DSFoundationUSA - OMA_ABT_2018
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The Danube Swabian Foundation of the U.S.A., Inc.
Die Donauschwaebische Stiftung der USA, Inc
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5th year's (2018) writing an essay was:
What do you enjoy most about being Donauschwaben
2014 contest results
2015 contest results
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and the winners were:
These are their essays:
Maria Leonhardt
Katrina Giannoni
Evan Sweeny & David O'Reilly

Maria Leonhardt                                                                           Cincinnati Donauschwaben

   What do I enjoy most about being Donauschwaben?  To answer that question completely would take a lifetime!  
However, when I think about my heritage and everything that comes with it, one experience sums up hat I enjoy
most...sausage making!  This is probably a very typical German thing to say, but for me and my family there is a
little more background and meaning that makes it so special to my heart.
   One of the reasons sausage making is so special to me is because, like most Schwob families, it is a  tradition
that has been done by many of our ancestors for many generations. This is no different for my family. My Mom tells
me stories of how the whole family - all of the aunts, uncles, and cousins - would get together to make sausage
when she was growing up.  It was an all day affair, and something the family did for many years.  Everyone would
go over to my Great-Oma’s house, and everything was ready to go...the meat to be mixed with  spices in large tubs,
the casings soaking in brine, and, of course, the cast iron sausage press.  There were  always Krispy Kreme
doughnuts to start the day...a staple in our family! Everybody in the family arrived early in the morning to start
making the sausage while eating doughnuts and, for the adults, drinking beer. Everyone  would be working at their
stations, catching up with one another, laughing, and making jokes. After all the  sausage was made, the children
could go in the backyard to play games, while the men prepared the  smokehouse for half of the sausage.  Great-
Oma would begin to fry the leftover sausage, and the women of the  family would open jars of homemade canned
peppers, and bring out loaves of bread for lunch.  Tables and  chairs were set up so that the whole family could sit
together in the breezeway. When enough sausage was  cooked, everyone sat down to say grace together, and we
finally got to dig in!   The sausage smelled and tasted  amazing, but there’s always something about the food your
Oma makes that makes it taste ten times better;  probably because she puts so much love in it!  At these family get-
togethers to make sausage, there would  always be laughter, love, and good times!  I think that is why I will always
remember it and hold it close to my  heart!  Unfortunately, my Great-Oma died April 12th, 2011 at 95 years old.
When she died, it affected the entire family.  After that, there were not as many family gatherings, and sausage
making, sadly, came to an end.
   Fortunately, when our family joined a new club, Donauschwaben in Cincinnati, we discovered that  they did
sausage making, and I fell in love with it all over again! I discovered that I had a new group to call  family!  I knew
it was home when I discovered the box of doughnuts sitting there on the day of my first sausage  making with
everyone!  I discovered that my family was not the only crazy Schwob family out there! I also  found out, through
the Donauschwaben club, that there are many Oma’s that come with open arms to love and  give your heart to. This
is what I enjoy most about being Donauschwaben!  I absolutely love our  Donauschwaben club, and I really do
think of everyone there as family! Everyone means so much to me, and  they will forever and always have a special
place in my heart.  They are a part of me...just as my  Donauschwaben heritage is a part of me!
                  Fellow Donauschwaben Family
Katrina Giannoni                                                                              Chicago Donauschwaben

My favorite part about being Donauschwaben is being immersed in a culture where we can develop long
friendships of people of a common thread. We may not be the first generation, which just came to
America, however, we have been mentored so well by our parents, Grandparents, and Great
Grandparents that we live the Donauschwaben way. The Donauschwaben lifestyle has been so
influential in my life. The Donau lifestyle goes as follows:
Kinder, Kirche, Kueche
We begin as young children and now as Jugend, we get to mentor the next group of Kinder. We help to
keep them engaged, singing folk songs that our parents and grandparents taught us. Our parents took us to
German school to learn the language and keep it alive for future generations. Dancing at each of our club
events and even performing with other Donauschwaben clubs is always fun and exciting. It’s more than a
party we’re teaching our little Kinder members who we want the Donauschwaben community to be years
from now and teach them the Donauschwaben values that are important to us. Kirchweih, Schlachtfest,  
Tag Der Donauschwaben and Landestreffen all remind us of how important it is to be Donauschwaben.  
It’s not only celebrating your heritage but establishing a lifelong bond that will never be forgotten.
Our faith plays a substantial role in all we do. Events we host throughout the Donauschwaben community
such as Tag der Donauschwaben, Memorial Day Picnic and mass, Landestreffen all remind us that
although Schwobs do a lot of celebrating we always make time as a community for prayer and
reflection. Through our faith, we continue to stay mindful of where and how our history began. We are
thankful for all we are today and how far we’ve come.
In the kitchen (Kueche), our community thrives. A Schwob event isn’t a Schwob event without
food! We work together in the kitchen as a family to make wonderful meals that nourish our member and
maintain our Donauschwaben traditions. They put smiles on all of the faces of the Oma’s and Opa’s of
our clubs.
Another favorite part about being Donauschwaben is the ability to meet new people and connect on a
personal basis. I've had the pleasure of meeting many new people through my Donauschwaben heritage
and it has been nothing but pleasant. It has taught me so many valuable life lessons. I’ve learned how to
build a Schwob network that will carry me throughout a lifetime. Being immersed in the Donauschwaben
culture has taught me that no matter who you may run into you can always find something in common.
Being Donauschwaben is more than just wearing a dirndl and leiwl, it’s about living the
Donauschwaben lifestyle that our ancestors paved the way for us. We celebrate our heritage, but we
always know how and when to make time to be thankful and appreciate being Donauschwaben.
Kinder, Kirche, and Kuche are the building blocks of a Schwob.
Appreciate every day you have and live it to the fullest… that’s what being a Schwob is all about.

