in Queensland, all instruction was in English.

For those like her who must cope with different languages and often conflicting cultures there are advantages; they have a wider world view.

But the disadvantages are severe.

They suffer a sense of isolation, alienation from their community, which may manifest itself in depression, self harm and eating disorders.

And there is a tendency to become reliant on authoritarian institutions – they like to be told what to do – which makes radicalisation possible.

Dorothea escaped those disadvantages because of the supportive environment in which she lived, and recent theories suggest that the encouragement of self worth in alienated children is the best solution to radicalisation in adulthood.

After her marriage Dorothea returned to New Guinea with her husband John to continue her family’s missionary work.

Later she assisted John in his ministry in Queensland and then in SA.

After her children left home, she undertook university studies, taking a particular interest in the clash of cultures which she had herself experienced.

The next meeting of Kaffee und Kuchen will be held at the Langmeil Centre, 7 Maria Street, Tanunda, on Monday, November, 27, starting at 1pm.