Evan Sweeney                                                                        Cincinnati Donauschwaben

The thing that I enjoy most about being Donauschwaben is the community. For the longest time, I really
didn't know if it was the dancing that I enjoyed the most or the people. After some careful consideration
I've been able to narrow it down and I came to the realization that community is at the core of all that the
Donauschwaben stands for. All of the dances are carefully crafted with the intent of group participation
and they wouldn't be the same without this. I can't count the number of times that people have asked me
to do a dance when I bring up that I'm a member of a Jugendgruppe and I couldn't because I was alone.
I think this question is impactful for me because I'm an “adopted” Donauschwaben. I never grew up with
an opa or an oma, and before I joined I rarely thought about my own culture - especially my German
heritage. I am so thankful to all the kind ladies who have become my omas, to all the men who I look up
to as my opas, and to all those who have become my brothers and sisters. I am truly blessed to be a part
of this family, and how welcoming you all are. I look forward each year to the time we come together as
one family, though separated by state or country, united by one Donauschwaben heart. While I have been
in other families before like marching band, none are quite like our clubs.
I love dancing, but nothing kills the fun more than when you are the only one doing it. That is why I took a
friend from my dance group to my Junior prom last year and it was the most fun I had ever had at a high
school dance. In fact, it was all of you that helped me overcome a fear, the fear of dancing in front of
people. I can honestly say that being a member of the Donauschwaben has opened me up as a person and
you all have made growing all the more enjoyable. Thank you all so much.
2016 contest results
2017 contest results
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                                                        The Stories that Surround Us
    David O’Reilly                                                Kitchener Schwaben Club

Everybody loves a good story. The best weavers of words can create images and worlds effortlessly and
draw their listener away from the mundane for a time. As a child, I learned to love the mythology, history
and stories my parents would tell of their lives and of those who came before them: rich tales of town
festivals, tragedies that befell victims of war, and hopes of finding a future in a new land. As I’ve grown
older, I’ve studied the lessons within each story and begun to learn how to live as a man my Oma and
Opa would be proud to have come to this country for. Our Donauschwaben heritage is what connects our
families to a rich background of lessons, celebrations and traditions which continue to inform and
develop who we are.  
Developing a deep connection to one’s heritage is not as easy as simply listening to stories, however.  
Stories inform the listener of a greater lesson. One such tale is of how the Red Cross enabled two young
lovers, having lost their first born children in a post-war hellscape, to pursue their dreams across the
sea. I am alive today because two people had the courage to leave their old country behind and bring
their ways to a new land. It is thanks to them, and people like them, that we are able to celebrate and
re-enact their customs.  
Celebrations are a way of living a story. Kirchweihfest, the celebration of the Church held in September,
has it all: deep cultural associations, good food, and gemütlichkeit. The pinning of rosemary, signifying
incense used in religious ceremonies, is indicative of what our ancestors valued. Food prepared in the
same manner as it was in the Old Country is another facet of keeping our culture alive. Our festivals
remind us that we are united as a community we must keep alive.  
Performances of traditional dances, songs and literature show a story. Schwedentanz, a dance performed
by the Kitchener Schwaben Dancers, demonstrates the bridges over the Danube River and the flow of
water beneath it. The importance of the Danube is told in the story of the Donauschwabens’ journey to
find new lands. Pillars of our heritage, even those such as geography, are scattered throughout our
performances. Showing these dances to members of our Club and of the public breathes new life into
our culture.
The same stories ring true for many of us, but do not fully define us. Our ancestors wouldn’t want it to.
I’ve learned to live the culture we love while developing my own life around it. I’ve heard, lived, and
performed stories based on my culture. I’ve realized my ancestors’ dream of coming to a new country
while retaining their traditions and stories. What I enjoy most about my culture is the never-ending
process of learning what it means to be Donauschwaben.  
2019 contest results
2020 contest results